Living: Habit Forming

Forming A silly new survey of American compulsions

Some people collect Victorian hatpins. Others accumulate matchbooks. Mel Poretz, 60, is a compulsive collector of useless information. He knows exactly how many steps there are in his Merrick, N.Y., split-level home (21). As a child he knew how many stars surrounded the mountain peak in the Paramount Pictures logo (26 originally, now just 22). And like many people who are happy in their jobs, he has found a way to put his obsession to work.

Poretz and fellow marketing executive Barry Sinrod have published The First Really Important Survey of American Habits (Price Stern Sloan, $4.95), a really important book...

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