Reviews and Blog Posts: natural history

Cold, Colder, Coldest

Antarctica

During the colder months, some folks like to read about tropical climates and warm days. I have a tendency to want to read about places that are even colder than where I am.

Enter my obsession over books about Antarctica. I don't know that I'll ever get to visit there, but I do love to read about it, both in fiction and nonfiction. While there is a vast body of literature about Antarctic explorers such as Amundsen, Shackleton, and Scott, my reading about the cold continent tends to be about modern folks--scientists and other curious types--who have recorded their time there and are often studying the (few) animals that live there, along with other studies including climate change, the earth's history, and even the possibilities of life on Mars.

What is the Rocky Mountain Land Library?

Rocky Mountain Land Library

The Rocky Mountain Land Library's simple mission is to encourage a greater awareness of the land and access to stewardship tools so that we may work together to preserve our land.

Its 20,000 + volume natural history library is especially focused on the land and communities of the Rocky Mountains. The Land Library is currently engaged in a site search to provide both the shelves and proper environment for a truly unique residential land-study center.

Popular Science

2010 was a great year for accessible science writing. If you want to learn something and be entertained at the same time, try out some of these recent popular science and natural history titles.

The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean, Susan Casey

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, Siddhartha Mukherjee

The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival, John Vaillant

How Many Teeth Does a Snail Have?

When I think of comforting, compelling animal companions, I didn't think of snails until I read The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey. During a long period of an autoimmune illness, a snail that a friend brought to her room was both companion and source of wonder.

The book that Bailey has compiled, comprised of both her experience with "her" snail and extensive research into the natural history of snails is a fascinating read. When the snail first arrived in Bailey's life, she was a bit annoyed--she could barely take care of herself, she didn't need another creature to worry about. Despite this, she soon found watching the snail almost meditative, and she began to follow the rhythms of its nocturnal life, becoming fascinated with its habits. She found out about the eating and reproductive habits of snails, about their unique anatomy.

American Earth : environmental writing since Thoreau

DPL Rating:
4

This huge anthology can be read from beginning to end, but it is just as satisfying to pick and choose a poem, essay or speech as you wish or just flip through the sections of photographs. It includes pieces about individual encounters with the wild to political calls-to-arms to elegies...

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