From My Nightstand

Work is kicking my butt this week, so in lieu of new photos and natural history, I thought I’d share a bit about the books I’ve been reading lately that are at least kinda-sorta relevant to this blog. I’m writing this sleepy without proper editing so forgive any choppy sentences!

  • My Beloved Brontosaurus, by Brian Switek. I don’t know that I’m more particularly interested in dinosaurs than anyone else (vivid memories of seeing Jurassic Park in the theater as a five-year-old aside), so I might never have picked up this book if its author hadn’t happened to start following me on Twitter, but I’m glad I did. Actually, scratch that: I am definitely interested in one particular sort of dinosaur, the avian kind, and I love that Brian never lets you forget through the whole book that that’s exactly what birds are. He deals with how our understanding of dinosaurs has changed over time, from thinking of them as big dumb cold-blooded brutes to the complicated animals we now know them to be. Highly recommended for anyone interested in natural history, paleontology, etc.! Also, the cover art is killer.
  • Snapper, by Brian Kimberling. This is a novel about someone a man tramps around in the woods of the Midwest collecting data on birds for a living. As someone from the Midwest who has collected data on birds for a living, I cannot tell you how much I love that someone has written a novel about it (albeit one that might toe the line of memoir, considering how much the protagonist has in common with the author). A lot of the events related in it will ring true to anyone who’s done field work, and I’m only two-thirds of the way done with it at the moment but I’m enjoying it immensely.
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain. This is the one that’s the biggest stretch to claim is related to the natural history theme of this blog, but whatever, it’s my blog and I do what I want. As someone who definitely will score as an introvert on any personality test you can devise, it had been on my “to-read” list for a while, and I’m glad I finally got around to it. Read this one with your skepticism filter firmly in place, because there are definitely passages that tend toward something like “introverts are all wonderful special snowflakes whom no one appreciates the way they deserve!” that could be easy for someone who identifies themselves as part of this group to lap up uncritically. However, I really liked learning about the physiological basis for why some people are introverts and some people are extroverts. The take-away message is, you have your own strengths, so stop feeling like there’s something wrong with you because you’re quiet and thoughtful and don’t like noisy parties.

Read any good books of your own lately? Share in the comments!

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3 thoughts on “From My Nightstand”

  1. Coincidentally, I am also reading ‘Quiet’. I wouldn’t go as far as ‘special snowflake’, but I am learning a lot about myself, and that introversion need not be an impairment in a world that seems to be dominated by extroverts (even if some are only sheep in wolf’s clothing).
    As far as other books still on my nightstand waiting to be read, I was delighted to find the following trio at a charity used book sale: ‘Death by Black Hole’, by Neil De Grasse Tyson; ‘Universe: An Evolutioary Approach to Astronomy’ by Eric Chaisson; and ‘The Ascent of Man’ by Jacob Bronowski. A bargain at $5, and good reading for an introvert !

  2. I also enjoyed QUIET. Before reading it I would have identified myself as an extrovert but through reading learned I’m far more introverted than I realized. I think it fits perfectly on this blog- I’ll be many naturalists are introverts.

    Paul, I LOVE Neil DeGrasse Tyson! I haven’t read his books- I follow him on Twitter and watch most of his interviews. I’ll have to get that book.

    My latest read that might interest you, Rebecca, is novel THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. As the book opens, the protagonist is “aging out” of the foster care system in California. She is unable to use words to communicate her true feelings (she’s not mute- just unable to express feelings) so she uses the old Victorian meanings of flowers to convey her messages. I thought the ending tied things up a little to neatly, but loved watching the character grow.

    1. Me too. Neil is an excellent communicator, both in print and on screen. I am looking forward to the new version of ‘Cosmos’, scheduled to air in Spring 2014.

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