Thanks a Thousand

I have a weakness for seemingly silly books that at least vaguely tackle tough questions. That makes me an A. J. Jacobs fan.

I first encountered him in his It’s All Relative about his plans to host to world’s largest family reunion which was really a book about how interconnected we are.

Thanks a Thousand is cut from the same cloth. Rather than trying to track down all of his relatives, he sets out to thank all of the people who contributed to the cup of coffee he buys each morning. He starts with the barista who turns out to be  an interesting immigrant who has the job while putting herself through college. He doesn’t stop there. He thanks the chain’s owner. The truck drivers who get the beans to the warehouse. The pesticide dealer who keeps the bugs out of the coffee beans. He makes a trip to Colombia to thank the family who grew the beans. To Indiana to thank the steelworkers whose efforts contributed to all of those trucks.

He stopped when he thank over a thousand people. Which you can find out because they are listed in lieu of footnotes.

So, like It’s All Relative, this is a book about interdependence.

But even more, as the subtitle suggests, it’s a book about gratitude and paying forward what we have gained from others–whether it’s a morning jolt of caffeine or someone else’s effort to forge a more peaceful world.