Fireflies, Honey, and Silk - Gilbert Waldbauer, James Nardi

Annie Dillard first forced me to reevaluate my position (“yuck”) on insects; Pilgrim at Tinker Creek left me, if not fascinated, at least open to the idea that the insect world is complex and offers sophisticated insight into life and the human condition. Fireflies, Honey, & Silk (Univ. of California, $25.95) took my entomological curiosity several steps further, towards actual infatuation and appreciation. Gilbert Waldbauer takes a meandering, humanities-friendly survey of “insects people like,” highlighting the debt our material culture owes to bugs (by way of silk, beeswax candles, shamanist implements), but he also considers poetry (from Japanese haiku on the lightning bug to a summary of the “flea on bosom” trope in European literature), and peppers the narrative with personal anecdotes. The wonder and enthusiasm here are contagious.

Fireflies, Honey, and Silk By Dr. Gilbert Waldbauer, James Nardi (Illustrator) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780520268074
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: University of California Press - October 6th, 2009

Mark Twain's Book of Animals - Mark Twain, Shelley Fisher Fishkin

Twain had a special fondness for animals and the pieces gathered in Mark Twain’s Book Of Animals (Univ. of California, $27.50) show him at his humorous, offensive, passionate, sardonic best. For laughs, read “Letters from a Dog to another Dog Explaining and Accounting for Man,” which combines Twain’s biting criticism of bipeds with a canine’s down-to-earth sensibleness. The masterful etchings by Barry Moser capture the spirit of Twain’s wit; this is a fun book for Twain fans and animal lovers.

A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir - Donald Worster

“I care to live only to entice people to look at Nature’s loveliness,” said John Muir in 1874. Born in Scotland, reared in rural Wisconsin; resistant to industrial and agricultural life, yet a talented carpenter, engineer and fruit rancher; an autodidact of botany and geology; and given to taking walks, long walks, of, say 1,000 miles or so, Muir, the founder of the Sierra Club, indeed exhibited A Passion For Nature (Oxford Univ., $34.95). Until discovering the beauty of the Sierra Nevada and falling in love with California in general, Muir felt restless and alienated from both farming and urban life. Donald Worster’s biography sets Muir within the currents of his time, showing his struggles to harmonize scientific views of nature with spiritual belief, and to advocate wilderness preservation in the face of civilization’s relentless expansion. Generous quotations from Muir’s letters and sketches from his notebooks bring the man to life.

A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir By Donald Worster Cover Image
ISBN: 9780195166828
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Oxford University Press, USA - October 21st, 2008