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As a lifelong learner, I’m always on the hunt for a new read. I love to learn about all kinds of topics, and this often gets me teased by family and friends (all good-humored of course!). It may seem strange to some, but it’s fun to expand your horizons by learning about a multitude of different things. Some people prefer to read one topic or genre, and I’m jealous of their expertise. But, I guess I’d rather be a “jack of all trades, master of none.” If you’re like me and want to find some random books about topics that you never thought would have books…well, then you’ve come to the right place!

DISCLAIMER: As I was editing, I realized that without vocal cues, this post has the potential to sound snarky or sarcastic. I’m not being either of those things. I’m genuinely excited about these books (and you should be, too!)

I was looking for a book about beetles when I stumbled upon this book about krill. I’ll be honest with you all, I know next to nothing about krill, except that they are very small and whales eat them. So, of course, I’m very excited to check this one out. If you’re sitting at your computer/on your phone/listening to someone read this aloud to you and thinking: Huh. Krill sounds super-interesting! I want to read about it, too, then look no further than The Curious Life of Krill: A Conservation Story from the Bottom of the World (because, did I mention that these krill are from Antarctica?) Yeah. The coolness factor just went way up!

I know we’re not supposed to judge books by their covers, but I love the cover for Slime: How Algae Created Us, Plague Us, and Just Might Save Us. I also love the idea behind this book. Since I know next to nothing about algae (and I’m willing to bet that most of y’all don’t either) then this is a great opportunity for learning about a new topic. From oxygen to crude oil, algae is constantly useful in ways that would never occur to the average person. Read this book to learn all about the myriad types of algae, or how this fascinating organism is so much more than just regular old “pond scum”. Whether we realize it or not, it has become a huge part of our lives, from toothpaste to paint, beer to shampoo, chocolate milk, and more! Be the coolest person at your next cocktail party (virtual or otherwise) with your awesome algae knowledge!

As far as books go, The Secrets of Sand is one of the more visually stunning titles on this list. When we think of sand, we tend to think of the brown/yellow/white gritty stuff that we find on the beach, that’s full of shells, and gets into our swimsuits and between our toes. But, there is SO MUCH more to sand than that. When viewed under a microscope, sand goes from a handful of dust to a breathtaking collection of miniature gemstones, crystals, and usual shapes. Learn about what sand’s made of and how it forms, as well as the differences in sand in different locations, including the moon! I promise you: you’ll never look at a walk on the beach the same way again!

I love bananas; they’re so a-peeling! Haha! (Okay, sorry…that was pretty bad). But, seriously, bananas are a delicious fruit, a good source of potassium, and have many health benefits. Banana: The Fate of the Fruit that Changed the World is perfect for those of us who ever thought I’d like to learn more about this delicious berry while slicing it over our cornflakes in the morning. (And yes, for those of you making faces at your screens, bananas are technically berries). This fascinating book will delve into the biology and business of bananas. Where did they come from? How do you create more banana trees if the fruit is seedless? And what has the sale of bananas done for the global economy? If these are the big questions you like to ask yourself, then this is the book for you!

We’ll wrap this list up with perhaps the most surprising topic: yeast. The Rise of Yeast: How the Sugar Fungus Shaped Civilization definitely tops my list of “Wait…they made a book about that?” and I’m so excited about it! From fermenting our alcohol to making our bread rise, yeast really is an underappreciated and pivotal part of our daily lives. And it does more than just assisting in the kitchen. Learn about how this fascinating fungus (am I the only one who was surprised to learn it was a fungus?) has assisted in the creation of life-saving drugs and other scientific research. This very readable book will take you far back into human history as we explore humanity’s ongoing symbiotic relationship with yeast.


I'm the Reader's Advisory Librarian at WPPL. My interests include old horror films, classic novels, manga and anime, paper-crafting, and plants. If you like my suggestions, you can request personalized recommendations from me on My Librarian page.