A few months ago I got myself a copy of The Tall Book: A Celebration of Life from on High.
Books about height are rare.
I’ve been tall my entire life and finally someone (i.e. Arianne Cohen, 6’3″) has written a book about being tall.
In the words of Arianne:
When there’s no book about your topic, it’s like your whole issue doesn’t exist. My concerns were deflated, automatically relegated to a topic of no particular importance, which made me feel dumb. I was left to scrounge for information from my surroundings.
After twenty years of dealing with the elephant in the room, being tall, Arianne decided to write a book.
The Tall Book is part investigation (based on extensive research) and part personal story. It follows Arianne as she circles the globe, meeting the tallest people in the world, questioning them on how to raise a well-adjusted tall kid, and, yes, becoming one half of America’s tallest couple. The book is both informative and entertaining with heaps of illuminating tidbits of information.
One tidbit I found really interesting was the reason why so many people ask a tall person if they play basketball:
Starting in around 1975 all major league basketball games were starting to be televised at an increasing rate. By this time most people with a TV at home started to see very tall people being celebrated in front of sold-out basketball arenas. In addition, by 1995 basketball players such as Shaquille O’Neal (7’1″ or 2.16 m) and Shawn Bradley (7’6″ or 2.29 m) were celebrated all over the media and the idea of being very tall was linked to being an amazing athlete.
Thus, the question “do you play basketball” suggests a cultural comfort with tall people. Being associated with playing basketball because of your height is better than being associated with being part of the circus!
Structure of The Tall Book
The book is split into four parts:
- Tall Context
- The Tall Life
- Tall Science
- Tall Quandaries, Explained
Each part is made up of multiple chapters going into more specific details about the part.
The breakdown of each part is as follows:
Part 1: Tall Context
1.1 A Primer on the Tall Life: Smarter, Richer, Longer and Better.
1.2 Tall People Around the World.
1.3 The Birth of Tall People: A History.
Part 2: The Tall Life
2.1 The Secret Life of the World’s Tallest: A Look in the Stretch Mirror.
2.2 A Brief Interruption for a Tall People Convention.
2.3 Growing Up Tall: You and Your Growth Chart.
2.4 Sports: Long Limbs, Big Paychecks.
2.5 On the Job. Counting Greenbacks.
2.6 A Word on the Costs of Height.
Part 3: Tall Science
3.1 Genes, Hormones, and Luck: Why You are Tall.
3.2 Tall Health: Why Does Everyone Think We’re Going to Die?
3.3 Tall Treatments: Sixty Years of Height Reducing Pills
Part 4: Tall Quandaries, Explained
4.1 In a Box of One: Tall Psychology.
4.2 Into the Bedroom: Where Tall Folk Produce More Tall Folk.
4.3 The Tall Fetish.
4.4 Retail Therapy: Buying Off the Rack and Other Pipe Dreams.
4.5 The Fitting Manifesto.
What To Expect From The Tall Book
Lots and lots of statistics.
Well, mainly in the first third of the book.
This is not necessarily bad; all the facts and claims made throughout the book are thoroughly researched.
At the end of the book there is also a multi-page list of all the references used to help write the book.
For me personally though, this gave the book a general “feel” of being a book of facts about being tall.
Despite all the facts, the book also presented a variety of stories from different people that had many of the same experiences I’ve had.
These personal experiences and those from Adrianne really make the book.
There is a section in the book detailing how people behave around and interact with those taller than themselves, particularly in the workplace.
It forced me to look back on my life and how much my height may have played a part in relationships and my career, and I didn’t realize it.
I should also point out that the book is written for a primarily female audience.
There are lots of “when I was a girl, I …“- type stories.
There’s nothing wrong with that, in fact, it was interesting reading about the struggles a tall woman must face, however as a man I found it hard to relate to some sections.
One thing the book fails to talk about in any great detail is solutions to every day tall problems.
It’s fantastic that Arianne points out and addresses a large majority of problems tall people face but it would be even more helpful if she were able to offer some practical solutions.
Overall I found this book very interesting and witty.
It’s an absolute must-read for the tall and not-so-tall–or anyone searching for the secrets of living the high life.
This book is the perfect gift for your shorter friends or family members to help them better understand you and the struggles you go through on a daily basis.
Alternatively, it’s also a great gift for yourself, especially if you are a tall women and struggle with your height.
Adrianne’s writing style will leave you nodding your head and laughing as you read along and realise that the daily issues you face being tall are far from unique.
There are so many wonderful positives about being tall in the book, that if you are feeling down it will cheer you up.
Stand tall, be proud of your height and strive for greatness.
- Image credit for The Tall Book cover: here