Sunday Deep Dives

Deep reading and listening to help you enjoy your weekend (without an infinite scroll).

Thanks for being a part of Hiatus. I’ve compiled a few deep dives — a book, a video and an audio-only book — to help you kick back and learn this weekend without too much time scrolling through social media. 

Book: Money: The True Story of a Made-Up Thing by Jacob Goldstein

This is a great, high-level history book with some interesting and counterintuitive arguments about the early origins of money. I think it’s most useful this week for its chapter about Bitcoin, which is one of the best and clearest explanations of Blockchain and cryptocurrency I’ve seen. The takeaway is that crypto is an interesting speculative investment (that is, a gamble) but not yet positioned to replace real currency.

Video: The Armenian Genocide

The 1915 Armenian Genocide is in the news because Joe Biden became the first U.S. president to describe the killings and deportations as a genocide. Even as a self-proclaimed history buff, this chapter of history wasn’t clear to me, so I revisited the YouTube series “The Great War,” which has a 9-minute video explainer. (If you are in the mood for hundreds of hours of YouTube history, this whole series is wonderful.)

Audiobook: Caffeine: How Caffeine Created the Modern World by Michael Pollan

If you started your Sunday with a cup o’ joe and you enjoy audiobooks, this one is for you. (It was produced in partnership with Audible, so it’s audio-only.) Michael Pollan reprises his food-history-plus-introspective-personal-story genre that was so successful for him in The Omnivore’s Dilemma. And like his previous book, he lands “in the middle,” unwilling to totally vilify or eschew caffeine while also highlighting a bunch of major issues with it. In general, it’s a cool history book with lots of interesting nuggets about the ancient coffee trade and how caffeine affects the body, although I feel like he strains a bit to stay neutral even when the evidence points otherwise. (Full disclosure, today I had a decaf coffee and a caffeinated soda.)

Have a great Sunday!

– Rob Howard