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Tuesday Readers Book Group ~ We always welcome new participants!
2023 Schedule (subject to change):
Registration information and more at this link
Meetings begin at 6:30 pm
May 11, 2023
Rawlence, Ben. The Treeline: The Last Forest and the Future of Life on Earth.
2022. 289 pages (294 with bibliography)
For the last fifty years, the trees of the boreal forest have been moving north. Rawlence takes us along this critical frontier of our warming planet from Norway to Siberia, Alaska to Greenland, Canada to Sweden to meet the scientists, residents and trees confronting huge geological changes. Only the hardest species survive at these latitudes including the ice- loving Dahurian larch of Siberia, the antiseptic Spruce that purifies our atmosphere, the Downy birch conquering Scandinavia, the healing Balsam poplar that Native Americans use as a cure-all and the noble Scots Pine that lives longer when surrounded by its family. Blending reportage with the latest science, The Treeline is a story of what might soon be the last forest left and what that means for the future of all life on earth.
June 8, 2023
Slaght, Jonathan. The Owls of the Eastern Ice: a Quest to Find and Save the World's Largest Owl
2021. 315 pages. (331 with bibliography)
When he was a fledgling birdwatcher, Slaght had an encounter with one of the most mysterious birds. Bigger than any owl he knew, it looked like a small bear with decorative feathers. Soon he was on a five-year journey, searching for this creature in the remote forests of eastern Russia. Despite a wingspan of six feet and a height of over two feet, the Blakiston’s fish owl is highly elusive. They are easiest to find in winter, when their tracks mark the snowy banks of the rivers where they feed. They are also endangered. Slaght and his team set out to locate the owls, they aim to craft a conservation plan that helps ensure the species’ survival. At the heart of the story are the fish owls: cunning hunters, devoted parents, singers of eerie duets, and survivors in a harsh and shrinking habitat.
April 13, 2023
Tree, Isabella. Wilding: Returning a Farm to Nature
2018. 362 pages.
Let land lie fallow, and things begin to happen. Let 3,500 acres lie fallow, and the world is remade. The lands around Knepp Castle, in the English district of West Sussex, have been farmed intensively for centuries, and the estate was exhausted and was losing money. Three decades ago, Tree came to the land with a pronounced fondness for mycorrhizae—the invisible, microbial life that teems in healthy soil, fed by decaying plant life, sheltered by tree snags, and the like—and a commitment to do something about the declining populations of species such as the turtledove, whose numbers are almost vertical thanks to the wholesale industrial remaking of the British countryside. Tree describes the long, laborious process of turning back time, abandoning deep plowing and mass production in the effort to allow the land to regain some of its former health. As she writes, just one sign is the sixty-two species of bee and thirty species of wasp that now buzz around locally as well as 76 species of moths and battalions of birds, including herons that deserted their tree-top roosts in the heronry and were nesting a few feet above the water. Tree describes a success that she began to chart nearly two decades ago but that has been flourishing since: The land, released from its cycle of drudgery, seemed to be breathing a sigh of relief.
March 9, 2023
Hodgkins, John. Boiling Off: Maple Sugaring in Maine
2020. 215 pages.
In 1964 three cousins tapped three thousand sugar maples deep in the Maine woods. They called themselves Jackson Mountain Maple Farm. Boiling Off is the story of making Maine maple syrup commercially in Temple, Maine, for fifty-some years, and how a thirty-year technology revolution beginning in the 1980s changed the face of Maine sugaring forever. Woven into the story of Jackson Mountain Maple Farm is the history of Maine sugaring beginning in Farmington in 1781, when Stephen Titcomb boiled off the first official pure Maine maple syrup in a cast iron kettle. Boiling Off tracks the evolution of sugaring technology from Titcomb’s kettle to reverse osmosis and heat exchangers; follows sap gathering techniques from buckets and oxen-drawn drays to plastic tubing and vacuum pumps; and records production in Maine from 8,000 gallons of maple syrup in 1985 to 709,000 gallons in 2017. The story describes the subtleties of syrup flavor, how it is properly graded, and the art of making award-winning maple syrup.
February 9, 2023
Stotts, Rodney and Pipkin, Kate. Bird Brother: A Falconer's Journey and the Healing Power of Wildlife
2022. 211 pages.
To escape the streets of Southeast Washington, D.C. in the late 1980s, young Stotts would ride the metro to the National Zoo. There, the bald eagles and other birds of prey captured his imagination. Rodney shares his journey to becoming a conservationist and one of America’s few Black master falconers. He took a position in 1992 with a new nonprofit, the Earth Conservation Corps. Gradually, Rodney fell in love with the work to restore and conserve the polluted Anacostia River. As conditions along the river improved, he helped to reintroduce bald eagles to the region and befriended an injured Eurasian Eagle Owl named Mr. Hoots, the first of many birds whose respect he would work hard to earn. He began to train to become a master falconer and to develop his own raptor education program and sanctuary.
September 8, 2022
Vietze, Andrew. White Pine: American History and the Tree That Made a Nation
2018. 164 pages.
The history of the ubiquitous pine tree is wrapped up with the history of early America-and in the hands of a gifted storyteller becomes a compelling read, almost an adventure story. In Vietze’s telling, eastern white pine is the Forrest Gump of tree species – present at and involved in all sorts of important historical happenings, beginning long before Europeans arrived to marvel at what looked to them like an endless supply of ship masts growing tall above the other trees they saw. Native American tradition holds that when the Five Nations found themselves at war and looking for peace, they gathered beneath a towering white pine, its branches providing shelter and its clusters of five needles a symbol of unity.
October 13, 2022
Patlak, Margie. More Than Meets the Eye: Exploring Nature and Loss on the Coast of Maine
2021. 209 pages.
For award-winning science writer Margie Patlak, exploring the unique nature of the Maine coast opens a door to deeper ties and insights. Watching a striped monarch caterpillar transform into a chartreuse pendant dabbed with gold, she realizes the limits of life and what is passed between generations. Tides show how fleeting time is, and clouds and weather reveal greater forces that take away all illusions of control. She also explores the continental collisions that thrust up and fractured Maine’s mountains; digs into the latest scientific thinking on how animals navigate; and exults in the dizzy dance of plankton under the microscope. Even moose, fox, and fishers reveal more than meets the eye. These facets of the natural world speak a hidden language Patlak translates with her scientific knowledge and reflection.
November 10, 2022
Vassnes, Bjorn. Translated by Lucy Moffatt. Kingdom of Frost: How the Cryosphere Shapes Life on Earth
2020. 236 pages.
The Kingdom of Frost, or what scientists call the cryosphere, refers to all of Earth’s frozen waters. Glaciers, ice caps, and fields of Arctic snow—the cryosphere is vital to our survival. It supplies us with water and helps cool cities from Bangladesh to Bangkok, Los Angeles to Oslo. In this captivating, eye-opening account, esteemed Norwegian writer Bjørn Vassnes interweaves brilliant climate reporting with the fascinating story of Earth’s frozen world. He draws on cultural history and anthropology to tell us how the cryosphere once helped to spark life on Earth—and how it continues to sustain us despite its shrinking size.
April 14, 2022
Weidensaul, Scott. A World on the Wing: The Global Odyssey of Migratory Birds. 2021. 400 pages.
An exhilarating exploration of the science and wonder of global bird migration. In the past two decades, our understanding of the navigational and physiological feats that enable birds to cross immense oceans, fly above the highest mountains, or remain in unbroken flight for months at a stretch has exploded. What we’ve learned of these key migrations―how billions of birds circumnavigate the globe, flying tens of thousands of miles between hemispheres on an annual basis―is nothing short of extraordinary.
May 12, 2022
Fortey, Richard. Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms; the Story of the Animals and Plants That Time Has Left Behind. 2012. 384 pages.
A fascinating chronicle of life’s history told through the stories of organisms that have survived, almost unchanged, throughout time. Scattered across the globe, these remarkable plants and animals continue to mark seminal events in geological time. From a moonlit beach in Delaware, where the hardy horseshoe crab shuffles its way to a frenzy of mass mating just as it did 450 million years ago, to the dense rainforests of New Zealand, where the elusive, unprepossessing velvet worm has burrowed deep into rotting timber since before the breakup of the ancient supercontinent, to a stretch of Australian coastline with stromatolite formations that bear witness to the Precambrian dawn, the existence of these survivors offers us a tantalizing glimpse of pivotal points in evolutionary history. These are not “living fossils” but rather a handful of tenacious creatures of days long gone.
June 9, 2022
Melillo, Edward. The Butterfly Effect: Insects and the Making of the Modern World. 2020. 272 pages
Insects are responsible for many of the things we take for granted in our daily lives. When we bite into a apple, listen to the resonant notes of a violin, get dressed, receive a dental implant, or get a manicure, we are the beneficiaries of a vast army of insects. Try as we might to replicate their raw material, our artificial substitutes have proven subpar at best, and at worst toxic, ensuring our interdependence with the insect world for the foreseeable future
February 10, 2022
Kaku, Michio. The God Equation: The Quest for a Theory of Everything 2021. 240 pages.
When Newton discovered the law of gravity, he unified the rules governing the heavens and the Earth. Since then, physicists have been placing new forces into ever-grander theories. But perhaps the ultimate challenge is achieving a monumental synthesis of the two remaining theories—relativity and the quantum theory. This would be the crowning achievement of science, a profound merging of all the forces of nature into one beautiful, magnificent equation to unlock the deepest mysteries in science: What happened before the Big Bang? What lies on the other side of a black hole? Are there other universes and dimensions? Is time travel possible? Why are we here? Kaku also explains the intense controversy swirling around this theory, with Nobel laureates taking opposite sides on this vital question. It is a captivating, gripping story; what’s at stake is nothing less than our conception of the universe.
March 10, 2022
Schmitt, Catherine. The President's Salmon: Restoring the King of Fish and its Home Waters. 2015. 240 pages.
The salmon is said to be as old as time and to know all the past and future. Twenty-two thousand years ago, someone carved a life-sized image of Atlantic salmon in the floor of a cave in southern France. Salmon were painted on rocks in Norway and Sweden. The salmon's effortless leaping and ability to survive in both river and sea led the Celts to mythologize the salmon as holder of all mysterious knowledge, gained by consuming the nine hazelnuts of wisdom that fell into the Well of Segais. For 80 years, salmon anglers on Maine's Penobscot River presented the first salmon caught each year to the President of the United States. This tradition forms the framework of The President's Salmon, presenting a rich cultural and natural history of the Atlantic salmon and the Penobscot River, the last bastion for the salmon in America and the best hope for the preservation of this endangered species.
November 11, 2021
Sheldrake, Merlin. Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures. 2021. 368 pages
When we think of fungi, we likely think of mushrooms. But mushrooms are only fruiting bodies, analogous to apples on a tree. Most fungi live out of sight, yet make up a massively diverse kingdom of organisms that supports and sustains nearly all living systems. Fungi provide a key to understanding the planet on which we live, and the ways we think, feel, and behave. Sheldrake’s vivid exploration takes us from yeast to psychedelics, to the fungi that range for miles underground and are the largest organisms on the planet, to those that link plants together in complex networks known as the “Wood Wide Web,” to those that infiltrate and manipulate insect bodies with devastating precision. Fungi throw our concepts of individuality and even intelligence into question. They are metabolic masters, earth makers, and key players in most of life’s processes. They can change our minds, heal our bodies, and even help us remediate environmental disaster.
June 10, 2021
Lightman, Alan. Searching for stars on an island in Maine . 2018. 240 pages.
A lyrical meditation on religion and science that explores the tension between our yearning for permanence and certainty and the modern scientific discoveries that demonstrate the impermanent and uncertain nature of the world. As a physicist, Lightman has always held a scientific view of the world, he was impressed by the logic and materiality of a universe governed by a small number of disembodied forces and laws that decree all things in the world are material and impermanent. But one summer evening, while looking at the stars from a small boat at sea, Lightman was overcome by the overwhelming sensation that he was merging with something larger than himself. This book is his exploration of these seemingly contradictory impulses. He draws on sources ranging from Saint Augustine’s conception of absolute truth to Einstein’s theory of relativity, from the unity of the once-indivisible atom to the multiplicity of subatomic particles and the recent notion of multiple universes. What he gives us is a profound inquiry into the human desire for truth and meaning, and a journey along the different paths of religion and science that become part of that quest.
May 13, 2021
Goulson, Dave. A buzz in the meadow: a natural history of a French farm. 2015. 288 pages.
Goulson returns to tell the tale of how he bought a derelict farm in the heart of rural France. Over the course of a decade, on thirty-three acres of meadow, he created a place for his beloved bumblebees to thrive. But other creatures live there too, myriad insects of every kind, many of which Goulson had studied before in his career as a biologist. You’ll learn how a deathwatch beetle finds its mate, why butterflies have spots on their wings, and see how a real scientist actually conducts his experiments. But this book is also a wake-up call, urging us to cherish and protect life in all its forms. Goulson has that rare ability to persuade you to go out into your garden or local park and observe the natural world. The undiscovered glory that is life in all its forms is there to be discovered. And if we learn to value what we have, perhaps we will find a way to keep it.
April 8, 2021
Margonelli, Lisa. Underbug: An Obsessive Tale of Termites and Technology. 2018. 320 pages.
In Underbug Margonelli introduces us to the enigmatic creatures that collectively outweigh human beings ten to one and consume $40 billion worth of valuable stuff annually—and yet, in Margonelli’s telling, seem weirdly familiar. Over the course of a decade-long obsession with the little bugs, Margonelli pokes around termite mounds and high-tech research facilities, closely watching biologists, roboticists, and geneticists. Her journey veers into uncharted territory, from evolutionary theory to Edwardian science literature to the military industrial complex. What begins as a natural history of the termite becomes a personal exploration of the unnatural future we’re building, with darker observations on power, technology, historical trauma, and the limits of human cognition. Margonelli turns up astounding facts and raises provocative questions. Is a termite an individual or a unit of a superorganism? Can we harness the termite’s properties to change the world? If we build termite-like swarming robots, will they inevitably destroy us? Is it possible to think without having a mind?
March 11, 2021
Juniper, Tony. Spix’s Macaw: The Race to Save the World’s Rarest Bird. 2003. 273 pages.
Blue is a rare color for land animals, and people have placed great value on blue animals since the earliest times. There are four blue species of the macaw, largest of parrots: one is probably extinct, one is extinct in the wild, and two are endangered. Juniper writes about the second species, the Spix’s macaw. This species was reduced to as few as 24 individuals living in captivity. The quest to save the powder-blue parrot is revealed in the author’s passionate tale of smuggling, politics, science. Probably always rare in their natural habitat, and fetching up to $40,000 on the black market, these birds have invariably been desirable by virtue of their scarcity. Exploring what little is known of the natural history of Spix’s macaw, the history of its discovery and attempts to keep it in captivity, and the machinations of the international effort to breed the few remaining birds, Juniper keeps the reader riveted.
February 11, 2021
McIntyre, Rick. The Rise of Wolf 8: Witnessing the Triumph of Yellowstone’s Underdog. 2019. 304 pages.
Yellowstone National Park was once home to an abundance of wild wolves—but park rangers killed the last in the 1920s. Decades later, the rangers brought them back, with the first wolves arriving from Canada in 1995. This is the story of one of those wolves. Wolf 8 struggles at first, he is smaller than the other pups, and often bullied, but soon he bonds with an alpha female whose mate was shot. An unusually young alpha male, barely a teenager in human years, Wolf 8 rises to the occasion, hunting skillfully, and even defending his family from the wolf who killed his father. But soon he faces a new opponent: his adopted son, who mates with a violent alpha female. Can Wolf 8 protect his valley without harming his protégé?
September 10, 2020
Williams, Terry Tempest. Erosion: Essays of Undoing. 2019. 336 pages.
Williams’s fierce, spirited, and magnificent essays are a howl in the desert. She sizes up the continuing assaults on America’s public lands and the erosion of our commitment to the open space of democracy. She asks: "How do we find the strength to not look away from all that is breaking our hearts?" Williams explores the many forms of erosion we face: of democracy, science, compassion, and trust. She examines the dire cultural and environmental implications of the gutting of Bear Ears National Monument―sacred lands to Native Peoples of the American Southwest; of the undermining of the Endangered Species Act; of the relentless press by the fossil fuel industry that has led to a panorama in which "oil rigs light up the horizon." And she testifies that the climate crisis is not an abstraction, offering as evidence the drought outside her door and, at times, within herself.
October 8, 2020
Heinrich, Berndt. White feathers, the nesting lives of tree swallows. 2020. 218 pages
Heinrich is sparked one early spring day by a question: Why does a pair of swallows in a nest-box close to his Maine cabin show an unvarying preference for white feathers—not easily available nearby—as nest lining? He notices, too, the extreme aggressiveness of “his” swallows toward some other swallows of their own kind. And he wonders, given swallows’ reputation for feistiness, at the extraordinary tameness and close contact he experiences with his nesting birds.
November 12, 2020
Gaudet, John. Papyrus: The Plant that Changed the World: From Ancient Egypt to Today’s Water Wars. 2014. 271 pages.
From ancient Pharaohs to 21st Century water wars, papyrus is a unique plant that is now the fastest growing plant species on earth. It produces its own “soil”—a peaty, matrix that floats on water—and inspired the fluted columns of the ancient Greeks. In ancient Egypt, the papyrus bounty from the Nile delta provided not just paper for record keeping—instrumental to the development of civilization—but food, fuel and boats. Disastrous weather in the 6th Century caused famines and plagues that almost wiped out civilization in the west, but it was papyrus to the rescue. Today, it is not just a curious relic of our ancient past, but a rescuing force for modern ecological and societal blight. In an ironic twist, Egypt is faced with enormous pollution loads that forces them to import food supplies, and yet papyrus is one of the most effective and efficient natural pollution filters known to man. Papyrus was the key in stemming the devastation to the Sea of Galilee and Jordan River from raging peat fires, and the papyrus laden shores of Lake Victoria—which provides water to more than 30 million people—will be crucial as the global drying of the climate continues.
September 12, 2019
Thoreau, Henry David
Walden or Life in the Woods
188 pp (many editions, varying page length)
A reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings. The work is part personal declaration of independence, social experiment, voyage of spiritual discovery, satire, and manual for self-reliance. First published in 1854, Walden details Thoreau’s experiences over the course of two years, two months, and two days in a cabin he built near Walden Pond, amidst woodland owned by his friend and mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson, near Concord, Massachusetts. Thoreau used this time to write his first book, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers. The experience later inspired Walden, in which Thoreau compresses the time into a single calendar year and uses passages of four seasons to symbolize human development. By immersing himself in nature, Thoreau hoped to gain a more objective understanding of society through personal introspection. Simple living and self-sufficiency were Thoreau’s other goals, and the whole project was inspired by transcendentalist philosophy, a central theme of the American Romantic Period.
October 10, 2019
Influenza: The Hundred Year Hunt to Cure the Deadliest Disease in History
2018. 272 pp
While influenza is now often thought of as a common and mild disease, it still kills over 30,000 people in the US each year. Dr. Brown, currently Director of Emergency Care Research at the National Institutes of Health, expounds on the flu’s deadly past to solve the mysteries that could protect us from the next outbreak. He talks with leading epidemiologists, policy makers, and the researcher who first sequenced the genetic building blocks of the original 1918 virus to offer both a comprehensive history and a roadmap for understanding what’s to come. Dr. Brown digs into the discovery and resurrection of the flu virus in the frozen victims of the 1918 epidemic, as well as the bizarre remedies that once treated the disease, such as whiskey and blood-letting. He also breaks down the current dialogue surrounding the disease, explaining the controversy over vaccinations, antiviral drugs like Tamiflu, and the federal government’s role in preparing for pandemic outbreaks. Though 100 years of advancement in medical research and technology have passed since the 1918 disaster, Dr. Brown warns that many of the most vital questions about the flu virus continue to confound even the leading experts.
November 14, 2019
Birds by the Shore: Observing the Natural Life of the Atlantic Coast
2019. 224 pp. (revised edition)
For three years, Ackerman lived in the small coastal town of Lewes, Delaware, in the sort of blue-water, white-sand landscape that draws summer crowds up and down the eastern seaboard. Birds by the Shore is a book about discovering the natural life at the ocean’s edge: the habits of shorebirds and seabirds, the movement of sand and water, the wealth of creatures that survive amid storm and surf. Against this landscape’s rhythms, Ackerman revisits her own history--her mother’s death, her father’s illness and her hopes to have children of her own.
February 13, 2020
Prothero, Donald R.
The Story of the Earth in 25 Rocks: Tales of Important Geological Puzzles and the People Who Solved Them
2018. 368 pp.
Prothero tells the fascinating stories behind the discoveries that shook the foundations of geology. In twenty-five chapters, each about a particular rock, outcrop, or geologic phenomenon, Prothero recounts the scientific detective work that shaped our understanding of geology, from the unearthing of exemplary specimens to tectonic shifts in how we view the inner workings of our planet. He follows in the footsteps of the scientists who asked, and answered, geology’s biggest questions: How do we know how old the earth is? What happened to the supercontinent Pangea? How did ocean rocks end up at the top of Mount Everest? What can we learn about our planet from meteorites and moon rocks? He answers these questions through expertly chosen case studies, such as Pliny the Younger’s firsthand account of the eruption of Vesuvius; the granite outcrops that led a Scottish scientist to theorize that the landscapes he witnessed were far older than Noah’s Flood; the salt and gypsum deposits under the Mediterranean Sea that indicate that it was once a desert; and how trying to date the age of meteorites revealed the dangers of lead poisoning. Each of these breakthroughs filled in a piece of the greater puzzle that is the earth, with scientific discoveries dovetailing with each other to offer an increasingly coherent image of the geologic past.
March 12, 2020
1964 (many editions and page lengths)
First published in 1962, Silent Spring alerted a large audience to the environmental and human dangers of indiscriminate use of pesticides, spurring revolutionary changes in the laws affecting our air, land, and water. "Silent Spring became a runaway bestseller, with international reverberations . . [It is] well crafted, fearless and succinct . . Even if she had not inspired a generation of activists, Carson would prevail as one of the greatest nature writers in American letters" (Peter Matthiessen)
April 9, 2020
The Formation of Vegetable Mould Through the Action of Worms
1881. (many editions with varying page length)
Darwin had been intrigued by the earthworm for forty years, but it wasn’t until 1881 that he produced the volume that would illuminate this “unsung creature which, in its untold millions, transformed the land as the coral polyps did the tropical sea." The volume, which focused on the fascinating behavior and ecology of the earthworm, sold thousands of copies in its first weeks.
May 14, 2020
What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World
2012. 241 pp
A lifelong birder, tracker, and naturalist, Young is guided in his work and teaching by three basic premises: the robin, junco, and other songbirds know everything important about their environment, be it backyard or forest; by tuning in to their vocalizations and behavior, we can acquire much of this wisdom for our own pleasure and benefit; and the birds’ companion calls and warning alarms are just as important as their songs. Birds are the sentries and our key to understanding the world beyond our front door. Unwitting humans create a zone of disturbance that scatters the wildlife. Respectful humans who heed the birds acquire an awareness that radically changes the dynamic. We are welcome in their habitat. The birds don’t fly away. The larger animals don’t race off. No longer hapless intruders, we now find, see, and engage the deer, the fox, the red-shouldered hawk even the elusive, whispering wren. Deep bird language is an ancient discipline, perfected by Native peoples the world over.
June 11, 2020
Kimmerer, Robin Wall
Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teaching of Plants
2013. 408 pp.
With deep compassion and graceful prose, botanist and professor of plant ecology Kimmerer encourages readers to consider the ways that our lives and language weave through the natural world. A mesmerizing storyteller, she shares legends from her Potawatomi ancestors to illustrate the culture of gratitude in which we all should live. In such a culture, everyone knows that gifts will follow the circle of reciprocity and flow back to you again. Kimmerer recalls the ways that pecans became a symbol of abundance for her ancestors: Feeding guests around the big table recalls the trees’ welcome to our ancestors when they were lonesome and tired and so far from home. She reminds readers that we are showered every day with gifts, but they are not meant for us to keep... Our work and our joy is to pass along the gift and to trust that what we put into the universe will always come back.
September 13, 2018
Pepperberg, Irene. Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence--and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process. 2009. 232pp
Alex is the African gray parrot whose ability to master a vocabulary of more than 100 words and answer questions about the color, shape and number of objects garnered wide notice during his life as well as obituaries in worldwide media after his death in September 2007. Pepperberg has previously documented the results of her 30-year relationship with Alex in The Alex Studies. While this book inevitably covers some of the same ground, it is a moving tribute that beautifully evokes the struggles, the initial triumphs, the setbacks, the unexpected and often stunning achievements during a groundbreaking scientific endeavor spent uncovering cognitive abilities in Alex that no one believed were possible, and challenging science’s deepest assumptions about the origin of human cognitive abilities. Pepperberg deftly interweaves her own personal narrative with more intimate scenes of life with Alex than she was able to present in her earlier work.
October 11, 2018
Aldersey-Williams, Hugh. The Tide: The Science and Stories Behind the Greatest Force on Earth. 2017. 368pp
Half of the world’s population today lives in coastal regions lapped by tidal waters. But the tide rises and falls according to rules that are a mystery to almost all of us. Aldersey-Williams weaves together centuries of scientific thinking with the literature and folklore the tide has inspired to explain the power and workings of this most remarkable force. Here is the epic story of the long search to understand the tide from Aristotle, to Galileo and Newton, to classic literary portrayals of the tide from Shakespeare to Dickens, Melville to Jules Verne. Aldersey-Williams visits the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia, where the tides are the strongest in the world; arctic Norway, home of the raging tidal whirlpool known as the maelstrom; and Venice, to investigate efforts to defend the city against flooding caused by the famed acqua alta.
November 8, 2018
Keim, Brandon. The Eye of the Sandpiper. 2017. 266 pp.
Keim pairs cutting-edge science with a deep love of nature, conveying his insights in prose that is both accessible and beautiful. In an elegant, thoughtful tour of nature in the twenty-first century, Keim continues in the tradition of Lewis Thomas, Stephen Jay Gould, and David Quammen, reporting from the frontiers of science while celebrating the natural world’s wonders and posing new questions about our relationship to the rest of life on Earth. The stories are arranged in four thematic sections. Each addresses nature through a different lens. The first is evolutionary and ecological dynamics, from how patterns form on butterfly wings to the ecological importance of oft-reviled lampreys. The second section explores the inner lives of animals, which science has only recently embraced: empathy in rats, emotions in honeybees, spirituality in chimpanzees. The third section contains stories of people acting on insights both ecological and ethological: nourishing blighted rivers, but also caring for injured pigeons at a hospital for wild birds and demanding legal rights for primates. The fourth section unites ecology and ethology in discussions of ethics: how we should think about and behave toward nature, and the place of wildness in a world in which space for wilderness is shrinking.
February 14, 2019
Egan, Dan. The Death and Life of the Great Lakes. 2018. 384pp
The Great Lakes―Erie, Huron, Michigan, Ontario, and Superior―hold 20 percent of the world’s supply of surface fresh water and provide sustenance, work, and recreation for tens of millions of Americans. But they are under threat as never before, and their problems are spreading across the continent. The Death and Life of the Great Lakes is prize-winning reporter Dan Egan’s compulsively readable portrait of an ecological catastrophe happening right before our eyes, blending the epic story of the lakes with an examination of the perils they face and the ways we can restore and preserve them for generations to come.
March 14, 2019
Beehler, Bruce M. North on the Wing: Travels with the Songbird Migration of Spring. 2018. 256pp
In late March 2015, ornithologist Beehler set off on a solo four-month trek to track songbird migration and the northward progress of spring through America. Traveling via car, canoe, and bike and on foot, Beehler followed woodland warblers and other Neotropical songbird species from the southern border of Texas, where the birds first arrive after their winter sojourns in South America and the Caribbean, northward through the Mississippi drainage to its headwaters in Minnesota and onward to their nesting grounds in the north woods of Ontario. Beehler describes both the epic migration of songbirds across the country and the gradual dawning of springtime through the U.S. heartland and also tells the stories of the people and institutions dedicated to studying and conserving the critical habitats and processes of spring songbird migration. Inspired in part by Edwin Way Teale’s landmark 1951 book North with the Spring, this book is a fascinating first-hand account of a once-in-a-lifetime journey. It engages readers in the wonders of spring migration and serves as a call for the need to conserve, restore, and expand bird habitats to preserve them for future generations of both birds and humans.
April 11, 2019
Goldfarb, Ben. Eager: The Surprising Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter. July 2018. 304pp.
In Eager, environmental journalist Ben Goldfarb reveals that our modern idea of what a healthy landscape looks like and how it functions is wrong, distorted by the fur trade that once trapped out millions of beavers from North America’s lakes and rivers. The consequences of losing beavers were profound: streams eroded, wetlands dried up, and species from salmon to swans lost vital habitat. Today, a growing coalition of “Beaver Believers” recognizes that ecosystems with beavers are far healthier, for humans and non-humans alike, than those without them. From the Nevada deserts to the Scottish highlands, Believers are now hard at work restoring these industrious rodents to their former haunts. Eager is a powerful story about one of the world’s most influential species, how North America was colonized, how our landscapes have changed over the centuries, and how beavers can help us fight drought, flooding, wildfire, extinction, and the ravages of climate change.
May 9, 2019
Wilcox, Christie. Venomous: How Earth’s Deadliest Creatures Mastered Biochemistry. 2016. 256pp
Molecular biologist Wilcox investigates venoms and the animals that use them, revealing how they work, what they do to the human body, and how they can revolutionize biochemistry and medicine today. He takes us from the coast of Indonesia to the rain forests of Peru in search of the secrets of these mysterious animals. We encounter jellyfish that release microscopic venom-packed darts known to kill humans in just two minutes, a two-inch caterpillar with toxic bristles that trigger hemorrhaging throughout the body, and a stunning blue-ringed octopus with saliva capable of inducing total paralysis. How could an animal as simple as a jellyfish evolve such an intricate, deadly poison? And how can a snake possess enzymes that tear through tissue yet leave its own body unscathed? Wilcox meets the scientists who often risk their lives studying these lethal beasts to find out, and puts her life on the line to examine these species up close. She also shows how venom is helping us untangle the complex mechanisms of some of our most devastating diseases.
June 13, 2019
Jasanoff, Alan. The Biological Mind: How Brain, Body, and Environment Collaborate to Make Us Who We Are. 2018. 304 pp.
To many, the brain is the seat of personal identity and autonomy. But the way we talk about the brain is often rooted more in mystical conceptions of the soul than in scientific fact. This blinds us to the physical realities of mental function. We ignore bodily influences on our psychology, from chemicals in the blood to bacteria in the gut, and overlook the ways that the environment affects our behavior, via factors varying from subconscious sights and sounds to the weather. As a result, we alternately overestimate our capacity for free will or equate brains to inorganic machines like computers. But a brain is neither a soul nor an electrical network: it is a bodily organ, and it cannot be separated from its surroundings. Our selves aren’t just inside our heads--they’re spread throughout our bodies and beyond. Only once we come to terms with this can we grasp the true nature of our humanity.
For Dirigo Pines residents. (Inn and cottages)
We meet the last Monday of each month from 3-4pm at the Dirigo Pines Library. Please contact Dirigo Pines Activities if you'd like to join us. 866-3400 ext. 178.
Monday, February 27, Adopting Anton by Robert Klose
Monday, March 27, American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
Monday, April 24, The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
Monday, May 22, Living with Mr. Fahrenheit by Lisa Beecher
Monday, June TBA, READ ME title, Lungfish by Meghan Gilliss
Monday, July TBA, READ ME title, Night of the Living Rez by Morgan Talty
Meetings held in the 2nd half of the month, TBD.
For details contact Katie at email@example.com
|Middlegame by Seanan McGuire|
|A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross|
|Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo|
|A Magic Steeped in Poison by Judy I. Lin|
|Out by Natsuo Kirino|
|A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazney|
|Homicide and Halo-Halo by Mia P. Manansala|
|A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik|
|Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens|
|The Story of a New Timeline by Annalee Newitz|
|The Murder of Mr. Wickham by Claudia Gray|
|The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh|
|The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern|
|A Deadly Inside Scoop by Abby Collette|
|Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas|
|Penpal by Dathan Auerbach|
|Gunnerkrigg Court V. 1 by Thomas Sidd|
|The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune|
|The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline|
|A Good Girl's Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson|
|Greenglass House by Kate Mitford|
|A Bird in the Hand by Ann Cleeves|
|Tailchaser’s Song by Tad Williams|
|The Inugami Curse by Seishi Yokomizo|
|Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McQuire|
|Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield|
|As Old As Time by Liz Breswell|
|The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin|
|A Wizard's Guide to Defensive Baking by Ursula Vernon|
|THe Secret History by Donna Tartt|
|Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll|
|The Girls She Left Behind by Sarah Graves|
|Midsummer’s Mayhem by Rajani LaRocca|
|THe Silent Treatment by Abbie Greaves|
|THe Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender|
|Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger|
|Sorcery in Thorns by Margaret Rogerson|
|A Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman|
|The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly|
|The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde|
|Skinwalker by Faith Hunter|
|House Rules by Jodi Picoult|
|Horns by Joe Hill|
|To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis|
|White Cat by Holly Black|
|A Dark Adapted Eye by Barbara Vine|
|Poison by Chris Wooding|
|The Witch Boy (Graphic Novel) by Molly Ostertag|
|Carry One: the Rise and Fall of Simon Snow by Rainbow Rowell|
|The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon|
|Encyclopedia Brown Solves Solves Them All by Sonald Sobol|
|The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow|
|The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Allen Bradley|
|Bound by Donna Jo Napoli|
|Tell No One by Harlan Coben|
|The Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum|
|Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire|
|Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire|
|The First Rule of Ten by Hendricks & Tinker|
|Phantastes by George MacDonald|
|Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke|
|Children of Blood and Bone by Toni Adeyemi|
|Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch|
|Written in Red by Anne Bishop|
|The Sentence is Death by Anthony Horowitz|
|Alphabet of Thorn by Patricia McKillip|
|The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey|
|Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood|
|Death Comes to Pemberley by PD James|
|Stardust by Neil Gaiman|
|Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan|
|The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman|
|Sunshine by Robin McKinley|
|The Witch Elm by Tara French|
|A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin|
|Birthday Party Murder by Leslie Meier|
|Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik|