Money: The True Story of a Made-up Thing, Jacob Goldstein
Money: The True Story of a Made-up Thing is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s not an exhaustive history, or a manifesto for any particular path forward. Rather, it’s a series of stories about money in different time periods, which in aggregate tell us something about how money developed and how its been seen over time. It includes some really clear explanations of why the gold standard isn’t ideal, why the financial situation in Greece was a potential disaster for the euro, etc; it makes things which I thought were complicated sound really simple by breaking them down and demystifying them.
However, it’s worth noting that it doesn’t have footnotes. There are endnotes, which are not traditionally formatted but do point to some sources… but not nearly enough and not really specific enough to be able to say “ah, this assertion came from here, which I can read for myself”. It’s breezy and light and definitely intended for someone like me who is only very mildly interested in the topic, and it does well at being appealing for that audience. Others with more knowledge will no doubt find it shallow/overly-simplified/etc.
Apparently it’s Wednesday again already? Rude. But here we go!
What are you currently reading?
Non-fiction: I’m still reading Chris Gosden’s The History of Magic, which I continue to have the same caveats and concerns about as before. “Ritual purposes” are doing a lot of work with just about every kind of archaeological find.
Fiction: I’m now reading E.J. Beaton’s The Councillor, and finding it very absorbing. People mentioned it being slow, so I was prepared for that, but it doesn’t feel unduly so to me. I found some of the phrasing awkward at first, the substitutions telling us we’re in a fantasy world felt a biiit too prevalent, but I’m finding that now I’m used to it, it all works. I can just sink in for pages and pages and not notice how time is passing.
What have you recently finished reading?
The last thing I finished was Strange Beasts of China, by Yan Ge, which didn’t quite work for me — partly because it wasn’t what I expected, and partly because I had problems with what was explained and what wasn’t. Probably that’s partly my fault for being slow on the update, but I felt like I needed to make diagrams to understand bits of it…
I also just finished a reread of Susan Cooper’s Greenwitch, which I always like because it gives some space for Jane Drew to shine. Also the gorgeous descriptions in the chapter where Will and Merriman visit Tethys.
What will you be readingnext?
I don’t really know for sure, but for #BookSpinBingo on Litsy I know I need to pick up The Absolute Book (Elizabeth Knox) and Money: The True Story of a Made-up Thing (Jacob Goldstein)! So they’ll be my next fiction and non-fiction reads respectively, most likely.