Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Jen Travels Time Again - Microhistories!

From Jen: I love the idea of reading Microhistories. A small scale investigation that can connect you to something with a larger than life feel. Everyone can find something that interests them. And even if a subject doesn’t interest you right off the bat, you might be surprised. You can explore any topic, from Mark Kurlansky’s Cod to Mary Roach’s Stiff. Any- and everything really!

There’s a new book to add to this wonderful category: The Chile Pepper in China: A Cultural Biography by Brian R Dott. Dott explores how the non-native chile went from obscurity to ubiquity in China, influencing not just cuisine but also medicine, language, and cultural identity. Eugene Anderson, author of The Food of China, says, “This is an absolutely wonderful book. It combines scholarship and good food writing-the enormous amount of effort in compiling the databases is duly and modestly cloaked in good prose.”

Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake is another new release getting rave reviews. “True to his name, Merlin takes us on a magical journey deep into the roots of Nature - the mycelial universe that exists under every footstep we take in life. Merlin is an expert storyteller, weaving the tale of our co-evolution with fungi into a scientific adventure. Entangled Life is a must-read for citizen scientists hoping to make a positive difference on this sacred planet we share.” - from Paul Stamets, author of Mycellium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World.

If you’re looking for something a bit more mysterious: The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery delves into the emotional and physical world of the octopus a surprisingly complex, intelligent, and spirited creature and the remarkable connections it makes with humans. This might just make you see these magnificent sea creatures in a whole new light.

A few years ago Marion Rankine wrote Brolliology: A History of the Umbrella in Life and Literature. Rainy days always make me want to stay inside and curled up with a good book. I can’t think of a more appropriate rainy day microhistory.

Speaking of staying indoors these days. Bill Bryson’s At Home: A Short History of Private Life takes readers on a tour of his house, a rural English parsonage, showing how each room has figured in changes in private life. Bill Bryson is a delight, so why not let him take you on an exploration of his home?

Not only will reading microhistory enrich and satisfy any curiosities about a subject but you’ll get to regale
your friends and family with the fascinating new facts you learned! You’re sure to be a hit at trivia night!

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