This list of fabulous science reads will keep you going strong on your New Year’s resolution to read (more) books this year
For those of you who are following along, this will be the penultimate collection of “best popular science books of 2016” that I will publish this year. (I’ll be more organized next year, I promise!) I am in the process of relocating to Norway with a flock of my own birds and, after numerous postponements, tomorrow is the day when we all fly. My last collection of books will appear as soon as I can locate (or arrange) wifi, so I hope you also keep your eyes open for that one!
This is my latest list of excellent popular science books that I especially enjoyed. This collection focuses on conservation and the environment and also includes natural history and nature writing.
Don’t let the title of this book deceive you into thinking this is a story about a 12-year-old superhero who fights evil using strange-looking lab glassware. This memoir shares the personal story of a geochemist and paleogeobiologist who studies plants at the University of Oslo. The chapters alternate between Dr. Jahren’s personal and professional lives – her struggles to obtain funding, dealing with academic sexism, cut-throat competition, and bipolar disorder, combined with amusing adventures with her eccentric best friend and lab partner, Bill, and stories that reveal how research really happens in the lab, along with fascinating insights into trees, root systems and soils, and really, all sorts of flora. If you’ve ever wondered what a scientist does all day, this book provides a fascinating glimpse. As a female scientist who also has bipolar disorder, this book resonated strongly with me, but really, this book is a must-read for everyone, whether they are interested in science or not, because it’s just so beautifully crafted.
Waitaminnit…trees communicate with each other? They help each other survive bad situations? Huh? When I first began reading this book, I was skeptical. But the author, German forester, Peter Wohlleben, has spent his life among the trees, most recently, managing a beech forest in the Eifel Mountains of southwestern Germany and eastern Belgium. In this book – a wildly popular best-seller in Germany and throughout much of the EU – Wohlleben illuminates the special underground social network that trees share, which he refers to as the “wood wide web,” and discusses the many threats to trees’ survival, the “character” of individual trees, and how critically important it is for people to simply “leave trees alone,” to allow forests to once again attain Old Growth status on their own. Although poorly cited, much of the information in this book comes straight from the research of Suzanne Simard, a professor of forest ecology at the University of British Columbia. You will either love or hate this book, but after you’ve finished reading it, your view of trees will have radically changed: I certainly don’t look at trees the same way.
Ever since I read Ravens in Winter and found myself shivering from Maine’s winter cold on a balmy August day, I’ve been madly in love with Bernd Heinrich, who now is Professor Emeritus of Biology at the University of Vermont. A careful thinker, quirky scientist and brilliant writer, Professor Heinrich has once again managed to capture the joys of closely watching the behaviors of individual wild birds. Each chapter focuses on his investigations of one life history trait of a particular avian species as it nests, raises its chicks, defends its territory, feeds and interacts with others of its kind. As always, I enjoyed reading about Professor Heinrich’s cleverly-designed experiments that provide unambiguous and sometimes surprising “answers” to a very specific question. This engaging, thought-provoking popular science memoir will inspire the reader to explore opportunities for conducting behavioral research with their own backyard birds – as I will do after I’ve relocated to my house in Norway!
This book starts with a “bang” – a murder to be exact – and the momentum just keeps going from there. The Dragon Behind the Glass is a gripping blend of investigative journalism, science, international crime, travelogue and history, as the author, Emily Voigt, an investigative journalist, invests almost 4 years into tracking down the rare and breathtakingly expensive Asian arowana, or “dragon fish.” As Voight pursues her goal to find a wild population of arowana, she travels from some of the world’s biggest cities and ventures deep into some of the last remaining tropical rainforests on Earth. Along the way, she reveals the hidden world of freshwater aquarium fishes; its origins and history, and why people are willing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for a fish. She also discusses endangered species, the role of CITES, the importance of habitat preservation and more. Unexpectedly, Voight finds herself as consumed with the arowana as any of the “Arofanatics” whom she writes about, and this book is as much about her own obsessive quest to see an arowana in the wild as it is about fish people and the fish itself. You don’t need to know anything about tropical fishes or fishkeeping to be totally riveted by this informative page-turner.
Continue via… Source: The 10 Best Conservation And Environment Books Of 2016