November Book Shelf: Old Favorite

In the midst of turmoil, it’s nice to remember that some things endure. No matter the ups and (way) downs of the stock market or the rise and fall of political fortunes, “The Old Farmer’s Almanac” — just as it has for 217 years — is forecasting the weather, offering recipes and providing snippets of humor and fact suitable for bathroom reading. It’s even still punched with a hole for hanging. (Readers said “No” to a 1998 survey asking if the hole should be eliminated.) It’s not exactly the same, of course. The headline on the cover this year is “Cold, Snow, Hurricanes Blow — Global Warming?” Also, mixed in with the star charts and tide corrections, are ads for products the earliest readers could never have imagined, like step-in tubs, cellphones and cures for erectile dysfunction. When Robert Thomas founded the almanac in 1792, he had a secret formula for forecasting the weather (today it sits in a black tin box in the almanac’s Dublin offices). It turned out to be around 80 percent correct. Thanks to that and the charm of the rest of the content, the almanac was selling a million copies a year when Thomas died in 1846. He got very rich on his creation, and we got a venerable publication with a record for accuracy that might envy. For more information about this year’s edition and the almanac calendar, visit
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