Staff from your Monroe County Public Library recommend some of their favorites from the collection.  

What: “Why Fish Don’t Exist” by Lulu Miller 

Why: Taxonomy is classification – in biology, it’s ordering the natural world into species, genus, family, etc. It’s a way of making sense of the vast chaos around us – and sometimes in us. DNA has shaken up the established taxonomies of some animals (so a falcon is actually more of a parrot than a hawk????) but in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, scientists were going with what they could see in front of them. David Starr Jordan was an early exemplar of the field, collecting almost 20 percent of the known species of fish at the time. Yet his rigorous work did not spare him from chaos in his own life – including some he inflicted on others. Lulu Miller’s slim work of nonfiction (the older I get, the more I’m for that) starts out as a biography of Jordan but becomes much more – a memoir, a meditation on finding your purpose in life while coping with the chaos all around us – and a little dash of true crime that’s an eye-opener on her original subject. 

Where: This is available as a print book from the Monroe County Public Library system. 

How: You can request books online by logging in to your account and get e-books and e-audiobooks 24/7 at If you don’t have a card, you can visit your local branch or register online to get one. Questions?  

Recommended by: Nancy Klingener, community affairs manager 

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