Something Different for Pandemic Times

I’ve been staying at home “social distancing” for about a week now, hoping to avoid the Corona Virus pandemic that is recently sweeping across the globe. That has increased my time to read, which is a prime source of entertainment for me, because I can stay in and read without needing an excuse. I know this experience is excruciating for some as their livelihoods are in doubt and others as they battle the illness itself. Businesses are struggling, schools have sent their children home, and healthcare workers and first responders are being pushed to their limits.

Since my daughter is an EMT, we are not immune to the tension that surrounds this event. Perhaps that’s another reason I find myself reading more. If I’m involved in a book i can’t worry about my daughter and whether she will have enough protective equipment to get through this event.

Following the above thought to it’s natural conclusion, I think you could say reading is not only a source of entertainment but a source of refuge for me. If the same exists for you, or if you are simply looking for something new to read, let me tell you about a new book I just finished. Why Fish Don’t Exist by Lulu Miller defines genre classification. It’s a mix of biography, personal story, and self-help guide. While that may sound an odd mix, it actually all flows together logically. My favorite part, I think, was the end where she drew some conclusion; but I’ll let you make that choice. If you’re intrigued, here’s my review.


When I first opened this book, I was expecting more of a biography on the life and studies of taxonomist and former Stanford University President David Starr Jordan. His work in classifying fish was groundbreaking in his day, marred by the destruction of many of his exhibits in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

Once I began reading, I discovered much more. There were many details about David Starr Jordan and his work, at times perhaps more than I would have liked. However, the details were given in the context of the author’s own unraveling world. Indeed, she says she started the book seeking answers to her own bouts of depression. She had heard the story of Jordan and wondered what kept him motivated, what caused him to start again in the face of scientific devastation? She outlines some of the situations which created her own emotional turmoil and her hopes for what she would find by studying  Jordan’s efforts.

In the middle of the book, the book becomes more of a memoir. Her own experiences of love, loss, and eventually, love again. Her bouts with depression, questions of what contributed to it, and how she might overcome it. In the process of examining her own life and it’s turn around, the book morphs again into a possible self-help type guide where someone inclined might find inspiration to move forward in their own life.

This was an interesting book, and one I would recommend to any reader looking for something complex or a little different. The research Miller conducted in order to write details of Jordan’s life was extensive and there are pages upon pages of references for anyone who is interested in using it or others she details to write a research based paper. There is also some intrigue offered, particularly into the death of Stanford’s co-founder Jane Stanford, in case the reader is looking for a little mystery. While at times I wanted to put the book down for a while, becoming overwhelmed with data, it wasn’t long before I found myself picking it back up again, wondering where it was going to go next.

My thanks to Simon and Schuster Publishers and NetGalley for an advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for an objective review.


Hope you are doing well and have escaped being ill. I’m scheduling this to be published on April 14th, so I don’t know if we will all still be sequestering/social distancing; but regardless, I’ll still be finding new books, so for now I’ll say Happy Reading.