Beyond Bestsellers: Weird History

by Emily Z.

It’s a new month and that means a new Beyond Bestsellers theme!

This October, we’re all about keeping it weird and historical with some weird history.

What is that? Is that a genre of book now? Yes.

Why just weird history, you ask?

Well, the thing about history is that there’s a lot of it and it’s everywhere. The air you’re breathing? It is crammed with history. The tacos you had last week? Same deal. Attempting to tackle all of it would be overwhelming. Just ask any history major who’s been dragged to a pub quiz only to be pilloried because they didn’t know when the Parliament of Iceland was founded. Maybe it’s because their focus was High Medieval and Early Modern England and not The Entirety of Recorded Human Activity, Erica.

For your sanity and mine, this month is about exploring the niche, surprising, inappropriate, underappreciated, unsavory, undercover, oddball, out of the ordinary, and very specific history (a.k.a. “micro-histories”). I’ve corralled a varied assembly of themes to get you started, ranging from the goofy to the gruesome (because 1. It’s October and 2. Horrific behavior is still considered pretty weird) and places in between.

If you’re still feeling overawed, I have some suggestions to get you started:

1) Take The Quiz to see a suggested list of weird history titles

2) Try our hand-picked, free, no-waiting (this month) eBook, The Day the World Came to Town by Jim DeFede. It is the true account of a small Newfoundland town welcoming in the passengers of nearly 40 displaced aircraft during the chaos of September 11th, 2001. It is also the inspiration for the hit musical “Come From Away.”

3) Check out the sampler list

And as in months prior, we also love seeing the lists you make. This is an opportunity to promote your favorite books about your favorite bits of history. Your picks don’t all need to be about one period or country. They don’t need to come from one Dewey decimal range either. Remember, history is everywhere just waiting to strike be uncovered. If you’d like your list to show up in our wrap-up post at the end of this month, remember to start the title of it with “Beyond Bestsellers: Weird History [your title here]” so I can find it.

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2 responses to “Beyond Bestsellers: Weird History”

  1. Lindsey A. says:

    I’ve been waiting months for this topic! Weird history is my favorite history. I created a list of unsolved history mysteries, but I also really love books about weird people in history. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough of them! (Books, that is. There were plenty of historical weirdos.) Your quiz is hilarious!

    • Emily Z says:

      Oh man, me too! I’m so glad there are more books on history’s strangeness than ever, although yes, there could certainly be more published on humanity’s high-quality weirdies. I just started reading “The Poison Squad“, which is about Dr. Harvey Washington Wiley. He fought for food safety regulations (you know, because we use to use formaldehyde as a preservative in milk) and was known to be obsessively uncompromising and maybe even a bit… prickly. Food adulteration is an interesting (see: gross) topic and I’m glad to finally have someone other than Upton Sinclair to read about.

      I definitely had fun making the quiz 🙂

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