"Just One Thing": Microhistory Books and Beyond
Gathered here are nonfiction books, popularly referred to as "microhistories", that you'll find shelved in bookstores and libraries in a multitude of different categories: history, science, biography, natural history, fashion, psychology, anthropology, sociology, technology. . .
What they all have in common is that they focus with an intense concentration on a single subject - on "just one thing". And, in doing so, these books cast a uniquely revealing and stimulating light on the cultures, milieus, or eras surrounding that subject. Subjects obsessed on range from beer to butter, from cadavers to corsets, from fonts to fur, from gems to ghosts, from paper to pirates, from rabies to rust, from toilets to trees. . .
No matter what your favorite obsession, you'll most likely find an author on this list of rich curiosities who got there first!
- Please note that the academic definition of "microhistory" is a bit different than the popular definition and refers to an extremely detailed examination of a single, otherwise obscure person, place, or event. Thus the use of "Beyond" in the title of this list.
- Also note that this twelve-page list is not organized or ranked in any order - though books that must be back-ordered or pre-ordered tend to be at the end of the list and recently-released or newly-discovered titles tend to be at the beginning.
A Boob's Life: How America's Obsession Shaped Me...and You
The Things We Make: The Unknown History of Invention from...
Of Fear and Strangers: A History of Xenophobia
Sticky: The Secret Science of Surfaces
Index, A History of the: A Bookish Adventure from Medieval...
Worn: A People's History of Clothing
The Urge: Our History of Addiction
Carl Erik Fisher
Sweat: A History of Exercise
Seven Games: A Human History
License to Travel: A Cultural History of the Passport
Orchid Muse: A History of Obsession in Fifteen Flowers
There Plant Eyes: A Personal and Cultural History of Blindness
M Leona Godin
Beaverland: How One Weird Rodent Made America
Water: A Biography
Spare Parts: The Story of Medicine Through the History of...
Slaves for Peanuts: A Story of Conquest, Liberation, and a...
This Mortal Coil: A History of Death
Birds and Us: A 12,000-Year History from Cave Art to...
The Story of Work: A New History of Humankind
Oxford History of Board Games
Beyond Measure: The Hidden History of Measurement from Cubits...
Well of Souls: Uncovering the Banjo's Hidden History
Kristina R. Gaddy
Once They Were Hats: In Search of the Mighty Beaver
The Cigarette: A Political History
Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our Way to...
Please note that this twelve-page list is not organized or ranked in any order - though books that must be back-ordered or pre-ordered tend to be at the end of the list and recently-released or newly-discovered titles tend to be at the beginning.