16 Book Recommendations| December 2018
She has her mother's laugh by Carl Zimmer
Recommended by: @ktlrogers
"She Has Her Mother’s Laugh presents a profoundly original perspective on what we pass along from generation to generation. Charles Darwin played a crucial part in turning heredity into a scientific question, and yet he failed spectacularly to answer it. [...]
But, Zimmer argues, heredity isn’t just about genes that pass from parent to child. Heredity continues within our own bodies, as a single cell gives rise to trillions of cells that make up our bodies. We say we inherit genes from our ancestors – using a word that once referred to kingdoms and estates – but we inherit other things that matter as much or more to our lives, from microbes to technologies we use to make life more comfortable. We need a new definition of what heredity is and, through Carl Zimmer’s lucid exposition and storytelling, this resounding tour de force delivers it.
Weaving together historical and current scientific research, his own experience with his two daughters, and the kind of original reporting expected of one of the world’s best science journalists, Zimmer ultimately unpacks urgent bioethical quandaries arising from new biomedical technologies, but also long-standing presumptions about who we really are and what we can pass on to future generations."
The Food Explorer: The true adventures of the globe-trotting botanist who transformed what America eats by Daniel Stone
"The true adventures of David Fairchild, a late-nineteenth-century food explorer who traveled the globe and introduced diverse crops like avocados, mangoes, seedless grapes—and thousands more—to the American plate.
Kale from Croatia, mangoes from India, and hops from Bavaria. Peaches from China, avocados from Chile, and pomegranates from Malta. Fairchild’s finds weren’t just limited to food: From Egypt he sent back a variety of cotton that revolutionized an industry, and via Japan he introduced the cherry blossom tree, forever brightening America’s capital. Along the way, he was arrested, caught diseases, and bargained with island tribes. But his culinary ambition came during a formative era, and through him, America transformed into the most diverse food system ever created."
Daniel Stone is a staff writer for National Geographic and a former White House correspondent for Newsweek and The Daily Beast. A native of Los Angeles, he holds degrees from UC Davis and Johns Hopkins University.
Read more: https://www.penguinrandomhouse...
The overstory by Richard Powers
Recommended by: @Fischer_DG
Review by The Guardian: "In his twelfth novel, National Book Award winner Richard Powers delivers a sweeping, impassioned novel of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of—and paean to — the natural world. From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, The Overstory unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond, exploring the essential conflict on this planet: the one taking place between humans and nonhumans. There is a world alongside ours — vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe.
The Overstory is a book for all readers who despair of humanity’s self-imposed separation from the rest of creation and who hope for the transformative, regenerating possibility of a homecoming. If the trees of this earth could speak, what would they tell us?"
Read more: http://www.richardpowers.net/t...
Weird Plants by Chris Thorogood
"For the first time, this extraordinary compilation showcases weird, mysterious and bizarre plants from around the world. Plants trick, kill, steal and kidnap, and this unique book explores a fascinating world in which plants have turned the tables on animals. Author Chris Thorogood showcases these plant behaviours, the interrelationships among plants, the interdependencies between plants and animals, and the intrigue of plant evolution. All types of weird and sinister are featured in this book, from carnivorous plants that drug, drown and consume unsuspecting insect prey; giant pitcher plants that have evolved toilets for tree shrews; flowers that mimic rotting flesh to attract pollinating flies, and orchids that duplicitously look, feel and even smell like a female insect to bamboozle sex-crazed male bees.
Read more: https://www.amazon.com/Weird-P...
Australian carnivorous plants by Greg Bourke and Richard Nunn Hortus
Recommended by: @LooniCat
"A beautifully produced coffee table book with extensive colour photographs of all carnivorous plant genera found in Australia (Aldrovanda, Byblis, Cephalotus, Drosera, Nepenthes, and Utricularia). Incorporating 180 images of over 150 species taken over the past two decades by acclaimed wildlife photographers and carnivorous plant experts, Greg Bourke and Richard Nunn, this visually striking book is the first work dedicated to highlighting the beauty of Australian carnivorous plants in the wild through high quality photographs."
Eystettensis - The bishop's garden botanicum curated by Katie Scott and Kathy Willis
Recommended by: @LooniCat
"Imagine a museum at your fingertips.
Enter into the plant kingdom in all its glory with this wonderful handbook of flora from around the world. Botanicum houses an extraordinary collection of plants and fungi, from tiny algae to towering trees. Learn about the diversity of plant life and discover the beautiful and fascinating world of plants. From perennials to bulbs to tropical exotica, Botanicum is a wonderful feast of botanical knowledge complete with superb cross sections of how plants work. A perfect gift for amateur botanists of any age and a stunning collector’s piece with artwork that begs to be lingered over."
Illustrated by Katie Scott and accessibly written by Kathy Willis, Director of Science at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, as well as Professor of Biodiversity at the University of Oxford this stunning book is full of stunningly curated information.
Read more: https://www.waterstones.com/bo...
Fifty plants that changed the course of history by Bill Laws
Recommended by: @LooniCat
"Of course, we are entirely dependent on plants for our food and the air we breathe, but did you know that 5,000 mature English oak trees were used in the construction of Admiral Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory, or that sweet peas were involved in the birth of the science of genetics? King Cotton was the driver of the slave trade, which was the first domino to fall in the American Revolution, and cotton was also the catalyst for the Industrial Revolution. These, and many other extraordinary facts in Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History, highlight the dynamic ways in which plants have influenced human history.
This beautifully designed and illustrated volume provides an engaging guide to the fifty key plants that have had the most impact on human history. Packed full of information, the book includes details about the habitat and characteristics of each plant, fact boxes, full colour photographs and lovely botanical illustrations. Weaving together strands of economic, political and agricultural history, each entry is a fascinating look at the most influential plants known to mankind."
Read more: https://www.amazon.com/Plants-...
Plants of the World: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Vascular Plant Families by Maarten J. M.; Fay, Michael F.; Chase, Mark W. Christenhusz
Recommended by: @michaelffay60
"Plants of the World is the first book to systematically explore every vascular plant family on earth—more than four hundred and fifty of them—organized in a modern phylogenetic order. Detailed entries for each family include descriptions, distribution, evolutionary relationships, and fascinating information on economic uses of plants and etymology of their names. All entries are also copiously illustrated in full color with more than 2,500 stunning photographs. A collaboration among three celebrated botanists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Plants of the World is authoritative, comprehensive, and beautiful. Covering everything from ferns to angiosperms, it will be an essential resource for practicing botanists, horticulturists, and nascent green thumbs alike."
Have a look inside: https://books.google.co.uk/boo...
Orchid Summer: In Search of the Wildest Flowers of the British Isles by Jon Dunn
Recommended by: @nervousbotanist
"Orchids have long cast a spell over our imagination, fuelling in the obsessive collectors of the Victorian age a state known as ‘orchidelirium’. Today these celebrities of the plant kingdom continue to fascinate and entrance.
‘Orchid Summer’, the tale of the author’s quest to see all the orchid species of the British Isles in a single year, taps into this long-rooted obsession with our most charismatic plants. Its approach mirrors that of a number of other ‘big year’ accounts featuring birds and butterflies. It is, however, no soulless exercise in tick-hunting. Instead we are treated to a thoughtful, appreciative and often reverential journey amongst Britain’s most celebrated and iconic plants."
The book is rooted in the scientific literature, charting our evolving knowledge of orchids from medieval times via Darwin to the most up to date genetic studies.
How plants work: form, diversity, survival by Stephen Blackmore
Recommended by: @BowmarPeter
"A large-format, heavily illustrated look at the wide adaptability and rich diversity of the plant kingdom. All the plants around us today are descended from simple algae that emerged more than 500 million years ago. While new plant species are still being discovered, it is thought that there are around 400,000 species in existence. From towering redwood trees and diminutive mosses to plants that have stinging hairs and poisons, the diverse range of plant life is extraordinary. How Plants Work is a fascinating inquiry into, and celebration of, the complex plant kingdom."
The book includes:
- 400 colour photos and meticulously drawn figures
- Scanning electron microscopy images offer close-up views of plant structures
- Diverse examples from around the world
- Plant morphology in an evolutionary context
The revolutionary genius of plants: A new understanding of plant intelligence and behaviour by Stefano Mancuso
Recommended by: @BowmarPeter
"Do plants have intelligence? Do they have memory? Are they better problem solvers than people? The Revolutionary Genius of Plants—a fascinating, paradigm-shifting work that upends everything you thought you knew about plants—makes a compelling scientific case that these and other astonishing ideas are all true
Every page of The Revolutionary Genius of Plants bubbles over with Stefano Mancuso’s infectious love for plants and for the eye-opening research that makes it more and more clear how remarkable our fellow inhabitants on this planet really are. In his hands, complicated science is wonderfully accessible, and he has loaded the book with gorgeous photographs that make for an unforgettable reading experience. The Revolutionary Genius of Plants opens the doors to a new understanding of life on earth."
Read more: https://www.simonandschuster.c...
The Sedges and Rushes of Minnesota by Welby R. Smith
Recommended by: @Edrmorris
"The first comprehensive, fully illustrated field guide to Minnesota’s nearly 250 species of sedges and rushes. With its finely detailed photographs and descriptions, Sedges and Rushes of Minnesota enables quick and reliable identification of these often difficult-to-distinguish species. As an in-depth introduction or a handy field guide, the book is the first complete, comprehensive reference on these important plants of Minnesota, an invaluable resource for specialists, naturalists, and wild plant lovers.
This book is an expert, accessible guide to the nearly 250 species of sedges and rushes in Minnesota. With its finely detailed photographs and descriptions, Sedges and Rushes of Minnesota enables quick and reliable identification of these often difficult-to-distinguish species. As an in-depth introduction or a handy field guide, the book is the first complete, comprehensive reference on these important plants of Minnesota—an invaluable resource for specialists, naturalists, and wild plant lovers."
Raising a Forest by Thibaud Herem
Recommended by: @JenniferMcElwa3
"Though widely known for his intricate architectural black and white illustrations, French artist Thibaud Hérem harbours an unexpected passion for gardening. His latest book Raising A Forest reveals so, and in turn uncovers an entirely different facet to his practice that sees his work break from the straight lines of brick walls and windows. Instead, the pages are filled with beautiful, delicate and colourful drawings of trees, leaves, plants and seeds, plus some gardener’s tools, laid out in a meticulous way that hints at Thibaud’s famous attention to detail."
Read more: https://www.itsnicethat.com/ar...
Fortress plant by Dale Walters
Recommended by: @plantoscope
"In this book Dale Walters takes readers on a journey through these battlefields, exploring how predators try to fool plants' surveillance systems and, if they manage to do so, how they gain access to the nourishment they require. Incredibly, successful attackers can manipulate plant function in order to suppress any attempt by the plant to mount defensive action, while at the same time ensuring a steady supply of food for their own survival. Walters shows how plants respond to such attacks, the defences they use, and how the attacked plant can communicate its plight to its neighbours. These skirmishes represent the latest stage in an unending evolutionary war between plants and organisms that feed on them. These battles might be on a micro scale, but they are every bit as fierce, complicated, and fascinating as the battles between animal predators and prey."
The War Between Trees and Grasses by Howard Thomas
Recommended by: @flwrs4algrnon as H. Thomas "doing for Plant Science what JK Rowling did for steam trains and house elves"
"Professor Howard Thomas’s recent book The War Between Trees and Grasses is a fantastic biological history of these two great groups, how they evolved through time, and shaped our planet. This slim book conveys an important message in its pages; that the tree-grass battle has been raging for millions of years and continues to this day.
The book is neatly split into three parts; Part 1. Tree, Part 2. Grass and Part 3. Human. Each part has five chapters chronologically describing how trees and grasses have evolved, then introducing humans into the midst of the conflict between them."
Read review by Botany One: https://www.botany.one/2018/08...
Brilliant Green: The Surprising History and Science of Plant Intelligence by Stefano Mancuso and Alessandra Viola
Recommended by: @GOESbyJuniper
"Are plants intelligent? Can they solve problems, communicate, and navigate their surroundings? Or are they passive, incapable of independent action or social behavior? Philosophers and scientists have pondered these questions since ancient Greece, most often concluding that plants are unthinking and inert: they are too silent, too sedentary -- just too different from us.
In Brilliant Green, Stefano Mancuso, a leading scientist and founder of the field of plant neurobiology, presents a new paradigm in our understanding of the vegetal world. Combining a historical perspective with the latest in plant science, Mancuso argues that, due to cultural prejudices and human arrogance, we continue to underestimate plants. In fact, they process information, sleep, remember, and signal to one another -- showing that, far from passive machines, plants are intelligent and aware. Through a survey of plant capabilities from sight and touch to communication, Mancuso challenges our notion of intelligence, presenting a vision of plant life that is more sophisticated than most imagine."