“Oh, how I love thy. Let me count the ways . . .” This is NOT a book of those sorts of love letters. These are real love letters, the sorts that the general public was never meant to see. Some of the letters in this book are beautiful, eloquent and poetic. Some are very much not eloquent or poetic, yet it surprised us how much beauty there was on those also. Other People’s Love Letters, complied by Bill Shapiro, is the sort of book that will cause a single and lonely person to cry into his or her gin and tonic. For everyone else, it makes a lovely gift.
Eskimos only have 4, not 32, words for snow. Ostriches don’t bury their heads in the sand. At the time of Columbus almost no one believed the world was flat. There are words that rhyme with “orange.” And that story you may have heard about the horse and how Catherine The Great died . . . not so much. The Book of General Ignorance, by John Mitchinson, is a fascinating look at what you thought you knew. It is also useful for winning bar bets.
A lot less erotic and a lot more funny than you might imagine from reading the title, Bonk by Mary Roach examines the outrageous methods humans have used to study sex. Some of her examples reach back into history, from the ancient Greeks to the 1920s. But many of the studies Roach cites are more recent, and these might inspire you in inquire how it is you could get into this line of work. What’s especially amazing is how mysterious such an important and instinctual act for humans still is. Bonk is a compelling and entertaining read.