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review 2019-02-19 09:00
The Girl of the Sea of Cortez by Peter Benchley
The Girl of the Sea of Cortez: A Novel - Peter Benchley


"On an island in the Gulf of California, an intrepid young woman named Paloma carries a special legacy from her father—a deep understanding of the sea and a sixth sense about the need to protect it.

Every day, Paloma paddles her tiny boat into the ocean and anchors over a seamount—a submerged volcanic peak sixty feet underwater that is clustered with spectacular sea animals and a wondrous web of marine life.

It is there that an astonishing event takes place, when on one of her dives Paloma is shadowed by a manta ray—an animal so large it blocks the sun. She develops an extraordinary relationship with this luminous, gentle creature, but instinctively knows its existence is a secret she must fiercely protect.

Benchley’s novel paints a poignant picture of humanity’s precarious relationship with the ocean, which unfolds alongside a heartrending story of familial bonds, often revealing that the ignorance of man is far more dangerous than the sea. Full of beauty, danger, and adventure, The Girl of the Sea of Cortez is triumphant—a novel to fall in love with.



This is not a horror novel in the tradition of Jaws (also written by Benchley) - no blood, guts or corpses (except the fish). This is a lyrical and beautiful piece of writing.  Educational without preaching.  The novel is a rather plain story of Paloma, her love of the Sea, her desire to protect it and her relationship with her family - especially her brother who is more interested in the economic benefits to be gained from the sea regardless of how destructive they are to the local ecosystem.  The giant manta ray bits were delightful!  Benchley makes you feel like you are in the water with Paloma. The author also explores various conflicting themes such as gender roles, conservation, survival, human nature and the relationship between man and ocean life.  A lovely book, suitable for younger and older readers.


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review 2019-01-03 06:44
Still Waters by Curt Stager
Still Waters: The Secret World of Lakes - Curt Stager

TITLE:  Still Waters:  The Secret World of Lakes


AUTHOR:  Curt Stager




FORMAT:  Hardcover


ISBN-13:  9780393292169




More than a century and a half have passed since Walden was first published, and the world is now a very different place. Lakes are changing rapidly, not because we are separate from nature but because we are so much a part of it. While many of our effects on the natural world today are new, from climate change to nuclear fallout, our connections to it are ancient, as core samples from lake beds reveal. In Still Waters, Curt Stager introduces us to the secret worlds hidden beneath the surfaces of our most remarkable lakes, leading us on a journey from the pristine waters of the Adirondack Mountains to the wilds of Siberia, from Thoreau’s cherished pond to the Sea of Galilee.

Through decades of firsthand investigations, Stager examines the significance of our impacts on some of the world’s most iconic inland waters. Along the way he discovers the stories these lakes contain about us, including our loftiest philosophical ambitions and our deepest myths. For him, lakes are not only mirrors reflecting our place in the natural world but also windows into our history, culture, and the primal connections we share with all life.

Beautifully observed and eloquently written, Stager’s narrative is filled with strange and enchanting details about these submerged worlds—diving insects chirping underwater like crickets, African crater lakes that explode, and the growing threats to some of our most precious bodies of water. Modern science has demonstrated that humanity is an integral part of nature on this planet, so intertwined with it that we have also become an increasingly powerful force of nature in our own right. Still Waters reminds us how beautiful, complex, and vulnerable our lakes are, and how, more than ever, it is essential to protect them.



In "Still Waters:  The Secret World of Lakes", the world of lakes still remains a secret while the authors field trips to various lakes does not.  There were simply too many biographical anecdotes and too little information on lakes in general.  The author focuses on a handful of lakes to discuss various concepts in the most rudimentary manner.  The language is beautiful but I wanted to know more about lakes and less about Stager.



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review 2014-10-12 00:00
The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2013
The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2013 - Siddhartha Mukherjee,Tim Folger This is an interesting collection of science writing. It's not so much about science as it is about scientists. In the forward, the guest editor Mukherjee talks about tenderness, the quality so many scientists hold for their research subjects or data (his example is Mendel tending his plants). And so there is little science but much scientist in the essays. I guess I was hoping for more science, but it was an interesting collection in any case.

Some of the essays seemed more relevant than others. One was entirely about all the different drugs a neurologist had abused -- ummm, not all that interesting in my book. Another was about a trip a journalist took with a Ukranian shipping crew through the Arctic, proving the northern passages are open now. While the journey was made possible by global warming, there was no science and no scientist in the piece.

Okay, so those missed. Others were quite engaging. The two essays at the end, "The Measured Man" and "The Wisdom of Psychopaths" were very good. I especially liked the questions in the measured man: if we measure everything about ourselves and are swimming in data, does that make our lives better?

In any case, a collection worth reading that gives a sense of the people who do science.
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text SPOILER ALERT! 2014-02-28 00:38
Norton Book of Nature Writing - Robert Finch

If you like varying descriptions of wildlife you should like this book. It is a collection of essays arranged in chronological order starting in the eighteenth century and finishing with the late twentieth century. I noticed that as the book progresses the essays become less sentimental and more objective, but none of them are bereft of sentimentality. This is certainly not a collection of scientific studies. It is more of a collection of musings. Most of the essays concentrate on American wildlife, but there are some forays to other continents especially Africa.

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review 2013-03-05 00:00
The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2011 - Mary Roach,Tim Folger A very good mix of science articles. Glad I read it.
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