Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Moon by Whale Light: And Other Adventures among Bats, Penguins, Crocodilians, and Whales

Author: Diane Ackerman

First line: One winter evening, I took a seat in a natural amphitheater of limestone boulders, at the bottom of which was the wide, dark mouth of Bracken Cave.

Why you should read this book: It's a breakneck poetic safari, providing a microscopic lens on four worlds rarely glimpsed by the average reader. Ackerman, embarking on a series of adventures, gets up close and extremely personal with a number of animals, engaging in behaviors most of us would never even dream of (sexing alligators with one finger up the cloaca, searching out caves full of bats, swimming beside very large whales in frigid waters) and writing of her experience with luscious aplomb. The author's journey is seamlessly melded with historical, mythological, and naturalistic information, detailed descriptions of the fanatic field workers she meets along the way, and rich reflections from her own understanding of the biological world and the place of man within it.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You get cold just thinking about icebergs, twitch imagining bats, and don't even want to know the definition of a cloaca.

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