February 24, 2008

Quammen, David. Natural acts: A sidelong view of science and nature. New York: Avon, 1985. 221pp.

Just so you all know I don't just read the brightest, shiniest, newest books. I also read some old classics too. And classic is just how I would describe this charming, wonderful book by well-known science writer David Quammen.

This is a collection of essays that mostly appeared in Outside Magazine and they fall squarely in the realm of nature writing. They're mostly short and to the point, a little on the sentimental side sometimes. Sometimes very pointed in their environmentalism, notable these days that environmentalists were active as far back as 1985, that it didn't start with Al Gore. Some of the creatures profiled are bats and cockroaches, the octopus and the crow, bison and grayling. Nice profile of paleontologist Jack Horner and Tycho Brahe. Fishing and swimming and traveling, all the things that make up good nature writing.

This is a great book to slowly meander through, either as a bedside book or an essay here and there riding on the bus to work (as it was for me). A good addition to the collection for any public library or for any academic science library that maintains a leisure reading collection.

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