Monday, November 24, 2014
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
1) Tunnell Jr., John W. et al.. Texas Seashells: A Field Guide. 2014. Texas A&M University Press. Flexibound: 278 pages. Price: $25.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Walking along the beach and picking up seashells is a favorite pastime enjoyed by millions of people every year. This field guide covers three hundred of the better-known or more common seashells found on Texas coastlines, and anyone interested in identifying and collecting shells along Texas bays and Gulf coast beaches will find Texas Seashells an essential companion. With more than 600 detailed and data-rich color photographs, each species with at least two views, Texas Seashells is sure to make shell identification fun, quick, and easy. Those new to collecting can get started with the introductory chapters on building your shell collection, local laws and regulations protecting this resource, seashell clubs, adopting a “Sheller’s Creed,” and basic seashell taxonomy. A glossary is also included for technical terms not defined in the text.
Although this field guide is for seashells found along the Texas coast, it will also be useful in other regions of the Gulf of Mexico and western Atlantic Ocean.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with an interest in the seashells of the region.
1) Eldredge, Niles and Sidney Horenstein. Concrete Jungle: New York City and Our Last Best Hope for a Sustainable Future. 2014. University of California Press. Hardbound: 276 pages. Price: $34.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: If they are to survive, cities need healthy chunks of the world’s ecosystems to persist; yet cities, like parasites, grow and prosper by local destruction of these very ecosystems. In this absorbing and wide-ranging book, Eldredge and Horenstein use New York City as a microcosm to explore both the positive and the negative sides of the relationship between cities, the environment, and the future of global biodiversity. They illuminate the mass of contradictions that cities present in embodying the best and the worst of human existence. The authors demonstrate that, though cities have voracious appetites for resources such as food and water, they also represent the last hope for conserving healthy remnants of the world’s ecosystems and species. With their concentration of human beings, cities bring together centers of learning, research, government, finance, and media—institutions that increasingly play active roles in solving environmental problems.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in urban ecology.
2) Thewissen, J.G.M. "Hans". The Walking Whales: From Land to Water in Eight Million Years. 2014. University of California Press. Hardbound: 245 pages. Price: $34.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Hans Thewissen, a leading researcher in the field of whale paleontology and anatomy, gives a sweeping first-person account of the discoveries that brought to light the early fossil record of whales. As evidenced in the record, whales evolved from herbivorous forest-dwelling ancestors that resembled tiny deer to carnivorous monsters stalking lakes and rivers and to serpentlike denizens of the coast.
Thewissen reports on his discoveries in the wilds of India and Pakistan, weaving a narrative that reveals the day-to-day adventures of fossil collection, enriching it with local flavors from South Asian culture and society. The reader senses the excitement of the digs as well as the rigors faced by scientific researchers, for whom each new insight gives rise to even more questions, and for whom at times the logistics of just staying alive may trump all science.
In his search for an understanding of how modern whales live their lives, Thewissen also journeys to Japan and Alaska to study whales and wild dolphins. He finds answers to his questions about fossils by studying the anatomy of otters and porpoises and examining whale embryos under the microscope. In the book's final chapter, Thewissen argues for approaching whale evolution with the most powerful tools we have and for combining all the fields of science in pursuit of knowledge.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a technical or semi-technical interest in whale evolution.
Monday, November 17, 2014
Friday, November 14, 2014
1) Nye, Bill. Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation. 2014. St. Martin's Press. Hardbound: 309 pages. Price: $25.99 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Sparked by a controversial debate in February 2014, Bill Nye has set off on an energetic campaign to spread awareness of evolution and the powerful way it shapes our lives. In Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation, he explains why race does not really exist; evaluates the true promise and peril of genetically modified food; reveals how new species are born, in a dog kennel and in a London subway; takes a stroll through 4.5 billion years of time; and explores the new search for alien life, including aliens right here on Earth.
With infectious enthusiasm, Bill Nye shows that evolution is much more than a rebuttal to creationism; it is an essential way to understand how nature works—and to change the world. It might also help you get a date on a Saturday night.
RECOMMENDATION: A readable introduction to the subject by someone taking heat for being on the front lines of this controversy.
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
1) Pratchett, Terry. The Compleat Ankh-Morpork. 2012. Doubleday. Hardbound: 128 pages. Price: $39.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: A brand-new street directory of Discworld city Ankh-Morpork complete with a beautifully illustrated pull-out map.
'There's a saying that all roads lead to Ankh-Morpork. And it's wrong. All roads lead away from Ankh-Morpork, but sometimes people just walk along the wrong way.'
Ankh-Morpork! City of One Thousand Surprises (according to the famous publication by the Guild of Merchants)! All human life is here! Although, if it walks down the wrong alley, often quite briefly!
This is the city celebrated in Terry Pratchett's bestselling Discworld series as you've never seen it before. A stunning map and comprehensive street directory covering each and every district from Unseen University to the Shades, major landmarks like the Patrician's Palace to little-known, er, nooks like Dwarf Bread Museum in Whirligig Alley. See the notorious establishments and famous streets along which so many heroes have walked, in some cases quite hurriedly. As leading Ankh-Morpork entrepreneur CMOT Dibbler would say, 'A nip at any price -- and that's cutting our own throat. Well, close.'
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for Discworld fans!