Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Birdbooker Report 110

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Books to the ceiling,
Books to the sky,
My piles 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.

The Birdbooker Report is a special weekly report of a wide variety of science, nature and behavior books that currently are, or soon will be available for purchase. This report is written by one of my Seattle birding pals and book collector, Ian “Birdbooker” Paulsen, and is edited by me and published here for your information and enjoyment. Below the fold is this week’s issue of The Birdbooker Report which lists ecology, environment, natural history and bird books that are (or will soon be) available for purchase.


FEATURED TITLE:

  1. Darwin, Charles. A Monograph of the Sub-class Cirripedia (Living and Extinct). 2009. New York University Press. Paperback: 4 volumes total. Price: about $25.00 U.S. each. [Amazon: $24.38].
    SUMMARY: Charles Darwin (1809-1882) is best known for his book: On The Origin of Species. But he wrote several books during his lifetime. New York University Press has reprinted his works in 29 volumes with these four volumes covering his barnacle research. The original artwork is included in these reprints.
    RECOMMENDATION: For those interested in the works of Charles Darwin or in barnacles.
  2. Merian, Maria Sibylla. Insects of Surinam. 2009. Taschen. Hardbound: 291 pages. Price: $39.99 U.S. [Amazon: $26.39].
    SUMMARY: Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717) was an artist and pioneering entomologist. Between 1699 and 1701, Merian visited Surinam to study the insects there. In 1705 her Insects of Surinam was published. Taschen has reprinted this work in full color with an introduction and plate commentaries by Katharina Schmidt-Loske. The text is in English, French and German.
    RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in early natural history art.
  3. Olsen, Gregg. A Twisted Faith: A Minister’s Obsession and the Murder That Destroyed a Church. 2010. St. Martin’s Press. Hardbound: 304 pages. Price: $25.99 U.S. [Amazon: $17.15].
    SUMMARY: Normally I don’t write about true crime stories, by this one hits close to home, literally! I can see the church in which events in this book took place from my front yard. Pastor Nick Hacheney of the Christ Community Church lost his wife Dawn in a house fire on 26 December 1997. Investigators at the time ruled her death an accident. What they didn’t know at the time was that Nick was seducing female congregants before and after his wife’s death. One of these women turned Judas and ended up turning Nick in for the murder of his wife. He was convicted of killing his wife, five years to the day after the crime.
    RECOMMENDATION: Anyone interested in true crime stories will like this one!
  4. Pizzey, Graham and Frank Knight. The Field Guide to the Birds of Australia (8th edition). 2007. Harper Collins. Flexi-binding: 580 pages. Price: $45.00 AU (about $41.54 U.S.). [Amazon: from $23.51].
    SUMMARY: This standard guide to the birds of Australia has been revised to include 46 new species. This edition was edited by Peter Menkhorst. The text and range maps face the color plates. The artwork by Frank Knight is very nice!
    RECOMMENDATION: The best bird field guide for Australia!

New and Recent Titles:

  1. Fleming, Theodore H. and Paul A. Racey (editors). Island Bats: Evolution, Ecology, and Conservation. 2010. University of Chicago Press. Hardbound: 549 pages. Price: $65.00 U.S. [Amazon: $46.80].
    SUMMARY: Island Bats is the first book to focus solely on the evolution, ecology, and conservation of bats living in the world’s island ecosystems. Among other topics, the contributors to this volume examine how the earth’s history has affected the evolution of island bats, investigate how bat populations are affected by volcanic eruptions and hurricanes, and explore the threat of extinction from human disturbance. Geographically diverse, the volume includes studies of the islands of the Caribbean, the Western Indian Ocean, Micronesia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and New Zealand.
    RECOMMENDATION: For those with a technical interest in bats and/or island biogeography.
  2. Milgrom, Melissa. Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy. 2010. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Hardbound: 285 pages. Price: $25.00 U.S. [Amazon: $15.00].
    SUMMARY: It’s easy to dismiss taxidermy as a kitschy or morbid sideline, the realm of trophy fish and jackalopes or an anachronistic throwback to the dusty diorama. Yet theirs is a world of intrepid hunter-explorers, eccentric naturalists, and gifted museum artisans, all devoted to the paradoxical pursuit of creating the illusion of life. Into this subculture of insanely passionate animal lovers ventures journalist Melissa Milgrom, whose journey stretches from the anachronistic family workshop of the last chief taxidermist for the American Museum of Natural History to the studio where an English sculptor, granddaughter of a surrealist artist, preserves the animals for Damien Hirst’s most disturbing artworks. She wanders through Mr. Potter’s Museum of Curiosities in the final days of its existence to watch dealers vie for preserved Victorian oddities, and visits the Smithsonian’s offsite lab, where taxidermists transform zoo skins into vivacious beasts. She tags along with a Canadian bear trapper and former Roy Orbison impersonator–the three-time World Taxidermy Champion–as he resurrects an extinct Irish elk using DNA studies and Paleolithic cave art for reference; she even ultimately picks up a scalpel and stuffs her own squirrel. Transformed from a curious onlooker to an empathetic participant, Milgrom takes us deep into the world of taxidermy and reveals its uncanny appeal.
    RECOMMENDATION: An interesting narrative on an unusual topic.
  3. Pepperell, Julian. Fishes of the Open Ocean: A Natural History and Illustrated Guide. 2010. University of Chicago Press. Hardbound: 266 pages. Price: $35.00 U.S. [Amazon: $25.20].
    SUMMARY: written by leading marine biologist and world authority on the subject Julian Pepperell, this is the first book to comprehensively describe these fishes and explore the complex and often fragile world in which they live. In what will be the definitive book on the subject for years to come–and, with over three hundred color images, the most lavishly produced as well–Pepperell details the environment and biology of every major species of fish that inhabits the open ocean, an expanse that covers 330 million cubic miles and is the largest aquatic habitat on the Earth.
    RECOMMENDATION: Anyone interested in marine fish will like this book!
  4. Raffles, Hugh. Insectopedia. 2010. Pantheon Books. Hardbound: 465 pages. Price: $29.95 U.S. [Amazon: $19.77].
    SUMMARY: Organizing his book alphabetically with one entry for each letter, weaving together brief vignettes, meditations, and extended essays, Hugh Raffles embarks on a mesmerizing exploration of history and science, anthropology and travel, economics, philosophy, and popular culture to show us how insects have triggered our obsessions, stirred our passions, and beguiled our imaginations.
    RECOMMENDATION: An interesting look at human/insect interactions.

You can read all the Birdbooker Reports in the archives on this site, and Ian now has his own website, The Birdbooker’s Bookcase, where you can read his synopses about newly published science, nature and animal books. But Ian assures me that he still loves us here, so he’ll still share his weekly Birdbooker Reports with us!

Comments

  1. #1 Tabor
    March 21, 2010

    What a wealth of knowledge here. I didn’t know Darwin was os prolific and thrilled to read of 46 new species in Australia and will probably order the marine fish book for Father’s Day!!