Books About Things You Never Knew You Cared About and A Review for The Plant Messiah

Big surprise, I like learning. I genuinely loved the majority of my college classes and geek out planning lessons for my students.  I am definitely in the camp of firmly believing you learn from everything you read, but it’s especially exciting to learn about something completely new to you in a book, isn’t it?
Along with my review of Doubleday’s upcoming book The Plant Messiah, I decided to put a stack of books together that equally made me eager to discover more about a topic I never cared about that much before.

Review of The Plant Messiah: Adventures in Search of the World’s Rarest Species

That excitement of learning something completely new is why I was thrilled to receive an advanced copy of Carlos Magdalena’s The Plant Messiah from partner Doubleday Books.  Admittedly, the cover first caught my eye (and you should check out the latest one- it’s possibly even more gorgeous!), but the concept of a man traveling the world to search out endangered species of plants sounded so interesting and Jane Goodall’s blurb didn’t hurt.
Ever since I read the book, I’ve been eagerly sharing my new fun facts with anyone who will listen like the schooling required to receive a Kew Diploma, the crazy things flowers do to pollinate themselves, and the near impossibility of Brazil nuts existing. I particularly loved the last section of the book when he details his trips to South America and Australia.  It was so much fun getting caught up in his adventures from the high altitudes of the Andes to the wet tropics of Queensland.   I did find that the narrator’s pacing and voice felt off to me (perhaps because English is his second language?), but thankfully it didn’t take me too much out of my fascination with his story. Now I’m rooting for a TV show where viewers dive along behind him in the rain forest or worriedly bite their nails while he debates whether or not to go in potentially crocodile infested waters to get a sample of a water lily.  Netflix, get on that.
The book comes out April 10 and I’d definitely recommend adding it to your reading list if any of this has piqued has your interest.

More Books About Things You Never Knew You Cared About

The Hidden Life of Trees: A Visual Celebration of a Magnificent World

Peter Wohlleben

This is in my non-imaginary book stack from the library right now, so I haven’t read it yet, but I was fascinated by a podcast about how trees COMMUNICATE WITH EACH OTHER (!) and this nerd is ready to know more.

West with the Night

Beryl Markham

Beryl Markham was the first person to fly a solo, non-stop trip over the Atlantic. She also led a pretty darn crazy life in Africa during the 1920s and 1930s. I am not into planes nor horses, but this book made me not at all mind reading about both.

Soul of a Chef

Michael Ruhlman

I like food, but I’d never ever want to be in the world of chefs. Well, I’d never want to actually be in it, but I do like vicariously experiencing it through Ruhlman.

In Other Words

Jhumpa Lahiri

I heard about this one recently on Anne Bogel’s What Should I Read Next podcast and became very excited about the idea of exploring more about translations.

The Gallery

Laura Marx Fitzgerald

Art history intertwined into a middle grade mystery set in the 1920s in New York. It’s like the interesting art stuff in the first part of The Goldfinch minus that later Las Vegas nonsense.

The Left-Handed Fate

Kate Milford

Kate Milford is the author of the better known Greenglass House series. In this book I loved learning about the War of 1812 and, surprisingly, a lot about pirates.

The Martian

Andy Weir

Anyone else get really into the science of this one?

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania

Erik Larson

Haven’t read it, but I’ve heard nothing but good things about Erik Larson’s writing and this one sounds fascinating.

Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science

Jeannine Atkins

I had never heard of any of these three girls who helped changed science and came away feeling so empowered.


I’d love to know: what books are some you geeked out over or made you interested in something you never thought you cared about?

If you would like to join in on the fun, please go to the submissions page!

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  • Stacy says:

    I loved this post!! What fascinating books! Other than The Martian, which I really enjoyed, I haven’t read any of these books. I will be adding them to my list. A book I read a couple years ago that I just loved was Swimming to Antarctica by Lynne Cox, where I learned all about long distance swimming. It’s a memoir and you follow along with the author’s journey where she eventually starts traveling to swim in the coldest waters in the world. Fascinating!

    • Erin says:

      Hi Stacy, Thank you so much! That makes me happy to hear. I am adding Swimming to Antarctica to my list right now. That sounds absolutely amazing and I’m so glad you let me know about it.

  • Emily says:

    Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart definitely made me geek out about botany and poison. Listening to parts of Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer was both riveting and horrifying. It also confirmed my desire never to summit a mountain…

    Adding many of these to my TBR!

    • Erin says:

      Ooo definitely checking that one out. Sounds fascinating- thank you! I read Into Thin Air in seventh grade and recently found my journal entries about it. Basically, I kept saying: why do people do this?? I love hiking mountains, but not climbing and would definitely never risk my life!

  • What a great idea for a book list! I also love books that make me excited about a new topic and I find that well written nonfiction can make me interested in pretty much any topic 🙂

    • Erin says:

      Thank you, Katie! I do find it hard to discover well written nonfiction, unfortunately, but, you’re right, when you do it’s so darn interesting. Any favorites?

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