So in science writing, we're reading Michael Pollan's The Botany of Desire. I'm really loving it so far, and I want to read his other stuff; but the last chapter we read, on the tulip, has made me want to read something else too. He had a whole section on black tulips, and the mania in Holland during the 1600s (I think that was the century) where there were competitions for this, and tulip bulbs were more precious and valuable than anything else. I thought the idea of a black tulip was evocative, intoxicating and chilling at the same time; the symbolic significance of a black tulip is also impossible to ignore, especially with the greed that accompanied them in Holland. There is in fact one tulip, called the Queen of Night, that is almost black--Pollan described it as a deep purplish maroon, the darkest a flower can be without actually being black. He also mentioned Alexandre Dumas' book The Black Tulip, a book I'd never heard of, that centers on one of the competitions in Holland to cultivate a black tulip and the lives that are ruined in the process. I think I would like to read this book someday.
Something else I was thinking about recently is how far my interests have expanded as far as my reading list goes. Since my birthday is coming up, though I'm not sure how many people who read this are actually close enough to want to buy me a birthday present, I think I'd like those who do to get me a random book. Maybe one they think I'd enjoy, one that just looks good, something crazy from a section I've never really looked at before--just as long as it looks interesting. I don't know if this will actually happen, or how many presents I will actually get for my birthday, but I think it's a nice idea anyway.