Books & Tangents

Tangents are a marvelous thing. Specifically, tangential thoughts and discussions. We’ve all been there, something comes up in discussion that takes the conversation on a completely different track. And, with the internet, that is even easier to do. For instance, you were searching for great pirogi recipes and ended up reading about Napoleon III’s blundering in the Franco-Prussian War. While bing has made humorous commercials on this very fact, I think tangents are great for finding interests in areas you might have never come across before.

So, in the spirit of finding tangents, this post is going to be a list of memorable books I’ve read in the past few years. Perhaps you will find things of interest in different areas, or perhaps my tastes are dull and predictable. We’ll soon see.

Wink: The Incredible Life and Epic Journey of Jimmy Winkfield

I have to say that the narrative itself was a little lacking for me. Even that, however, cannot take away just how interesting Jimmy Winkfield’s life was. The world events he lived through personally because he was the last black Kentucky Derby winner before Jim Crow laws forced him out were something else. Great, great stuff.

Traders, Guns and Money: Knowns and unknowns in the dazzling world of derivatives

This book was such an awesome read. I like dorky things and this is very dorky. Aside from weaving a great and readable tale about the world of finance, the referential humor was so spot on. You can make analogies to financial derivatives and women’s shoes… and it makes perfect sense?! Hi-five Mr. Das!

The Great Mortality: A History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time

The personal stories of the horrific times were captivating. But I really found myself drawn to the few pages devoted to the aftereffects of the plague. In the emptied European landscape the world was upside down. The peasants and laborers had power because they were a scare commodity while the rich were hammered by both the higher labor costs and the fact they had no one to sell to. Just fascinating…

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair that Changed America

I don’t know why I’ve lost complete interest in reading fiction. My childhood was filled with all sorts of wondrous stories. Now, this book by Eric Larson has probably been the closest I have gotten since. His well researched account of events surrounding the World’s Fair in my hometown of Chicago is a darn good read.

Win-Win Ecology: How Earth’s Species Can Survive in the Midst of Human Enterprise

I’ve elaborated my views on conservation and sharing the planet here a few times before. My views align so closely to Dr. Rosenzweig’s book it’s scary. Or comforting. If you’re interested in an optimistic view of our world, this is an excellent place to start.

Encyclopedia Prehistorica Mega-Beasts

Best Pop-Up Book Ever!

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