Books that Tackle How and Why

As we sit here watching the snow and the rain and the snow and the wind, I am reminded of the wonders of science and nature that we so take for granted and complain about as needed.  With Earth Day coming next week, it is a time to stop and think about the world around us and how we fit into it.  Talking to Baylee about these books always leaves my TBR stack bigger.  Baylee is really loves the Science and Nature section of our bookstores and is always bringing in thought provoking recommendations for new books and fresh reads.   

Take it away, Baylee!

Control: The Dark History and Troubling Present of Eugenics by Adam Rutherford (who also wrote How to Argue with a Racist)

Releases 11/15/22. Available for pre-order.

Eugenics has always been such a fascinating but also terrifying subject to learn more about, and especially just how deeply ingrained the practice and beliefs that comprise Eugenics go. This book talks about how Eugenics is not just an idea held by some small group of radicals, it's practiced in many ways throughout history and within the modern day. But also ask the question, what happens when someone with a little too much power decides a group of people (whether due to race, ethnicity, disability, or economic factors) shouldn't exist in the world.

A Taste for Poison by Neil Bradbury

A book that both science and true crimes fans alike would enjoy, going through some of the most common and powerful poisons known to man, but examining them by the murders that have been committed using each kind of poison.

Forest Walking by Peter Wohlleben and Jane Billinghurst (she had been the English language translator for most of his books and is an environmentalist herself and credited as co-writer on this new book) 

The newest book from already well known and loved forester and author Peter Wohlleben. I have been very excited about this book! He continues with his amazing ability to talk about ecologically complex topics in more plain languages that anyone with any amount of environmental and scientific knowledge can understand and enjoy. This book is specifically about the woodlands of North America and speaks about how to walk a forest. Not in the way humans always have simply passing through and paying little attention. But really walk in the forest like how to interpret the scars you see on trees and how to unpack the history of that forested area by taking a deeper look at the path you're on. It will definitely add a level of enrichment and enchantment to your next forest walk and has lots of tips on how to share and explain some of these concepts to kids so they can enjoy it as well. My favorite part is when he talks about interpreting holes in trees to better understand what kinds of birds might nest there, as well as his "spotlight on the decomposers" who are the true heroes of our forests!

Unmasking Autism by Dr. Devon Price (who is the author of another book I love called Laziness does not exist

I am currently reading this one and although I'm not finished yet I already love it! The main aspect of the book is working to combat the comments of a lot of autistic and neurodivergent people, especially as adults. Such as "but you don't look autistic" or "but you act so normal though!", which leads us to explain the concept of masking, which many neurodivergent people do, often unknowingly and involuntarily. It's a coping mechanism and a way to survive in a society that doesn't understand or really accept neurodivergent people. Masking is incredibly physically, mentally, and emotionally draining for people who do it and it takes years to begin to even unpack the coping mechanisms you've learned to use to survive in society your whole life. I am particularly enjoying the sections where Price has put together well researched exercises for neurodivergent people to help with the unmasking process like reframing internalized ableist stereotypes that caused us to start masking in the first place. This book serves as a great example of the emerging information and is book about autistic people and BY autistic people that is not about "curing" or "fixing" autism.

There are also a few that have yet to come out but that I am very excited for:

Paradise Falls: The True Story of an Environmental Catastrophe by Keith, O'Brien 

Technically a history book but also a book about the government's lack of care or consideration for the people and inaction when their actions (like polluting an entire town with toxic waste) comes back to bite them. I haven't read the book yet but I know the true story it's about. Also a great piece of womans' history since the backlash and protest against the government for all the toxic waste was largely organized by a group of housewives and other young women in the town. It's reminiscent of Radium Girls, though it's far more recent in our nation's history.

Bitch: The Female of the Species by Lucy Cooke

Releases 6/14/2022.  Available for pre-order. 

A look at evolution through a less male centered lens looking at the often downplayed roles of females in many different animal and species groups

The Elephant in our Universe by Govert Schilling

Releases 5/31/2022.  Available for pre-order. 

Dark Matter is the greatest modern scientific mystery. Only 0.5% of the matter in our Universe is the visible matter we know about. The rest is a mixture of dark matter and dark energy which we know little to nothing about. This book goes through what little we do know about it and what theories there currently are around it.

Diary of a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty 

A mix of memoir, neurodivergent advocacy, and an ecological study of the author's home and childhood in the wilds of Northern Ireland.