Small but Mighty: Notes from the Science and Nature Section

Small But Mighty
Notes from the Science & Nature Section
By Kelly Barth

 

Note: Scroll to the bottom of this article for a full list of all titles that have been mentioned!


Welcome to what I hope will become a continuing series. As the resident science and nature nerd, I know as well as anyone that this can be the last place in the bookstore you want to browse. There are times, I’ll admit, when I want to find a book giving me a reason to hope for a green future on our tender planet. It’s the side of me that has to be reminded that our injured world is still so replete with beauty it can easily bring me to tears, to my knees, and to my tiptoes to take it in. If that’s where you are in this winter space, the following books will suit you nicely:

How to Catch a Mole: Wisdom from a Life lived in Nature by Marc Hamer is a honey of a book. Hamer is one of the last of Wales' traditional mole catchers. His narrative parallels his fieldwork, tunneling ever deeper into the natural history of his bounty and into his own conflicted role as their hunter. The result is a sumptuous meditation on beauty, marriage, aging, and a life outdoors.

After I read Marc Hamer’s second book Seed to Dust, I decided he should be declared the Zen monk of the outdoors! In it, he moves dazzlingly from an observation of the most humble of flower or bud to profound contemplations of life and death in a few lines of deceptively simple prose. His beautifully captured relationship as gardener to the cunning and lovely Miss Cashmere will leave even the most hardened of readers reaching for a tissue. What a treat!

The Farmer's Son by Irish cattle farmer John Connell is both natural history and memoir. Readers will gain a far broader knowledge of cattle as well as an understanding of the long and mythic history of humans and the animals they tend. The book also recounts daily life on an intergenerational farm, capturing the moving interactions between a son and a father who inevitably clash against and wound one another. Connell's raw honesty about overcoming depression while keeping the farm afloat is nothing short of literary nourishment. Highly recommended.

The graphic adaptation of E.O. Wilson's memoir Naturalist will bring a whole new type and generation of readers into contact with the life and ideas of one of the world's most respected scientists. The images and captions beautifully encapsulate detailed and lengthy descriptions of Wilson's ideas and research methods without losing any of their importance. Naturalist may provide a gateway and validation to a whole new cadre of introverted biophiles bent on knowing and preserving our precious planet and our fellow inhabitants!

World of Wonders by Aimee Nezhukumatathil left me buzzing with joy! A Brown girl raised among white people, Nezhukumatathil can relate to many of the animals featured in this collection of short essays, who, like her, have contrived wondrous adaptations to get along in surroundings that can be less than welcoming. Her poet's eye, irrepressible spirit, and unquenchable love of nature bestow previously untold riches.

In his newest book, An Immense World, Ed Yong continues to dish up the most delicious of soft science in a way every reader can enjoy. He explores the latest insight into the mind-blowing sensory abilities of our fellow animals. After reading it, you'll never again want to consider humans as the apical expression of evolution's marvels. We're just one among innumerable beings living within their own bedazzling sensory universe, one which would be unrecognizable to another species.

At a time when even the most common backyard birds are beings not to be taken for granted, American Birds: A Literary Companion reminds us of all that we still have to cherish. They can trace the same thrill from 19th-century writers like Henry David Thoreau who warms to the sound of the wood thrush right through to the writing of present-day modern American writers whose ears, eyes, and hearts are still moved to hope, which as Emily Dickinson famously wrote, is “the thing with feathers that perches in the soul.” We owe a debt of gratitude to editors Terry Tempest Williams and Andrew Rubenfeld for compiling this beautiful connection through time.

How to Catch a Mole: Wisdom from a Life Lived in Nature By Marc Hamer Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9781771649940
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: Greystone Books - June 14th, 2022

In this evocative and heart-wrenching memoir, a hard-working Welsh molecatcher reveals his double life as a poet and a dreamer - "A wonderful memoir ... hands down the most charming book I read last year."--Margaret Renkl, The New York Times


Staff Pick Badge
Seed to Dust: Life, Nature, and a Country Garden By Marc Hamer Cover Image
$26.95
This book is hard-to-find or out of print and we may not be able to get it. Email for more details.
ISBN: 9781771647687
Published: Greystone Books - May 4th, 2021


For readers of Late Migrations and H is for Hawk

A stunning meditation on gardening and the wisdom of plants, " that rare book that will appeal to nonfiction readers everywhere. . . Candid, tender, thoughtful and absorbing."--Shelf Awareness (STARRED Review)


The Farmer's Son: Calving Season on a Family Farm By John Connell Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780358305590
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: Ecco - May 12th, 2020

For fans of The Shepherd’s Life, a poignant memoir—and #1 Irish bestseller—about a wayward son’s return home to his family’s farm, and how he found a new beginning in an age-old world

Farming has been in John Connell's family for generations, but he never intended to follow in his father's footsteps.


Staff Pick Badge
Naturalist: A Graphic Adaptation By Edward O. Wilson, Jim Ottaviani, C.M. Butzer (Illustrator) Cover Image
$46.76
ISBN: 9781610919586
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: Island Press - November 10th, 2020

"Poised to inspire a new generation of naturalists." - Publishers Weekly

A vibrant graphic adaptation of the classic science memoir

Regarded as one of the world’s preeminent biologists, Edward O.


Naturalist 25th Anniversary Edition By Edward O. Wilson Cover Image
$39.00
This book is hard-to-find or out of print and we may not be able to get it. Email for more details.
ISBN: 9781642830217
Published: Island Press - March 12th, 2019

Edward O. Wilson—winner of two Pulitzer prizes, champion of biodiversity, and Faculty Emeritus at Harvard University—is arguably one of the most important thinkers of the twentieth century. Yet his celebrated career began not with an elite education but from an insatiable curiosity about the natural world and drive to explore its mysteries.


Staff Pick Badge
World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments By Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Fumi Nakamura (Illustrator) Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9781571313652
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: Milkweed Editions - September 8th, 2020

"Hands-down one of the most beautiful books of the year." --NPR

From beloved, award-winning poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil comes a debut work of nonfiction--a collection of essays about the natural world, and the way its inhabitants can teach, support, and inspire us.


Staff Pick Badge
An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us By Ed Yong Cover Image
By Ed Yong
$30.00
ISBN: 9780593133231
Availability: In stock at our distributor’s warehouse; will be at the Raven in 3-10 bus. days! More at ravenbookstore.com/ordering-faqs
Published: Random House - June 21st, 2022

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A “thrilling” (The New York Times), “dazzling” (The Wall Street Journal) tour of the radically different ways that animals perceive the world that will fill you with wonder and forever alter your perspective, by Pulitzer Prize–winning science journalist Ed Yong
 


Staff Pick Badge
American Birds: A Literary Companion By Andrew Rubenfeld (Editor), Terry Tempest Williams (Editor) Cover Image
$24.95
This book is hard-to-find or out of print and we may not be able to get it. Email for more details.
ISBN: 9781598536553
Published: Library of America - March 10th, 2020

Featuring some of America's greatest writers and poets, this landmark anthology is a one-of-a-kind field guide to the American literary imagination.