The 10 Best Address Books
This wiki has been updated 15 times since it was first published in October of 2016. Not everyone wants to turn on a computer or type using their thumbs each time they need to find someone's information. If you're one of those people who prefers to keep a paper record of all your contacts, check out the address books on this list. We've included small, portable options along with larger, desk-sized ones. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best address book on Amazon.
A Brief History of Addresses
Scientific taxonomy took off during this time, and it wasn't long before scholars turned their gazes towards numbering buildings.
Addresses are one of those things we take for granted. However, for most of human history, directions were given in relation to landmarks, so if you wanted to tell people how to get to your house, you had to tell them to turn right at the big rock — no, not that one, the other one.
That all changed in the 18th century C.E. The Enlightenment was in full swing, and it brought with it a desire to classify almost everything under the sun. Scientific taxonomy took off during this time, and it wasn't long before scholars turned their gazes towards numbering buildings.
There were other reasons driving the need to number buildings: namely, the desire to conscript citizens into the army, and also the need to tax those same citizens to pay for the wars they were being forced to fight. This was easier to do back when people lived in small, spread-out villages, but as the Industrial Revolution drove people to live in densely-packed cities, it became harder to keep track of who lived where.
The Prussian empire was especially big on house numbering. The practice was extremely unpopular, as the numbering often portended danger — such as a draft. Citizens would try to remove the numbers as soon as they were posted, and riots even occasionally broke out in an attempt to stop them from going up.
There were other sinister reasons to label houses. In Prague, Jewish homes were the only ones marked, which allowed the residents to be tracked and contained — a precursor to the number tattoos that the Nazis would later use.
The United States would make much more civilized contributions to the cause, as the concept of putting odd numbers on one side of the street and even on the other originated in Philadelphia in the late 1800s. The Philadelphians didn't quite master it, however, as they started at one end of the street, counted all the way up, and then continued the count on the way down the other side, so you had wildly mismatched numbers facing each other.
Numbering buildings is now integral to everything from mail delivery to taking the census, yet it's not practiced worldwide. Japan is the most notable holdout, which can cause massive confusion to tourists. Chances are, though, that whatever city you're in will have some sort of numbering system.
Which is good for us, because we're really trying to start our own army.
Why You Still Need an Address Book
In this day and age, having a old-fashioned paper address book may seem outdated. After all, don't you have that information stored on your cell phone and or online?
While that's certainly true, there are still reasons to keep an address book handy.
Having a physical book that you always keep in the same place can be vital in case of emergency as well.
The biggest reason is because — as we've all been made painfully aware from time to time — technology can fail. Your phone can break, your email can get hacked, and your computer can go on the fritz. We're not claiming that paper address books are immune to disasters, as they can just as easily be lost or stolen, but it helps to have a backup of all your important contacts. After all, how many phone numbers do you know by heart?
Having a physical book that you always keep in the same place can be vital in case of emergency as well. Finding your cell phone can be difficult if you're frazzled, and your computer will be useless if the power goes out. Having that paper book — and, of course, a landline — could be incredibly helpful in a pinch.
Beyond that, paper address books just have more character than their electronic counterparts. Being able to fill it up and update it gives you a concrete record of all the changes you and your friends have made over the years, and it's a great way to track marriages and births, or even to commemorate those who have passed.
While having a physical book is far from a necessity, it is a good idea. Plus, they're relatively cheap, so it's not like you'd be breaking the bank in order to safeguard your information.
Oh, and it's incredibly satisfying to cross out people's names when they make you mad. That's worth the price of admission right there.
Tips for Using Your Address Book
Using an address book seems incredibly simple. All you have to do is write people's names and contact information down, right? How hard can that be?
If you've ever actually used one, though, then you already know how easy it is to turn yours into a jumbled mess. However, with a little planning, you can make sure that yours remains a pristine and useful tool.
You don't have to just store contact information in your book, either.
One big trick is to organize everyone by first name instead of last. That's especially useful for the women in your life, as their last names can change as they get married or divorced, but it works just as well for the men. It will be much easier to find their information later if you forget their last name.
Write names down with a pencil rather than pen as well. People move and change phone numbers all the time, and scribbling out old information will quickly cause your book to become messy and unreadable.
If you insist on using a pen, though, use multiple colors. This lets you color-code pertinent information, so you can quickly find the number for your child's pediatrician, and your aunt's number will stand out on a page filled with old co-workers and forgotten neighbors.
You don't have to just store contact information in your book, either. You can also keep track of favorite websites, as well as user names and passwords. That way, you'll never be locked out of your other address book — but if you are, you'll have your kid's cellphone number written down, so you can call them and ask how to get back into your email.
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