Reading matters


I’m just about done with a couple of natural history books I got myself in the post-Christmas binge (one of the few times a year I allow myself to purchase new, rather than pre-owned, books). Confession: I lose interest in well over half the books that seem perfect for me; never getting around to finishing them, [...] [...]

Fabulous finds

I was browsing my favorite used bookstore in Boca the other day (I say “my favorite,” but actually, I think it’s the only used bookstore in Boca. Nevertheless.) when I ran across four volumes in the Florida’s Fabulous… series. I pounced on them the way a tiger beetle pounces on other beetles, or a robber [...] [...]

The Diversity of Life

I’ve been reading Edward O. Wilson’s The Diversity of Life recently*, and was struck by some of his turns of phrase, and thought I’d share a couple of them with you. I’ve also been reading two of his three books co-authored with Bert Holldöbbler (Journey to the Ants and Superorganism), where the writing is much [...] [...]

More books

Berkeley’s best book store, Moe’s, is probably the best book store in the world. I’ve been to many a book store, in London, Los Angeles, Edinburgh, Chicago, Paris, Boston, New Delhi, Portland, and New York, and I still think Moe’s is the best. The Strand in Manhattan may be bigger, and Powell’s, in Portland and environs [...] [...]

The seabird syndrome

Tony Gaston’s Seabirds: A Natural History (Yale UP, 2004) is a book-length exploration of an idea that he calls the “seabird syndrome.” Based on the idea that feeding ecology in the marine environment is what drove the evolution of all seabirds, Gaston’s treatment ties together almost every aspect of seabird life that one can imagine. [...] [...]

Frog Concertos

Lang Elliott, author and coauthor of many fabulous compilations of nature sounds (the Stokes Field Guide to Bird Songs, Frogs and Toads of North America, Songs of Insects, and many more) has just (finally!) released his much-anticipated CD of Frog Concertos. No narration, nothing to get in the way of the sounds of these wonderful [...] [...]

Book Review: Paradise Found

Despite being a fairly committed environmentalist, I rarely have the patience to read through an entire book about any of the environmental problems facing our generation, let alone Eric‘s. They’re usually written by committed treehuggers, a group of people with whom I sympathize, but with whom I have very little in common. I love trees, [...] [...]

By way of review: Conniff’s Swimming with Piranhas

Entomology is, apparently, dangerous work. In the 1950s, apparently, an insect researcher (a human entomologist, not an insectoid scientist) by the name of Paul Hurd went to work in Point Barrow, Alaska with a faulty aspirator (that’s a sort of siphon operated by the researcher’s own mouth), which resulted some months later in “four major [...] [...]

Swimming with piranhas

Basically just an update to yesterday’s post. For technical reasons (technically: I’m a softhead), I didn’t link to the book that sparked the blog entry that sparked the post. I’ve got some reading to do over the weekend, and maybe then I’ll post an actual review. (Of course, I’ve been promising a review of Paradise [...] [...]

Why Herptiles? Some recent books…

If you’re like me, you might never have really wondered why the word herptile was invented. After all, “Reptiles and Amphibians” is easy enough to say. And besides, “reptiles” aren’t such a simple class, anyway: lots of reptiles have no business being included in the class Reptilia. Until recently, though, no one like me has [...] [...]