Birdbooker Report 318

29 April 2014 by GrrlScientist, posted in Birdbooker Report

SUMMARY: Books, books, beautiful books! This is a list of biology, ecology, environment, natural history and animal books that are (or will soon be) available to occupy your bookshelves and your thoughts.


“Words in leather and wood”. Bookshelves in the “Long Room” at the old Trinity College Library in Dublin.
Image: Nic McPhee from Morris, MN, USA. 2007. (Creative Commons.)

Books to the ceiling,
Books to the sky,
My pile of books is a mile high.
How I love them! How I need them!
I'll have a long beard by the time I read them.

~ Arnold Lobel [1933-1987] author of many popular children's books.

Compiled by Ian "Birdbooker" Paulsen, the Birdbooker Report is a weekly report that has been published online for years, listing the wide variety of nature, natural history, ecology, animal behaviour, science and history books that have been newly released or republished in North America and in the UK. The books listed here were received by Ian during the previous week, courtesy of various publishing houses.

New and Recent Titles:

  1. Helfman, Gene and George H. Burgess. Sharks: The Animal Answer Guide. 2014. Johns Hopkins University Press. Paperback: 249 pages. Price: $26.95 U.S. [Amazon UK; Amazon US].
    PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Answering every conceivable question about sharks, authors Gene Helfman and George H. Burgess describe the fascinating biology, behavior, diversity (there are more than 1,000 species worldwide), and cultural importance of sharks, their close relationship to skates and rays, and their critical role in healthy ecosystems.
    Helfman and Burgess take readers on a round-the-world tour of shark habitats, which include oceans as well as lakes and even rivers (as far up the Mississippi as St. Louis). They describe huge, ferocious predators like (Great) White and Tiger sharks and species such as Basking and Whale sharks that feed on microscopic prey yet can grow to lengths of more than 40 feet. The mysterious and powerful Greenland shark, the authors explain, reaches a weight of 2,200 pounds on a diet of seal flesh. Small (less than 2-foot long) Cookiecutter sharks attack other sharks and even take a chunk out of the occasional swimmer.
    Despite our natural fascination with sharks, we have become their worst enemy. Many shark species are in serious decline and a number are threatened with extinction as a result of overfishing and persecution. Sharks: The Animal Answer Guide presents a perfect mix of current science, history, anthropology, intriguing facts, and gripping photographs. Whether your fascination with sharks stems from fear or curiosity, your knowledge of these animals will improve immensely when you consult this book.
    IAN'S RECOMMENDATION: A good general overview on the subject.
  2. Page, Jeremy. The Collector of Lost Things: A Novel. 2013. Pegasus Books. Hardbound: 373 pages. Price: $ 25.95 U.S. [Amazon UK/audio CD, UK; Amazon US/kindle US/MP3 CD, US].
    PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: The year is 1845 and young researcher Eliot Saxby is paid to go on an expedition to the Arctic in the hope of finding remains of the by-now-extinct Great Auk, a large flightless bird of mythical status.
    Eliot joins a hunting ship, but the crew and the passengers are not what they seem. Caught in the web of relationships on board, Eliot struggles to understand the motivations of the sociopathic Captain Sykes; the silent First Mate, French; the flamboyant laudanum-addicted Bletchley; and most importantly of all, Bletchley's beautiful but strange 'cousin' Clara.
    As the ship moves further and further into the wilds of the Arctic Sea, Eliot clings to what he believes in, desperate to save Clara but irrevocably drawn back into a past that haunts him -- and a present that confronts him with a myriad of dangers.
    IAN'S RECOMMENDATION: Birders might enjoy the Great Auk subplot.
  3. Youth, Howard. Field Guide to the Natural World of Washington, D.C. 2014. Johns Hopkins University Press. Paperback: 393 pages. Price: $24.95 U.S. [Amazon UK; Amazon US].
    PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Nature awaits discovery at almost every turn in the complex ecosystem of Washington, D.C. In parks large and small, within the District's gardens, and on public streets, there is tremendous biodiversity. In Field Guide to the Natural World of Washington, D.C., naturalist Howard Youth takes us on an urban safari, describing the wild side of the nation's capital.
    Beyond the abundant wildlife that can be seen in every neighborhood, Washington boasts a large park network rich in natural wonders. A hike along the trails of Rock Creek Park, one of the country’s largest and oldest urban forests, quickly reveals white-tailed deer, eastern gray squirrels, and little brown bats. Mayapples, Virginia bluebells, and red mulberry trees are but a few of the treasures found growing at the National Arboretum. A stroll along the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers might reveal stealthy denizens such as bullfrogs, largemouth bass, and common snapping turtles. Detailed drawings by Carnegie artist Mark A. Klingler and photography by Robert E. Mumford, Jr., reveal the rich color and stunning beauty of the flora and fauna awaiting every D.C. naturalist.
    Whether seeking a secluded jog or an adventurous outing, residents and tourists alike will find this handsome guide indispensable for finding oases away from the noise of the city.
    IAN'S RECOMMENDATION: A good general introduction to the natural history of the region.

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This is a guest piece written by Ian "Birdbooker" Paulsen. Ian is an avid book collector who is especially well-known to the publishing world. He collects newly-published books about nature, animals and birds, science, and history, and he also collects children's books on these topics. Ian writes brief synopses about these books on his website, The Birdbooker Report.

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