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Herodotus: The Histories

Once upon a time there was a bird that made its nests out of cinnamon. It was called Cynnamolgus. You collected cinnamon by tricking it with dead oxen.

This is the history of the world along those lines.

6ff74e82 tiny Jonathan Soma for history
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You should know more about historic cocktails! Wondrich breaks down the original recipes and ingredients in detail, giving you way more than "here is a bushel of recipes."

Get this book.

6ff74e82 tiny Jonathan Soma for drinks and alcohol
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Whiskey: The Definitive World Guide

No, they aren't lying, it is the definitive world guide. And don't look so confused - it's a different Michael Jackson.

6ff74e82 tiny Jonathan Soma for food, drinks, and alcohol
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Drink: A Cultural History of Alcohol

The best, number one, and most perfect history of alcohol I've ever read. I'm come across plenty, and nothing approaches the subject with as much breadth or depth as Drink.

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A Splintered History of Wood: Belt-Sander Races, Blind Woodworkers, and Baseball Bats

You will ruin cocktail parties with your knowledge of wood.

6ff74e82 tiny Jonathan Soma for crafts, industry, and nature
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A Korean Mother's Cooking Notes

Chang Sun-Young will make you a Korean grandmother. This book replaced my much-cherished bulgogi recipe.

6ff74e82 tiny Jonathan Soma for food, korean, and asian
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Homemade Root Beer, Soda & Pop

The cover art is questionable but the recipes are fun and interesting. I'd love a book that's 100% root beer recipes, but that's not gonna happen.

6ff74e82 tiny Jonathan Soma for food and drinks
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The Little Book of Whittling

It's the best hobby. Fallen trees become a goldmine.

6ff74e82 tiny Jonathan Soma for crafts and nature
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Man Crafts

Kind of a disappointment! Lots of things to do with logs, though.

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Ways of Seeing

Two diverse and game-changing books (along with On Photography) about art and photography. 

Missing Vinny Senguttuvan for art
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The Emperor of Scent

If you don't feel like reading Luca Turin's book about scent you might as well read Chandler Burr's book about him.

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The Woodbook

Pictures of wood. Radial, horizontal, and vertical cuts of wood. That's about it.

It might sound weird, but if you raise your eyebrows, I will say to you: it is stunning.

6ff74e82 tiny Jonathan Soma
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Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid

Douglas Hofstadter's classic take on mathematics, art, and knowledge. The publisher says it's "in the spirit of Lewis Carroll" and I'm one to agree.

6ff74e82 tiny Jonathan Soma for history and science