The Tulip by Anna Pavord

This entry is part 14 of 23 in the series 2023 Reads

Like all the posts in my 2023 reads list, this comes at a lag, meaning I read this a while back—in this case, last week. 

So, I stumbled onto this book at a used bookstore in Cheongju, and bought it hoping it would discuss the tulipomania—the tulip craze that swept the Netherlands (and other parts of Europe) centuries ago. It does, but… not in the way I expected. There’s a lot of detail in this book, and a great deal of it involves what could fairly be called “inside baseball” information: who cultivated what kinds of tulips and sold them for how much, who painted what kinds of tulips with this or that kind of implied meaning, and so on. 

It’s a bit like a history of beanie babies, if beanie babies had been a craze for over a century in many countries, and if the account discussed stuff like the stitching patterns, famous beanie baby collectors, and the photography of these supposedly-collectible toys. Way more detail than I was ready for, about aspects of the story of the tulip I wasn’t specifically curious about. 

The color art plates are pretty, but I ended up skimming a lot of the book, and finding something to hold my interest only a few times in each chapter. It would be fair to say the book was not really for me… or for many people, I guess, but to the people it is for, I bet it’s like a goldmine of information. 


Series Navigation<< <em>The All-American</em> by Joe Milan<em>Uninhabitable Earth</em> by David Wallace-Wells >>

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