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review 2017-06-23 14:27
Unseen City: The Majesty of Pigeons, the Discreet Charm of Snails & Other Wonders of the Urban Wilderness by Nathanael Johnson
Unseen City: The Majesty of Pigeons, the Discreet Charm of Snails & Other Wonders of the Urban Wilderness - Nathanael Johnson

I enjoyed this book a great deal.  No matter where we live, there are wonders that we walk past every day. Unseen City widens our perspective by allowing us to view the world from the high-altitude eyes of a turkey vulture and the distinctly low-altitude eyes of a snail.  The blurb describes the book fairly accurately so there isn't much to write in that department.  However, all the additional little tidbits about city animals (pigeons, crows, squirrels, snails, ants, trees etc) was interesting and provides a new perspective on nature and our immediate environment.  The writing is beautiful and the personal anecdotes don't detract (they add) to the experience of the book.  

This isn't a popular science book as such, this is a get in touch with the world around you and see what is really there type of book.  While this book isn't meant for children, I think parents with young children could benefit from reading it and exploring the world (garden/suburb/city) with their children the way the author has with his daughter.  The author has also provided a useful bibliography so you can find more information on the specific topics he covers.

 

QUOTE:

"We tend to think of nature and civilization as being irreconcilably opposed:  Civilization's gain is nature's loss.  but in fact, cities have become prime habitat for speciation, hybridization, and in short, rebirth.  Certainly, civilization has upended the status quo in nature, but it is also proving to be a vehicle for a natural renaissance."

 

 

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review 2017-04-24 07:45
Science Matters: Achieving Scientific Literacy by Robert M. Hazen, James S. Trefil
Science Matters: Achieving Scientific Literacy - Robert M. Hazen,James Trefil

The authors state that the aim of this book is to provide the fundamental background knowledge that we need to cope with the complex scientific and technological world of today.  The aim of this book is to provide the information you need to become scientifically literate.  The book achieves this aim quite nicely, but I can't say the book is particularly exciting to read, especially if you have a science background.  This is perhaps something that should be read by someone who isn't too familiar with the different branches of science or someone who wishes to brush up on what they should have learned at school and might have forgotten.  This edition has been updated from the first addition.

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review 2017-02-17 06:25
Oxygen: The Molecule that Made the World by Nick Lane
Oxygen: The Molecule that Made the World (Popular Science) - Nick Lane

This is an extremely interesting and well written book about oxygen - how oxygen spurred the evolution of life, the functioning of oxygen in biological systems, aging, how oxygen relates to everyday life (besides breathing), amongst others. The nice thing about this book is that the author assumes his readers are intelligent and so doesn't simplify his writing or the concepts so much that it practically turns into gibberish.

 

NOTE:

The author's view of junk DNA is a bit dated - the book was published in 2002 and research on junk DNA has advanced since then. Some other information might also be dated, but that is simply how science and science writing work.  If you are intelligent enough to read this book, you should also be intelligent enough not to swallow everything you read - hook, line and sinker.

 

OTHER RELATED RECOMMENDED BOOKS:

* The Emerald Planet: How Plants Changed Earth's History by David Beerling

* Why We Get Sick: The New Science of Darwinian Medicine by Randolph M. Nesse, George C. Williams

* Under a Green Sky: Global Warming, the Mass Extinctions of the Past, and What They Can Tell Us About Our Future by Peter D. Ward

 

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review 2017-01-23 06:45
The Wasp that Brainwashed the Caterpillar by Matt Simon
The Wasp That Brainwashed the Caterpillar: Evolution's Most Unbelievable Solutions to Life's Biggest Problems - Matt Simon

An interesting and amusingly written book that highlights some of the strange survival mechanisms that animals have evolved.  There is nothing technical in this book.  Each chapter takes a look at a specific animal. 

For a more in-depth look at some of these survival mechanisms, I recommend the book "Venomous" by Christie Wilcox.

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review 2017-01-11 08:41
The Lion in the Living Room: How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World by Abigail Tucker
The Lion in the Living Room: How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World - Abigail Tucker

The house cats makes its home everywhere. In this rather entertaining book, Abigail Tucker takes a look at how the house cat became one of the most dominant carnivores on the planet, and what the relationship is between cats and humans. This book is rather light on the science, but it was still interesting.

 

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