Staff Pick

Hoare’s beautiful fantasia on the sea is nature writing at its best—heartfelt and immediate. It’s also a rich cultural history, tracing the ocean’s paths through literature, art, and myth; and a wider world history, covering naval warfare, shipwrecks, imperialism, and the Anthropocene’s effects on climate and biodiversity. As Hoare reminds us, “the planet consists mostly of water, like us, and we are governed by its cycles more powerfully than by any elected body,” so it’s not surprising that he finds the sea in every realm of earthly life, and vice versa; he tells us what makes a blue “navy” and notes that Virginia Woolf’s “Orlando lives 400 years—as long as an Arctic whale.” But like Melville, who “was always at sea, in his head,” Hoare is more mer than man. He swims every day, no matter what the weather, and he’s not alone: at various times Thoreau, Wilfred Owen, Lord Byron, and many others have been as irresistibly drawn to the sea. Like a series of waves and currents flowing into and out of each other, Hoare weaves his own story with those of The Tempest, Moby-Dick, and their progeny (he’s brilliant on Woolf’s recasting of Melville’s novel in To the Lighthouse). He gives vivid and lyrical accounts of beaches from Cape Cod to Bantry Bay to Portsmouth, with meanders to many rivers and lakes and even the watery hellholes of First World War trenches. Close enough to the ocean to feel even jellyfish stings as “venomous caresses,” Hoare acknowledges that the sea “does not care” about him. If one day he fails to return from a swim, he won’t be surprised. He won’t be sorry, either. This is a magnificent and passionate book—fully worthy of its subject.

RISINGTIDEFALLINGSTAR: In Search of the Soul of the Sea Cover Image
ISBN: 9780226560526
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: University of Chicago Press - April 2nd, 2018

Staff Pick

In their second, stunning, collaboration, award-winning geographer James Cheshire and Oliver Uberti, former senior design editor for National Geographic, use big data to show us worlds we’ve never been able to see before. Where the Animals Go (W.W. Norton, $39.95) charts the creatures of land, sea, and air using the information generated by a wide range of new technologies, from GPS to DNA “barcoding,” DTAGs (digital sound recording tags) to fluorescent nanoparticles. Tailoring the technology to fit the environment and the creature, scientists have followed elephants and zebras over more ground than these creatures were thought to cover, tracked a wolf across the Alps from Ljubljana to Verona by way of Austria, sent drones to count orangutans on Sumatra by tabulating their nests in the trees, and traced seals under the Southern Ocean, a project that also yielded data on sea salinity and temperature—essential for research on climate change. Cheshire and Uberti have collected stories about the animals along with the data, and use both for the dozens of detailed, full-color maps that form the heart of their book. Just as technology is revising assumptions about many animals’ range, feeding habits, and other behavior, and giving conservationists evidence for new policies concerning wildlife, it’s also fostering these beautiful visualizations. Watch the spirals of a griffon vulture catching a thermal, or the flight of  golden-winged warblers staying just ahead of a tornado, or measure the depth a whale dives when exposed to the noise of a submarine, and you come close to understanding what it’s like to be an animal on Earth today.

Where the Animals Go: Tracking Wildlife with Technology in 50 Maps and Graphics Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393634020
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 19th, 2017

Staff Pick

Wolves occupy a special place in the hearts of Americans, commanding admiration for their beauty and respect for their fierce predatory skills. Although these animals are inextricably linked to the rugged identity of the West, Nate Blakeslee shows that the reality of human-wolf coexistence is complicated and uneasy. With the immediacy of a novel, American Wolf (Crown, $28) tracks “0-Six,” a charismatic alpha female descended from a pack reintroduced to Yellowstone in 1995 (before which wolves had been hunted to near extinction). As she raises her cubs and faces down other wolves, 0-Six’s journey is depicted in meticulous and essential detail, providing the hook to a wider depiction of life in the northern Rockies. People feature prominently, including the watchers who track the wolf packs, the environmentalists who fought for their reintroduction, the ranchers losing livestock, and the hunters who resent the loss of elk, the wolves’ primary prey. Blakeslee is scrupulously fair in presenting the perspective of all those whose livelihoods are affected, and readers shouldn’t approach this expecting a “good guys, bad guys” narrative.  Whatever conclusions you may reach, however, what stands out is the author’s esteem for an ancient species under pressure in the modern era.

American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101902783
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Crown - October 17th, 2017