Thursday, June 30, 2016

Variations on a Theme: Beach Reads

June is the start of summer. Summer is for beach reads. Instead of the usual list of fun, light books, this Variations on a Them encompasses books about the beach... or at least near the beach. So, when you have your toes in the sand you can read about sand itself. I love nerdy moments like that.


Sand: The Never-Ending Story
Michael Wellend

From individual grains to desert dunes, from the bottom of the sea to the landscapes of Mars, and from billions of years in the past to the future, this is the extraordinary story of one of nature's humblest, most powerful, and most ubiquitous materials. Told by a geologist with a novelist's sense of language and narrative, Sand examines the science—sand forensics, the physics of granular materials, sedimentology, paleontology and archaeology, planetary exploration—and at the same time explores the rich human context of sand. Interwoven with tales of artists, mathematicians, explorers, and even a vampire, the story of sand is an epic of environmental construction and destruction, an adventure in staggering scales of time and distance, yet a tale that encompasses the ordinary and everyday. Sand, in fact, is all around us—it has made possible our computers, buildings and windows, toothpaste, cosmetics, and paper, and it has played dramatic roles in human history, commerce, and imagination. In this luminous, kinetic, revelatory account, we do indeed find the world in a grain of sand.

Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises: A Natural History and Species Guide
Annalisa Berta

The eighty-nine cetacean species that swim our seas and rivers are as diverse as they are intelligent and elusive, from the hundred-foot-long, two-hundred-ton blue whale to the lesser-known tucuxi, ginkgo-toothed beaked whale, and diminutive, critically endangered vaquita. The huge distances these highly migratory creatures cover and the depths they dive mean we catch only the merest glimpses of their lives as they break the surface of the water. But thanks to the marriage of science and technology, we are now beginning to understand their anatomy, complex social structures, extraordinary communication abilities, and behavioral patterns. In this beautifully illustrated guide, renowned marine mammalogist Annalisa Berta draws on the contributions of a pod of fellow whale biologists to present the most comprehensive, authoritative overview ever published of these remarkable aquatic mammals.

The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness
Sy Montgomery

Sy Montgomery’s popular 2011 Orion magazine piece, “Deep Intellect,” about her friendship with a sensitive, sweet-natured octopus named Athena and the grief she felt at her death, went viral, indicating the widespread fascination with these mysterious, almost alien-like creatures. Since then Sy has practiced true immersion journalism, from New England aquarium tanks to the reefs of French Polynesia and the Gulf of Mexico, pursuing these wild, solitary shape-shifters. Octopuses have varied personalities and intelligence they show in myriad ways: endless trickery to escape enclosures and get food; jetting water playfully to bounce objects like balls; and evading caretakers by using a scoop net as a trampoline and running around the floor on eight arms. But with a beak like a parrot, venom like a snake, and a tongue covered with teeth, how can such a being know anything? And what sort of thoughts could it think? The intelligence of dogs, birds, and chimpanzees was only recently accepted by scientists, who now are establishing the intelligence of the octopus, watching them solve problems and deciphering the meaning of their color-changing camouflage techniques. Montgomery chronicles this growing appreciation of the octopus, but also tells a love story. By turns funny, entertaining, touching, and profound, The Soul of an Octopus reveals what octopuses can teach us about consciousness and the meeting of two very different minds.


The Secret Life of Lobsters: How Fishermen and Scientists Are Unraveling the Mysteries of Our Favorite Crustacean
Trevor Corson

In this intimate portrait of an island lobstering community and aneccentric band of renegade biologists, journalist Trevor Corson escorts the reader onto the slippery decks of fishing boats, through danger-filled scuba dives, and deep into the churning currents of the Gulf of Maine to learn about the secret undersea lives of lobsters.

The Edge of the Sea
Rachel Carson

The edge of the sea is a strange and beautiful place." A book to be read for pleasure as well as a practical identification guide, The Edge of the Sea introduces a world of teeming life where the sea meets the land. A new generation of readers is discovering why Rachel Carson's books have become cornerstones of the environmental and conservation movements. New introduction by Sue Hubbell.


Spirals in Time: The Secret Life and Curious Afterlife of Seashells
Helen Scales

Seashells, stretching from the deep past into the present day, are touchstones leading into fascinating realms of the natural world and cutting-edge science. Members of the phylum Mollusca are among the most ancient animals on the planet. Their shells provide homes for other animals; have been used as a form of money; and have been a source of gems, food, and new medicines.
After surviving multiple mass extinctions millions of years ago, molluscs and their shells still face an onslaught of anthropogenic challenges, including climate change and corrosive oceans. But rather than dwelling on all that is lost, Helen Scales emphasizes that seashells offer an accessible way to reconnect people with nature, helping to bridge the gap between ourselves and the living world.


Other Beach Reads
Horseshoe Crab: Biography of a Survivor - Anthony D. Fredericks
The Outermost House: A Year of Life on the Great Beach of Cape Cod - Henry Beston

A Photographic Guide to Seashore Life in the North Atlantic: Canada to Cape Cod - J. Duane Sept
Poseidon's Steed: The Story of Seahorses, from Myth to Reality - Helen Scale
The Reef: A Passionate History: The Great Barrier Reef from Captain Cook to Climate Change - Ian McCalman

The Shell Collector's Handbook: The Essential Field Guide for Exploring the World of Shells - Kenneth Wye

Surf, Sand, and Stone: How Waves, Earthquakes, and Other Forces Shape the Southern California Coast - Keith Heyer Meldahl
A Trip to the Beach: Living on Island Time in the Caribbean - Melinda Blanchard and Robert Blanchard

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