Birdbooker Report 336

2 September 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. Ackerman, Diane. The Human Age: The World Shaped By Us. 2014. W.W. Norton. Hardbound: 344 pages. Price: $27.95 U.S. [Amazon UK; Amazon US/kindle US].
    PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: As Diane Ackerman writes in her brilliant new book, The Human Age, "our relationship with nature has changed…radically, irreversibly, but by no means all for the bad. Our new epoch is laced with invention. Our mistakes are legion, but our talent is immeasurable."
    Ackerman is justly celebrated for her unique insight into the natural world and our place in it. In this landmark book, she confronts the unprecedented reality that one prodigiously intelligent and meddlesome creature, Homo sapiens, is now the dominant force shaping the future of planet Earth.
    Humans have "subdued 75 percent of the land surface, concocted a wizardry of industrial and medical marvels, strung lights all across the darkness." We tinker with nature at every opportunity; we garden the planet with our preferred species of plants and animals, many of them invasive; and we have even altered the climate, threatening our own extinction. Yet we reckon with our own destructive capabilities in extraordinary acts of hope-filled creativity: we collect the DNA of vanishing species in a "frozen ark," equip orangutans with iPads, and create wearable technologies and synthetic species that might one day outsmart us. With her distinctive gift for making scientific discovery intelligible to the layperson, Ackerman takes us on an exhilarating journey through our new reality, introducing us to many of the people and ideas now creating—perhaps saving—our future and that of our fellow creatures.
    A beguiling, optimistic engagement with the changes affecting every part of our lives, The Human Age is a wise and beautiful book that will astound, delight, and inform intelligent life for a long time to come.
    IAN'S RECOMMENDATION: Fans of Ackerman's other books should enjoy this one!
  2. Kohn, Alan J. Conus of the Southeastern United States and Caribbean. 2014. Princeton University Press. Hardbound: 457 pages. Price: $99.50 U.S. [Amazon UK; Amazon US/kindle US].
    PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Conus is the largest genus of animals in the sea, occurring throughout the world’s tropical and subtropical oceans and contributing significantly to marine biodiversity. The shells of these marine mollusks are prized for their amazing variety and extraordinary beauty. The neurotoxic venoms they produce—injected by a hollow, harpoon-like tooth into prey animals that are then paralyzed and swallowed whole—have a range of pharmaceutical applications, from painkillers to antidepressants. This beautifully illustrated book identifies 53 valid species of the southeastern United States and the Caribbean, a region that supports a diverse but taxonomically challenging group of Conus. Introductory chapters cover the evolution and phylogeny of the genus, and notes on methodology are provided. Detailed species accounts describe key identification features, taxonomy, distribution, ecology, toxicology, life history, and evolutionary relationships. The book includes more than 2,100 photos of shells on 109 splendid color plates; more than 100 additional photos, many depicting live animals in color; and 35 color distribution maps.
    IAN'S RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with a serious interest in these species.
  3. Wilson-Rich, Noah. The Bee: A Natural History. 2014. Princeton University Press. Hardbound: 224 pages. Price: $27.95 U.S. [Amazon UK; Amazon US].
    PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Bees pollinate more than 130 fruit, vegetable, and seed crops that we rely on to survive. Bees are crucial to the reproduction and diversity of flowering plants, and the economic contributions of these irreplaceable insects measure in the tens of billions of dollars each year. Yet bees are dying at an alarming rate, threatening food supplies and ecosystems around the world. In this richly illustrated natural history of the bee, Noah Wilson-Rich and his team of bee experts provide a window into the vitally important role that bees play in the life of our planet.
    Earth is home to more than 20,000 bee species, from fluorescent-colored orchid bees and sweat bees to flower-nesting squash bees and leaf-cutter bees. This book takes an incomparable look at this astounding diversity, blending an engaging narrative with practical, hands-on discussions of such topics as beekeeping and bee health. It explores our relationship with the bee over evolutionary time, delving into how it came to be, where it stands today, and what the future holds for humanity and bees alike.
    IAN'S RECOMMENDATION: A well-illustrated introduction to the biology of bees.

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This guest piece was written by Ian "Birdbooker" Paulsen and formatted by GrrlScientist. 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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