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Why Fish Don't Exist: A Story of Loss, Love,…
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Why Fish Don't Exist: A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life (edition 2021)

by Lulu Miller (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8314126,456 (4.06)13
Biography & Autobiography. Nature. Nonfiction. HTML:A Best Book of 2020: The Washington Post * NPR * Chicago Tribune * Smithsonian

A "remarkable" (Los Angeles Times), "seductive" (The Wall Street Journal) debut from the new cohost of Radiolab, Why Fish Don't Exist is a dark and astonishing tale of love, chaos, scientific obsession, andâ??possiblyâ??even murder.â??

"At one point, Miller dives into the ocean into a school of fish...comes up for air, and realizes she's in love. That's how I felt: Her book took me to strange depths I never imagined, and I was smitten." â??The New York Times Book Review
David Starr Jordan was a taxonomist, a man possessed with bringing order to the natural world. In time, he would be credited with discovering nearly a fifth of the fish known to humans in his day. But the more of the hidden blueprint of life he uncovered, the harder the universe seemed to try to thwart him. His specimen collections were demolished by lightning, by fire, and eventually by the 1906 San Francisco earthquakeâ??which sent more than a thousand discoveries, housed in fragile glass jars, plummeting to the floor. In an instant, his life's work was shattered.

Many might have given up, given in to despair. But Jordan? He surveyed the wreckage at his feet, found the first fish that he recognized, and confidently began to rebuild his collection. And this time, he introduced one clever innovation that he believed would at last protect his work against the chaos of the world.

When NPR reporter Lulu Miller first heard this anecdote in passing, she took Jordan for a foolâ??a cautionary tale in hubris, or denial. But as her own life slowly unraveled, she began to wonder about him. Perhaps instead he was a model for how to go on when all seemed lost. What she would unearth about his life would transform her understanding of history, morality, and the world beneath her feet.

Part biography, part memoir, part scientific adventure, Why Fish Don't Exist is a wondrous fable about how to persevere in a world where chaos wi
… (more)
Member:Craftylily
Title:Why Fish Don't Exist: A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life
Authors:Lulu Miller (Author)
Info:Simon & Schuster (2021), Edition: First Edition, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
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Why Fish Don't Exist: A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life by Lulu Miller

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» See also 13 mentions

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https://www.instagram.com/p/C6d-CEdLWvn/

Lulu Miller - Why Fish Don’t Exist: A Story of Loss, Love and the Hidden Order of Life: This is a perfect book for Type A’s. Life is chaos and you can’t always order everything and it’s OKAY. #cursorybookreviews #cursoryreviews ( )
  khage | May 2, 2024 |
Based on the hype and a glowing recommendation from a dear friend, I had high hopes for this book. Instead it fell flat for me. It seems that I was supposed to be very moved by the author's personal struggles, but they weren't talked about in enough depth, or often enough, or with too little emotion. These struggles just weren't interesting and frankly didn't feel like they belonged in what was clearly a book about David Starr Jordan. Overall, the book was flat and a little dull. ( )
  blueskygreentrees | Mar 4, 2024 |
Audiobook

Im pretty sure this one got on my list because it was on a “best of” audible list one year. It’s a very easy audio book to fall in to - the author is a podcast person (I know her from Invisibilia) and large sections of this book feel a lot like a podcast that you might hear from National Geographic or NPR. The story is part memoir and part history/biography of an old time scientist David Star Jordan, who did taxonomic research on fish and had a storied career.

I was enjoying it well enough at first but I started to get a little bored in the middle and I couldn’t quite understand why Miller was so fascinated with this guy and his fish labels. I almost abandoned the whole thing but I glimpsed a review on Goodreads that mentioned the shocking end of the book and that was enough to pull be back in.

What a turn things take with the legacy of Jordan! A true surprise.

The final chapter that explains the book title and the epilogue are really worth the dull parts about fish cataloging on the middle.

Everything can change in an instant with a shift in perspective. ( )
  hmonkeyreads | Jan 25, 2024 |
Lulu Miller's "Why Fish Don't Exist" is, substantially, a biography of David Starr Jordan, taxonomist, discoverer of about twenty percent of all known fish, first President of Stanford University, and more. But the book is more fundamentally about Miller's efforts to orient herself -- toward her father, her family, other people and the universe.

It's full of surprises. They're essential to the narrative arc, so I won't spoil them here. It's got some good science, but doesn't shy away from the harm science has done. Miller wrestles with eugenics and entropy and human relationships personally, and with Jordan as her proxy.

I really liked it. ( )
  mikeolson2000 | Dec 27, 2023 |
DNF ( )
  CharleySweet | Jul 2, 2023 |
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Biography & Autobiography. Nature. Nonfiction. HTML:A Best Book of 2020: The Washington Post * NPR * Chicago Tribune * Smithsonian

A "remarkable" (Los Angeles Times), "seductive" (The Wall Street Journal) debut from the new cohost of Radiolab, Why Fish Don't Exist is a dark and astonishing tale of love, chaos, scientific obsession, andâ??possiblyâ??even murder.â??

"At one point, Miller dives into the ocean into a school of fish...comes up for air, and realizes she's in love. That's how I felt: Her book took me to strange depths I never imagined, and I was smitten." â??The New York Times Book Review
David Starr Jordan was a taxonomist, a man possessed with bringing order to the natural world. In time, he would be credited with discovering nearly a fifth of the fish known to humans in his day. But the more of the hidden blueprint of life he uncovered, the harder the universe seemed to try to thwart him. His specimen collections were demolished by lightning, by fire, and eventually by the 1906 San Francisco earthquakeâ??which sent more than a thousand discoveries, housed in fragile glass jars, plummeting to the floor. In an instant, his life's work was shattered.

Many might have given up, given in to despair. But Jordan? He surveyed the wreckage at his feet, found the first fish that he recognized, and confidently began to rebuild his collection. And this time, he introduced one clever innovation that he believed would at last protect his work against the chaos of the world.

When NPR reporter Lulu Miller first heard this anecdote in passing, she took Jordan for a foolâ??a cautionary tale in hubris, or denial. But as her own life slowly unraveled, she began to wonder about him. Perhaps instead he was a model for how to go on when all seemed lost. What she would unearth about his life would transform her understanding of history, morality, and the world beneath her feet.

Part biography, part memoir, part scientific adventure, Why Fish Don't Exist is a wondrous fable about how to persevere in a world where chaos wi

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