So, as kind of a palate-cleanser after the orgy of fiction I've been reading lately, I picked up a copy* of Carrie McLaren and Jason Torchinsky's Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture, and I am happy to report that so far it is excellent, witty and smart and surprisingly non-depressing (apart from the parts about how advertising affects the judicial process).
I haven't finished the book yet, but my favorite part thus far came from the first section, which offers a quick history of modern advertising. The authors found a glorious ad from the 1890s for Royal Seal brand oats featuring the Royal Oats can standing in the middle of what looks like the cockroach version of World War III. Clearly, the ad is meant to show that the can of cereal can survive anything... but I just love the idea of a modern ad agency surrounding any kind of breakfast food with a roach army.
*From the library, because I hate buying books about consumption.