Partaking of the Miraculous

As mentioned previously in this space, several excellent books on whales and ocean life washed ashore among the flotsam of the first pandemic year, Floating Coast and Fathoms, to name two favorites. So I stopped in my tracks when I chanced upon a review of a new book called Albert and the Whale. The book…
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First Steps

It happened again. A patron led me down a long and twisty path, simply by requesting a DVD.  "Do you have Nomad?" I figured he meant the Oscar-winning film Nomadland, but a catalog search came up with a match, a film I'd never heard of -- and, it turns out, one that I was keenly interested…
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Under a White Sky

Pop quiz! What was the biggest news of 2020? COVID, right? Easy. But maybe species extinction was really the big news, just not quite as in your face. Or how about the climate emergency? Levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide are higher than they’ve been in 3.6 million years, and are only going higher. How about COVID…
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Swimming Through the Library

"It's dreary in this world, ladies and gentlemen." (And yet): "Marvelous is the working of our world!" So wrote Nikolai Gogol, and so ends A Swim in A Pond in the Rain, George Saunders' new book on writing, reading, and life, via a handful of Russian stories. I wish I had known, in 2017 when…
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An Interactive Polyphony

So my previous post linked to even more books (and documentaries) than usual. No regrets. However, after I finished it I told myself the next one would be a one-title review. Then I checked the calendar -- only a couple weeks until it was due! That clinched it. Or it should have... One book that…
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Annnd a Big Exhale

Once in a while, helping a library patron or on the trail of a certain book or author, some odd tidbit in the catalog will grab my attention. A recent example: I discovered that the new book by James Nestor had several dozen holds on it, and at that time we owned only one copy…
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Bering Witness

Despite living in the center of the continent, and quasi-quarantined at that, we know that Siberia is burning and the arctic ice is melting. The permanence of permafrost has passed. From beneath the thawing coasts and the consequent noise of increased shipping, the whales are calling. A few years ago, James Nestor's book Deep reminded me of my…
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Back in early March I had the good fortune of being first on the holds list for Recollections of My Nonexistence, the new memoir by Rebecca Solnit. My luck held -- I checked it out just before the quarantine, thus guaranteeing that I could keep it for months. (I’ve been infected by Ms. Solnit’s contagious…
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In recent years there's been a groundswell in studies of the ecology of hidden things -- soil biota, genomics, cell biology, the human biome.
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Erosion, and its Opposites

I appreciated nothing of this country, the actual landscape, until high school, when a friend introduced me to the Southwest via a book called The Monkey Wrench Gang, by Ed Abbey. In it, the land is essentially one of the characters. With that, my days out east were numbered -- as were my days of…
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