Indy Book Club May Pick: “ Why Fish Doesn’t Exist ”


Content Disclaimer: This book contains descriptions of eugenics and sterilization.

Besides the joy of snacks, the best part of being in a book club is listening to different points of view and hearing how others have interpreted a piece of literature. After I finished Lulu Miller’s twisty tale of science-meet-history-meet-memory, I realized that I had yet to reach the best part: discussing it.

Miller, former host of the NPR podcast Invisibilia, mingles her own life journey with the biography of David Starr Jordan and how she learned of the existence of this complex historical figure whose early philosophies she had used as a star in some of the most difficult moments of her life. life. As Miller writes the book, she learns the darker parts of Jordan’s story, and the reader learns with her.

Jordan was an accomplished 19th century ichthyologist (fish biologist) who wrote about the philosophy and importance of the scientific study of “what is hidden and insignificant.” He was the first president of Stanford University and also embodied and peddled white supremacist ideas, including eugenics, later in his life. As a reader, however, I question Miller’s claim that learning the full story of a man who was Eurocentric, speciesist, and downright racist is a way to bring meaning and understanding to your inner life. .

If you’ve ever listened Invisibilia, Why fish does not exist it’s like reading an extended version of a podcast episode. He asks big questions by following unexpected scientific reflections to take the viewer on a surprising journey. Miller’s writing is concise and thoughtful, and the book is quite short, ending with a beautiful revelation about the meaning of life and the pursuit of love.

Join us for a warm discussion on Why fish does not exist, a book packed with themes and topics for the Indy Book Club’s first in-person book club gathering on Thursday, June 3, 2021 at noon in the Sunken Gardens of the Santa Barbara County Courthouse.


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