Sunday, June 30, 2024

New Titles


1) Dunne, Pete and Kevin Karlson. The Shorebirds of North America: A Natural History and Photographic Celebration. 2024. Princeton University Press. Hardbound: 293 pages. Price: $

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: A lavishly illustrated, large-format reference book by two preeminent experts on North American shorebirds.

     More than half a century has passed since the publication of The Shorebirds of North America (1967), Peter Matthiessen’s masterful natural history of what is arguably the world’s most amazing and specialized bird group. In the intervening decades, our knowledge about these birds has grown significantly, as have the threats to their populations and habitats. Pete Dunne and Kevin Karlson celebrate Matthiessen’s classic book with this updated and expanded natural history of North American shorebirds. This elegantly written book begins by introducing readers to the unrivaled splendor of shorebirds and goes on to cover topics ranging from their biology and habitats to courtship and breeding, flight, the perils of migration, and conservation. Detailed accounts convey the richness and variety of the five family groups, with incisive, fact-filled descriptions of all 52 species of shorebirds known to breed in North America.

     Featuring hundreds of breathtaking images by Karlson and other photographers and drawing on the latest science,
The Shorebirds of North America is a worthy tribute to Matthiessen’s enduring work and an indispensable reference for bird lovers everywhere.

RECOMMENDATION: This book is a MUST-HAVE for anyone with an interest in the shorebirds of North America! 

2) Dubb, Sarah T.. Birding with Benefits: A Novel. 2024. Gallery Books. Paperback: 314 pages. Price: $

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Newly-divorced, almost-empty-nester Celeste is finally seeking adventure and putting herself first, cliches be damned. So when a friend asks Celeste to “partner” with his buddy John for an event, Celeste throws herself into the role of his temporary girlfriend. But quiet cinnamon roll John isn’t looking for love, just birds—he needs a partner for Tucson’s biggest bird-watching contest if he’s ever going to launch his own guiding business. By the time they untangle their crossed signals, they’ve become teammates…and thanks to his meddling friends, a fake couple.

     Celeste can’t tell a sparrow from a swallow, but John is a great teacher, and the hours they spend hiking in the Arizona wilderness feed Celeste’s hunger for new adventures while giving John a chance to practice his dream job. As the two spend more time together, they end up watching more than just the birds, and their chemistry becomes undeniable. Since they’re both committed to the single life, Celeste suggests a status upgrade: birders with benefits, just until the contest is done. But as the bird count goes up and their time together ticks down, John and Celeste will have to decide if their benefits can last a lifetime, or if this love affair is for the birds.
RECOMMENDATION: A unique romance novel that birders will love! 

3) Webb, Richard and Jeff Blincow. A Field Guide to the Larger Mammals of South America. 2024. Princeton University Press. Flexibound: 488 pages. Price: $
PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: South America’s wide range of habitats support a tremendous diversity of plants and animals, including more than 400 species of larger mammals—those the size of a guinea pig or bigger. Many are truly iconic: Jaguar, Puma, Ocelot and numerous other beautiful cats; the fantastic Maned Wolf; the incomparable Giant Anteater; and an incredible variety of extraordinary primates. This groundbreaking guide provides detailed coverage of these and many other wonderful mammals, including porcupines and peccaries; squirrels, sloths, skunks and seals; opossums, olingos and otters; armadillos, agoutis and Andean Bear; and viscachas and Vicuña—not to mention tapirs and river and estuarine dolphins. 
     The species accounts include a description of key features and information on subspecies, comparisons with similar species that overlap in range, details of the habitats in which the species occurs, a summary of its distribution in South America and information on its conservation status. Each species is illustrated with carefully selected photos, or artwork where suitable photos were not available.
  • Detailed coverage of 420 species
  • Showcases over 550 stunning photos, many of rarely photographed species
  • Features specially commissioned artwork for almost 100 species, including comparative plates of all marmosets and titi monkeys
  • Includes up-to-date distribution maps
RECOMMENDATION: This book is a MUST-HAVE for anyone with an interest in the mammals of South America! 

4) Taylor, Emily. California Snakes and How to Find Them. 2024. Heyday. Paperback: 193 pages. Price: $
PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Fear of snakes is one of the most common phobias in the world, yet step into any local zoo and you'll find the snake pit to be among these menageries' greatest attractions. In this entrancing ode to the charms of California's legless reptiles, rattlesnake wrangler Emily Taylor shares her knowledge, enthusiasm, and advice for getting to know our slithering neighbors, dispelling the usual misapprehensions that surround them and celebrating their striking biological traits along the way. 
     Featuring profiles of the nearly 50 fork-tongued species that burrow and coil in California's diverse habitats, and containing tips for serpent seekers—including identification guides and handling advice—California Snakes and How to Find Them delves into the longstanding myths and latest natural history research on our ophidian friends of the West. Taylor showcases the biodiversity of California's snakes, from the Common Garter to the fetchingly pink Rosy Boa to the elusive Alameda Striped Racer, illustrated with more than 100 detailed photographs. Supported with critical insights—such as what to do during a venomous encounter, and an exploration of the seemingly simple question, What is a snake?—this guide is the perfect companion for both the seasoned naturalist and the budding snake enthusiast.
RECOMMENDATION: This book is a must-have for anyone with an interest in California snakes!

5) Grant, B. Rosemary. One Step Sideways, Three Steps Forward: One Woman’s Path to Becoming a Biologist. 2024. Princeton University Press. Hardbound: 331 pages. Price: $
PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: The story of the unorthodox and inspiring life and career of a pioneering biologist.

     Scientist Rosemary Grant’s journey in life has involved detours and sidesteps—not the shortest or the straightest of paths, but one that has led her to the top of evolutionary biology. In this engaging and moving book, Grant tells the story of her life and career—from her childhood love of nature in England’s Lake District to an undergraduate education at the University of Edinburgh through a swerve to Canada and teaching, followed by marriage, children, a PhD at age forty-nine, and her life’s work with Darwin’s finches in the Galápagos islands. Grant’s unorthodox career is one woman’s solution to the problem of combining professional life as a field biologist with raising a family.

     Grant describes her youthful interest in fossils, which inspired her to imagine another world, distant yet connected in time—and which anticipated her later work in evolutionary biology. She and her husband, Peter Grant, visited the Galápagos archipelago annually for forty years, tracking the fates of the finches on the small, uninhabited island of Daphne Major. Their work has profoundly altered our understanding of how a group of eighteen species has diversified from a single ancestral species, demonstrating that evolution by natural selection can be observed and interpreted in an entirely natural environment. Grant’s story shows the rewards of following a winding path and the joy of working closely with a partner, sharing ideas, disappointments, and successes.

RECOMMENDATION: This memoir is a must-read for anyone with an interested in evolutionary biology and/or women in STEM.  


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