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Cheers to History

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A History of the World in 6 Glasses

A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage takes readers on a historical journey from the Stone Age to the 21st century through our relationship with drinks. 

Book Buzz is a blog produced in collaboration with neighborhood librarians from Houston Public Library, Harris County Public Library and the Bellaire Library.

As a history lover, I relish books that enlighten my knowledge of places, people and events. It matters not if the information relates to people or events a few thousand years or a few hundred years old. I also love trivia and when a book is based with historical information that provides me trivia, I happily cozy up for an entertaining read, satisfying my curiosity about the world.

A History of the World in 6 Glasses is a book from 2005 about a historical journey from the Stone Age to the 21st century through our relationship with drinks. Author Tom Standage, at the time a technology editor at The Economist, uses six drinks - beer, wine, hard liquor, coffee, tea and Coca-Cola - to detail key periods in history.

Traditionally the holidays, especially New Year’s Eve, are a time to indulge in cocktails and champagne at festival gatherings so this book came to mind this week. I am more of a Dr. Pepper drinker and have been a designated driver too long to indulge in too many beers or rum and Cokes at parties, but I remember college days and the early party days where I learned to love champagne and was introduced to mixed drinks other than rum and Coke.

From “A History of the World in 6 Glasses” I learned that beer was discovered by our ancestors in the Fertile Crescent as they moved from hunters to gathers and stored their gruel made from the harvested cereal grains. The Greeks took grapes and made wine, Arabic scientists experimented with distillation for use on the long voyages of exploration, coffee quickly spread from Arabia to Europe becoming the "intellectual counterpoint to the geographical expansion of the Age of Exploration."

And hundreds of years after the Chinese began drinking tea, it became popular in Britain during the 18th and 19th centuries as the Industrial Revolution grew. Factory workers stayed more alert during long shifts thanks to tea breaks.

The last glass in this history? Coca-Cola, which started as a handmade medicinal drink but became a mass-produced global commodity. Carbonated drinks were invented in 18th century Europe, but Coca-Cola conquers the world.

So, whatever your choice of beverage is for celebration, enjoy and keep reading in 2018.

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