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Randomly Good Nonfiction

October 14, 2021

I love finding good books apropos of nothing. These are those books. Highly enjoyed. Absolutely unrelated to anything.

I am not good at geography. That said, I kind of maybe know where Israel is - mostly thanks to Jesus and Sunday School. The Middle East is such an unstable region, though, and things are always changing. I have a feeling that I’m not alone when I say that I never really know what’s going on or why everyone is always fighting. So when I saw this book, I immediately grabbed it and plowed through. First of all, know that this is not full of propaganda. The author is Israeli (now living in the US), and while she is a patriot, she also disagrees with some of her homeland’s choices. The viewpoint felt fairly balanced and was about as even as it could be considering the author’s background. This book was easy to read and enjoyable. It’s surprisingly one of my favorite books I’ve read this year. I now think I have a bit of a better understanding of just what is going on over there. And I’d like to be friends with Tishby. She sounds like she’d be fun at parties. (She is also behind the HBO hit In Treatment, if you thought her name sounded familiar, but couldn’t place it.)

Do I love sports? Eh...not really. But I grew up in Indiana and have spent more time in a gym watching my brother play basketball than should be physically possible. I vaguely remember reading about what the NBA was doing, but I didn’t realize the extent to which they went to finish the 2019-2020 season. As a reporter for the Washington Post, Golliver was one of a handful of reporters that were invited to join the bubble, and he got a front seat for all the basketball he could handle. It was interesting to read about the uber-strict health regulations, and it is pretty impressive that they managed to pull it off without one person being diagnosed with COVID. If you are a basketball fan, this would be a great read. Even if you are not, this is was still an interesting snapshot of one of the weirdest seasons ever played.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m fond of Charleston. In my recent readings, I came across this strong, independent woman who lived in Charles Town during the Revolution and who was the matriarch of one of Charleston’s dynastic families. Born in Antigua and educated in England, Eliza first took care of her father’s plantations, then her husband’s. She was a strong proponent of indigo manufacturing and was one of the first to do so in the colonies. The Pinckney name is all over Charleston’s history. I was afraid this one was going to be dry and academic, but it really pulled me in and kept me engaged. It’s an ILL-er, but very worth the effort.

I am not hip or with it on any level. The first time I ever heard about the Birkin bag was on an episode of The Gilmore Girls when Logan gives Rory a bag as a present. Her grandmother, Emily, is over the moon, but Rory has no idea what it is. I didn’t either. But author Michael Tonello spent several years of his life, travelling to various Hermes stores around the world on an epic quest to purchase these beauties. Birkin bags cost anywhere from $8,000 to $25,000 each (um...what?). Needless to say, I own exactly none of these. My motto has always been if I spend that much on a purse (for me this number is usually north of $60, not $6000, but I digress), I would have nothing to put in it. I was a little disappointed that Tonello was a reseller who was going to put his finds on eBay and not keep them for himself, but his story was captivating. His lifestyle was SO DIFFERENT from mine. It’s good to experience new things - even vicariously through other people. Especially when the price tag is in the five-figure range.

This book made me the smartest out of all of these selections, but I must admit that it also blew my mind a bunch of times. There was so much here I didn’t know and had no idea was happening. Did you know that elements on the periodic table don’t just exist? You can create them through fission with other elements. I had no idea. I have watched The Big Bang Theory 900 times and I didn’t know that’s what Sheldon’s Wonder Blunder was. I didn’t realize that he’d discovered element 120 - and then not discovered it. Also, I learned how instrumental our own nuclear facility in Oak Ridge is in the search for superheavy elements. So much so that recent discovery of element 117 was named Tennessine after their work to help find it. Boom! Mind blown again. The author does a great job of using humor to explain very complicated science. Read this one. Learn things. Trust me.

I would make a pretty solid bet that there is something here for anyone - except fiction people, but I’m coming for you soon. 

Happy randomizing…

:) Amanda

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Amanda is a classically-trained pianist who loves to read. Like any good librarian, she also has two cats named after Italian cities. Amanda spends her free time sitting in Nashville traffic, baking, and running the Interlibrary Loan office at the Nashville Public Library.