The bird book business has been declared healthy by none other than the November 25 Washington Post. In a review section centerfold flaunting full-color photos of a cock-of-the-rock and other seductive avians, Gregory McNamee introduces a mixed flock of the latest temptations for lovers of birds & books. Titles considered range from an introductory guidebook, National Geographic Birding Essentials, to a biography of birding’s patriarch, Roger Tory Peterson, by Douglas Carlson.
Though McNamee's remarks about each volume are brief, he knows the subject well, remarking in passing, for example, that Scott Weidensaul’s 1999 book Living on the Wind belongs in every birder’s collection. If you’re starting to ponder what new books to bestow on your near and dear ones this holiday, this Post review is a good place to start.
Also consider, in the same Post issue, a review of Colin Tudge’s The Tree: A Natural History of What Trees Are, How They Live, and Why They Matter. The reviewer shares my appreciation for Tudge’s preternatural ability to elucidate complex topics, partly through analogies and anecdotes from outside of science. He frequently quotes Shakespeare and Tennyson, notes the Post, “so that reading The Tree is like being in the company of a kindly biology professor who has strayed into a literature seminar.” I’m hoping to wake up Christmas morning to a copy tucked under my tree.
Any other ideas for nature book gifts this season? Do are some books—such as Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us-- too grim/alarming/depressing to be appropriate presents? What traits make a nature book appealing for gift-giving?