Lucky bugger's casebook,
This review is from: The Lucky Bugger's Casebook: Tales of Serendipity and Outrageous Good Fortune (Paperback)
While this title leads us to believe that serendipity is all we need, I must add that many of the science discoveries and some of the others were hit upon as a result of sheer hard work. Alexander Fleming is one often-cited case. He wasn't the tidiest about the lab and noticed that some petri dish lids had come ajar - in one a fungal organism had started to grow and was inhibiting the growth of bacteria around it. Penicillin was therefore discovered. But Fleming was a hard worker who spent a lot of time in the lab. If he wasn't the tidiest, he was there, conducting lots of tests. The good luck was that he didn't bin the lot without recording the difference observed.
Other people did seem to be more lucky but again diligent hard work played its part. Harrison Ford was a jobbing actor when he could not get enough parts to support his family. He took up carpentry and worked for a lot of movie and music people before getting to make some cabinets for George Lucas, who after a chat offered him a minor part in a film. Two years later they reconnected and Ford got to play Han Solo in Star Wars. I like the comment at the end of this piece - "Should it all end tomorrow, he must be comforted to know he has a trade to fall back on."
We get looks at science though history, cats, criminally stupid criminals and modern roles in Strictly Come Dancing, which I've never watched. There's a wide variety provided by the author but I preferred the science and invention tales. This is easy dip-into reading and you can use it to entertain others or as a present for someone.