Since last week’s nonfiction post garnered such a response (pre-meds, y u no like fiction??), I decided to post two more of my favorite nonfiction books.
#6: Napoleon’s Button’s by Penny Le Couteur & Jay Burreson and Origin of Everyday Things by Johnny Acton, Tania Adams, & Matt Packer
Because I am an enormous dweeb, I get a huge kick out of knowing where stuff came from. Why? Because it’s fucking fascinating! If you look around you (do it now!) I bet odds are that 95-99% of everything around you came into existence within the last 200 years (unless you are reading this alone in a forest or field or some nature-y place). And that is so cool because it means someone or a string of successive someone’s came up with it! Also, this kind of thing makes good conversation fodder with brand new friends when you’re tired of talking about the weather. And you get to sound all smart and stuff.
To start out with, because y’all love you some science, I present Napoleon’s Buttons: 17 Molecules That Changed the World. That’s pretty much the summary. Some are naturally occurring and some are synthetic, but all had a lasting impact in the making of the modern world we live in. Most everything in the book we take for granted: salt, cloves, pepper… there were wars over that stuff back in the day.
I just about lost my mind with awesome when I was reading this book. I’d be reading while my boyfriend is playing video games and the conversation would go something like..
Me: Well, this book makes the case that industrial organic chemistry has its roots in the dye trade because of how lucrative the synthetic compound that makes mauve was. You see… *launches into 5 minute monologue synopsis of chapter* … And that gave birth to everything from modern pharmaceuticals to plastic. Neat, huh?
Boyfriend: Uh, yeah.
Me: You tuned me out at the beginning, didn’t you.
Boyfriend is ashamed.
The authors did a great job of summarizing the compounds and how they work and why they do what they do for the those lacking an organic chemistry background; so this book would be great for all readers (share it with yo friends!). The style of writing is engaging and entertaining as well, which makes this book a quick read.
Second, is Origin of Everyday Things, which is a little more encyclopedic in nature. Everyday things are listed alphabetically and a usually short history is given. The authors slip in some lame puns and bad jokes (which are my favorite!!) pretty frequently, so the writing isn’t dry and dull. My favorite parts are how some things came to be named what they are; for example, Frisbees are based off of pie tins from the Frisbie bakery that some college kids in New England would throw for fun. The list goes on and on. Some of the histories are funny, some are kind of sad, all of them are interesting.The boyfriend got lucky this time; I read this book on my lunch breaks at work. Well, not really… when we’re in the car (haha! captive audience!) I like to tell him what I read about that day, so he winds up hearing about it regardless.
Anyway, two really interesting books, check them out!