Summer reading preview

22 06 2007

So much to read, so little time. For those of you who are interested in my rather lengthy amazon.com wish list (click the button to the right if), here’s a preview of what you can expect my opinion on in the coming days and weeks;

The Age of Reptiles by Edwin H. Colbert

Nothing like an old, lavishly illustrated book about tetrapods. It may be outdated, but it’ll give me some more background on the intellectual/cultural evolution of the “ruling reptiles.”

The Dechronization of Sam Magruder by G.G. Simpson

You might be familiar with G.G. Simpson’s books about evolution, horses, and penguins, but in this (his only fictional work, published in the 80’s) Simpson tells the tale of time-travelling scientist Sam Magruder, who vindicates Simpsons ideas about dinosaurs through direct observation. Sounds like beach reading to me.

Fatalis by Jeff Rovin

Saber-tooth cats in present day LA. ‘Nuff said.

The Ultimate Dinosaur by Various Authors

A collection of essays, short stories, and works of art by various scientists, authors, and artists.

Bring ’em Back Petrified by Lilian McLaughlin Brown

One of several books celebrated fossil-hunter Barnum Brown’s wife wrote about life married to the paleontologist.

A Primate’s Memoir by Robert Sapolsky

I’ve heard so many good things about this book I couldn’t put it off anymore; Sapolsky tells of his studies among baboons in Africa, including how he came to be in such a position in the first place.

The Dragon Seekers: How an Extraordinary Circle of Fossilists Discovered the Dinosaurs and Paved the Way for Darwin by Christopher McGowan

I enjoyed some of McGowan’s other writings, so I thought I would give this one a shot. Dinosaurs certainly shook things up in terms of geology, ideas about extinction, and evolution, but I know that some (like Richard Owen) tried very hard to make them seem like more-perfect ancient creations rather than products of evolution.

The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinction by David Quammen

Another book that I simply could not put off any longer; I’ve thoroughly enjoyed some of Quammen’s articles and other books, and being that extinction is one of my favorite topics, how could I pass this one up?

The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan

I know, I know; shame on me for not reading it sooner.

Vertebrate Paleontology by A.S. Romer

I still don’t have enough scratch for Osteology of the Reptiles, but I figured this might be a good primer. I definitely need to broaden my background when it comes to vertebrates, and I figured Romer’s work might be a good place to start.

The Origin and Evolution of Birds by Alan Feduccia

Given my recent criticisms of Feduccia, it’s only fair that I read his book. This should be an interesting companion to Heilmann’s 1923 book The Origin of Birds, (as well as Romer’s discussion of bird origins in Man and the Vertebrates Vol. I) and I’m definitely interesting in seeing how much has and has not changed since that time.

I should polish off The Jungle within the next day, at which point I’m on to Green Rage by Christopher Manes (a book I was suppossed to read in freshman year of college, but I never got around to it) until the new stuff starts coming in.


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5 responses

24 06 2007
Bora Zivkovic

Simpson is a fast and enjoyable read. Sapolsky is gripping and brilliant. Feduccia is OK if you skip his funny ideas in the first chapters. Sagan is a must-read. Quammen – this is his weakest book as he gets some island biogeography seriously wrong.

24 06 2007
laelaps

Thanks for the head’s up Bora, especially about Quamme’s book. I guess I shoud probably pick up MacArthur’s and Wilson’s The Theory of Island Biogeography to make sure I spot some of Quammen’s mistakes. At any rate, it can’t be worse than the book The Fate of the Dinosaurs where every page contained something horribly wrong.

25 06 2007
Bora Zivkovic

Good idea – and a great future blog post detailing Quammen’s mistakes (so many people think he is right because they do not know island biogeography themselves).

25 06 2007
laelaps

Great idea! I just ordered a copy of Wilson’s and MacArthur’s book, so I’ll definitely write something up when I get it and have a chance to read it along with Quammen’s work. It would be great if I could get my hands on a copy of Whittaker’s Island Biogeography as well, but being that a used copy is over $100 I may have to wait or visit the library for that one.

6 07 2007
Just a few more « Laelaps

[…] a few more 6 07 2007 I should probably keep track of how many books I read this summer; I think I may set an all-time record for myself. The end of The Ultimate […]

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