Featured Book Review
Consider the following story:
A young man, born and raised in the backcountry of Northeast Oregon, one day decides to leave his family and set out on foot in search of adventure. Over a period of months that stretches into years, he crosses the entire state, eventually crossing from Oregon into Northeast California. Roaming the forests in the shadow of Mt. Shasta on his own for quite some time, he eventually meets a mysterious dark-haired woman. They fall quickly in love and eventually start a family.
Meanwhile back in Oregon, the young man’s aging mother dies. His old father remarries a physically disabled woman and the two eventually have two children of their own. However one day the father and his new family are accused of a crime for which the evidence is only circumstantial. Without any trial, the father, his wife, and their two children are pursued by the authorities, and eventually shot and killed in cold blood. Keep reading…
Recent Book Reviews
“I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues.”
Thus said the Lorax, making his own introduction to the rapacious Once-ler in the classic 1971 book named for its title character by Theodor Seuss Geisel – Dr. Seuss. It’s a book I suspect most readers of The Well-read Naturalist have read. Indeed, I suspect it’s the most widely read book on the subject of the importance of conservation ever published. Its message is simple, direct, and remarkably memorable – and so effectively presented that ever since its publication various groups, commonly those with ties to various extractive industries or assorted apologists for such, fearing its power to evoke action in its readers have sought to have it removed from libraries and classrooms across the United States. Keep reading…
The feeling was really more of being struck the being stung. Standing on the hillside behind our Oregon home, I must have been 15 or 16 years old. I was performing some chore my father has set me to – clearing weeds most likely as I was using hoe when the incident occurred. I remember standing up from a stoop with the hoe in my left hand when suddenly something struck the back of my right with a perceived force that I swear knocked it backwards. My first thought was that I had been shot (we lived in the country) but looking down and seeing no blood, I was perplexed. It was only when the burning sensation and swelling began that it dawned on me that I had been stung. Keep reading…
Mark on Sundays
This week, Mark looks back on a number of the books he’s reviewed over the past year that in one way or another have Hen Harriers or grouse shooting as at least part of their subject. Beginning with Gill Lewis’ Sky Dancer from Oxford University Press (a book with which seems particularly impressed), he moves through some others you might have already read as well as others of which you might not yet even have heard. Pop over to his blog to see the entire list, titled “Some Books,” with links to the individual review for each.
Newly Noted Books
I’ll be honest, having read Dr. Eleanor Spicer Rice’s four books about ants and found them to be absolutely brilliant, I may have actually squealed (in a manly, dignified way, of course) with glee upon learning of the publication by University of Chicago Press of her new “Dr. Eleanor’s Book of Common Spiders.”
For as long as I can remember, most every bit of American history I’ve ever read has in one way or another led back to the Chesapeake Bay. Which makes it rather unfortunate that, like many life-long westerners, I’ve never once set eyes upon it.
The first books of natural history I can recall reading were David Quammen’s “Natural Acts” and Bernd Heinrich’s “Ravens in Winter.” While I know I had read others before, these two stick in my mind due to the power each of them had to demand that I look more deeply at the world around me and ask not just “what” but “why?”
Recounting the story of the life and work of the late Peter M. Douglas, long-serving chairman of the California Coastal Commission, and indefatigable advocate for the preservation of and open access to the magnificent coastline of the U.S. state of California, this new book will – it is hoped – bring greater attention to one of those most responsible for making it still possible for us all continue to be able to enjoy a visit to some of the worlds most remarkable coastal areas.
The public perception – due in no small part to the success of the film “Blackfish” – of keeping cetaceans, particularly Orcas, in captivity has taken a decidedly downward turn from the family-friendly spectacle it once was. But where did all this fascination with keeping these enormous marine mammals in captivity first begin, and how did the general public become so enamored of them in the first place?
For all those who have liked Richard Crossley’s unconventional approach to presenting his subjects in his three previous guides about the birds of eastern North America, of Britain and Ireland, and raptors respectively, it is entirely reasonable to assume that his most recently published fourth guide – The Crossley ID: Waterfowl – will also be received with similar appreciation and enthusiasm.
As those who follow The Well-read Naturalist’s Twitter or Instagram feeds will likely already know, I make a regular habit of reading from the collected essays in Melissa Harrison’s Seasons quartet of anthologies from Elliott & Thompson. However what most likely don’t know is just how regular this habit is, or why I do it. It’s easy enough to assume that I find the essays, poems, and diary extracts enjoyable and inspiring; Ms. Harrison’s exquisite editorial taste assures that nothing less would have been included. However even more than these collections being superb assemblies of writings about nature, in then I have found something more than I originally expected that has been of deep and lasting value to me, for which I am deeply grateful to all those whose works are included as well as to their remarkable editor, that perhaps may well be of similar help to others, hence I take somewhat of a personal risk by explaining it here. Keep reading…
The Well-equipped Naturalist
For as long as I’ve ventured afield in search of whatever nature might wish to show me, I’ve gone fully vested. That is to say, I’ve worn a field vest. Not that I have anything against day packs or shoulder bags, mind you; I just find that vests (or as my British friends call them, waistcoats) allow me to carry what I need in a way that allows me easy access to all of it while still letting me move about with a feeling of being unencumbered.
On the day this article is published, it will be exactly one month until the day of the 2017 North American Solar Eclipse; an event that is expected to cause tens of millions of people to stop what they are doing and turn their eyes (properly protected, it is hoped) skyward to witness one of […]
What with all the recent discussions of, disputes over, and governmental decisions regarding, American wild areas being on the front pages of newspapers across the nation, the scholars who produce the BackStory podcast recently aired a rebroadcast of their deeply thought-provoking episode “Untrammeled; Americans and the Wilderness.”