A Lot About a Little

By Beacon Staff

Rats, tea and the flu may seem like small things, but they each changed the world. Want to know why and how? Read on.

Every one of these books is a microhistory, exploring the details and influence of a very specific subject.

Food and Drink.

“Tea” by Laura C. Martin. Follow the 2,000-year-old drink from China to Japan, India, England and beyond. It has been an icon of the Japanese tea ceremony as well as a commodity traded for silver, tobacco and even opium.

“Milk” by Anne Mendelson. What the author describes as nature’s perfect food, milk today is far from the unrefrigerated sheep’s and goat’s milk consumed in ancient Persia, Israel and India. “Milk” includes history, science and recipes, in one creamy package.

Things We Like.

“Bonk” by Mary Roach. The history of sexuality research, complete with monkeys, blow-up dolls and enhancement devices. Science plus humor makes for a less-than-dry read.

“Stuff” by Randy O. Frost. What’s the difference between owning, collecting and hoarding? Clutter blindness, goat trails, so much stuff there’s no room to sleep…that’s hoarding.

Nasty Bits.

“Rats” by Robert Sullivan. The lowliest of creatures is brought into the spotlight during the author’s yearlong observation in Manhattan. Highlights include rat-fighting entrepreneurs, plague and garbage.

“Flu” by Gina Bari Kolata. This reads like a detective story about the deadly flu of 1918. You’ll wish it were fiction, but it’s actually the terrifying truth.
While you’re reading, store up a few tidbits for your next social gathering. These uncommon facts will be ideal for filling lulls in casual conversation.

ImagineIF Libraries encourage exploration, fresh ideas and self-discovery. Learn more at www.imagineiflibraries.org.

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.