A nature book recommendation: Zika: The Emerging Epidemic by Donald G. McNeil Jr.

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2pNdRy3.
In a no-nonsense, declarative writing style, Mr. McNeil tells the history of humanity’s relationship with the Zika virus, recounting how an equatorial African microbe surfaced in the Yap Islands in the Pacific in 2007, infecting 73 percent of the population in just five months.
Book description from Google Books:
Until recently, Zika–once considered a mild disease–was hardly a cause for global panic. But as early as August 2015, doctors in northeast Brazil began to notice a trend: many mothers who had recently experienced symptoms of the Zika virus were giving birth to babies with microcephaly, a serious disorder characterized by unusually small heads and brain damage.By early 2016, Zika was making headlines as evidence mounted–and eventually confirmed–that microcephaly is caused by the virus, which can be contracted through mosquito bites or sexually transmitted.The first death on American soil, in February 2016, was confirmed in Puerto Rico in April. The first case of microcephaly in Puerto Rico was confirmed on May 13, 2016. The virus has been known to be transmitted by the Aedes aegypti or Yellow Fever mosquito, but now Aedes albopictus, the Asian Tiger mosquito, has been found to carry it as well, which means it might affect regions as far north as New England and the Great Lakes. Right now, at least 298 million people in the Americas live in areas “conducive to Zika transmission,” according to a recent study. Over the next year, more than 5 million babies will be born.In Zika: The Emerging Epidemic, Donald G. McNeil Jr. sets the facts straight in a fascinating exploration of Zika’s origins, how it’s spreading, the race for a cure, and what we can do to protect ourselves now.
The book is rated 3.71/5 at goodreads.com, from 208 ratings. See 38 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2pNpsNT.
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A nature book recommendation: Patient H.M.: A Family’s Secrets, the Ruthless Pursuit of Knowledge, and the Brain That Changed Everything by Luke Dittrich

A critic review (source NPR) can be read at: http://n.pr/2cJD061.
The ability to write gracefully about something as abstruse as the brain, to clarify a complex idea with just the right metaphor, is a special skill.
Book description from Google Books:
For readers of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks comes a propulsive, haunting journey into the secret history of brain science by Luke Dittrich, whose grandfather performed the surgery that created the most studied human research subject of all time: the amnesic known as Patient H.M. “Oliver Sacks meets Stephen King in a piercing study of one of psychiatric medicine’s darker hours. . . . A mesmerizing, maddening story and a model of journalistic investigation.”–Kirkus Reviews (starred review) In 1953, a twenty-seven-year-old factory worker named Henry Molaison–who suffered from severe epilepsy–received a radical new version of the then-common lobotomy, targeting the most mysterious structures in the brain. The operation failed to eliminate Henry’s seizures, but it did have an unintended effect: Henry was left profoundly amnesic, unable to create long-term memories. Over the next sixty years, Patient H.M., as Henry was known, became the most studied individual in the history of neuroscience, a human guinea pig who would teach us much of what we know about memory today. Patient H.M. is, at times, a deeply personal journey. Dittrich’s grandfather was the brilliant, morally complex surgeon who operated on Molaison–and thousands of other patients. The author’s investigation into the dark roots of modern memory science ultimately forces him to confront unsettling secrets in his own family history, and to reveal the tragedy that fueled his grandfather’s relentless experimentation–experimentation that would revolutionize our understanding of ourselves. Dittrich uses the case of Patient H.M. as a starting point for a kaleidoscopic journey, one that moves from the first recorded brain surgeries in ancient Egypt to the cutting-edge laboratories of MIT. He takes readers inside the old asylums and operating theaters where psychosurgeons, as they called themselves, conducted their human experiments, and behind the scenes of a bitter custody battle over the ownership of the most important brain in the world. Patient H.M. combines the best of biography, memoir, and science journalism to create a haunting, endlessly fascinating story, one that reveals the wondrous and devastating things that can happen when hubris, ambition, and human imperfection collide. Advance praise for Patient H.M. “Patient H.M. tells one of the most fascinating and disturbing stories in the annals of medicine, weaving in ethics, philosophy, a personal saga, the history of neurosurgery, the mysteries of human memory, and an exploration of human ego.”–Sheri Fink, M.D., Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Five Days at Memorial “Dittrich explores the limits of science and the mind. In the process, he rescues an iconic life from oblivion. Dittrich is well aware that while we are the sum of what we may remember, we’re also at the mercy of what we can forget. This is classic reporting and myth-making at the same time.”–Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin “This book succeeds on every level: as a fresh look at the most famous patient in medical history, as an exposé of our dark history of psychiatry and neurosurgery, and, most powerfully, as a deeply personal investigation into the author’s past. And yet it’s still a page-turner that reads like a thriller.”–Susannah Cahalan, author of Brain on Fire “It felt as if I read this book in one breath. Patient H.M. is a fascinating, powerful investigation, a matryoshka doll of nested stories about the past and present, remembering and forgetting.”–Michael Paterniti, author of The Telling Room
The book is rated 3.84/5 at goodreads.com, from 2069 ratings. See 423 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2ctW3RM.
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A nature book recommendation: I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life by Ed Yong

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2d3mDhR.
Even the book’s endnotes are rich with interesting asides, swarming with interesting sidelights, a teeming microbial world. This is the world you live in. This is the skin you live in. Make yourself at home.
Book description from Google Books:
New York Times BestsellerNew York Times Notable Book of 2016NPR Great Read of 2016Economist Best Books of 2016Brain Pickings Best Science Books of 2016Smithsonian Best Books about Science of 2016Science Friday Best Science Book of 2016A Mother Jones Notable Read of 2016A Bill Gates “Gates Notes” PickMPR Best Books of 2016Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books of 2016 Minnesota Star-Tribune Best of the YearA Kirkus Best Book of the YearA PW Best Book of the Year Guardian Best of the YearTimes (London) Best of the YearJoining the ranks of popular science classics like The Botany of Desire and The Selfish Gene, a groundbreaking, wondrously informative, and vastly entertaining examination of the most significant revolution in biology since Darwin—a “microbe’s-eye view” of the world that reveals a marvelous, radically reconceived picture of life on earth.Every animal, whether human, squid, or wasp, is home to millions of bacteria and other microbes. Ed Yong, whose humor is as evident as his erudition, prompts us to look at ourselves and our animal companions in a new light—less as individuals and more as the interconnected, interdependent multitudes we assuredly are.The microbes in our bodies are part of our immune systems and protect us from disease. In the deep oceans, mysterious creatures without mouths or guts depend on microbes for all their energy. Bacteria provide squid with invisibility cloaks, help beetles to bring down forests, and allow worms to cause diseases that afflict millions of people.Many people think of microbes as germs to be eradicated, but those that live with us—the microbiome—build our bodies, protect our health, shape our identities, and grant us incredible abilities. In this astonishing book, Ed Yong takes us on a grand tour through our microbial partners, and introduces us to the scientists on the front lines of discovery. It will change both our view of nature and our sense of where we belong in it.
The book is rated 4.21/5 at goodreads.com, from 3173 ratings. See 511 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2cumCWV.
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A nature book recommendation: Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2truUs2.
…it is lively, provocative and sure to be another hit among the pooh-bahs. But readers ought to be prepared: Almost every blithe pronouncement Harari makes (that “the free individual is just a fictional tale concocted by an assembly of biochemical algorithms,” for instance) has been the exclusive subject of far more nuanced books…
Book description from Google Books:
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER Yuval Noah Harari, author of the critically-acclaimed New York Times bestseller and international phenomenon Sapiens, returns with an equally original, compelling, and provocative book, turning his focus toward humanity’s future, and our quest to upgrade humans into gods.Over the past century humankind has managed to do the impossible and rein in famine, plague, and war. This may seem hard to accept, but, as Harari explains in his trademark style—thorough, yet riveting—famine, plague and war have been transformed from incomprehensible and uncontrollable forces of nature into manageable challenges. For the first time ever, more people die from eating too much than from eating too little; more people die from old age than from infectious diseases; and more people commit suicide than are killed by soldiers, terrorists and criminals put together. The average American is a thousand times more likely to die from binging at McDonalds than from being blown up by Al Qaeda.What then will replace famine, plague, and war at the top of the human agenda? As the self-made gods of planet earth, what destinies will we set ourselves, and which quests will we undertake? Homo Deus explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the twenty-first century—from overcoming death to creating artificial life. It asks the fundamental questions: Where do we go from here? And how will we protect this fragile world from our own destructive powers? This is the next stage of evolution. This is Homo Deus.With the same insight and clarity that made Sapiens an international hit and a New York Times bestseller, Harari maps out our future.
The book is rated 4.35/5 at goodreads.com, from 12037 ratings. See 1354 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2fmPMtw.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2truUYL.

A nature book recommendation: The Blood of Emmett Till by Timothy B. Tyson

A critic review (source Star Tribune) can be read at: http://strib.mn/2p1sMVb.
A terrific writer and storyteller, Tyson compels a closer look at a heinous crime and the consequential decisions, large and small, that made it a national issue.
Book description from Google Books:
This extraordinary New York Times bestseller reexamines a pivotal event of the civil rights movement—the 1955 lynching of Emmett Till—“and demands that we do the one vital thing we aren’t often enough asked to do with history: learn from it” (The Atlantic).In 1955, white men in the Mississippi Delta lynched a fourteen-year-old from Chicago named Emmett Till. His murder was part of a wave of white terrorism in the wake of the 1954 Supreme Court decision that declared public school segregation unconstitutional. Only weeks later, Rosa Parks thought about young Emmett as she refused to move to the back of a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Five years later, Black students who called themselves “the Emmett Till generation” launched sit-in campaigns that turned the struggle for civil rights into a mass movement. Till’s lynching became the most notorious hate crime in American history. But what actually happened to Emmett Till—not the icon of injustice, but the flesh-and-blood boy? Part detective story, part political history, The Blood of Emmett Till “unfolds like a movie” (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution), drawing on a wealth of new evidence, including a shocking admission of Till’s innocence from the woman in whose name he was killed. “Jolting and powerful” (The Washington Post), the book “provides fresh insight into the way race has informed and deformed our democratic institutions” (Diane McWhorter, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Carry Me Home) and “calls us to the cause of justice today” (Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, president of the North Carolina NAACP).
The book is rated 4.13/5 at goodreads.com, from 1188 ratings. See 241 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2pJ8ptQ.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2pJkYoY.
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A nature book recommendation: The Remedies by Katharine Towers

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2ctf48v.
She writes with a marvellously gentle wit and a metrical intelligence. I particularly love her poem Chaffinch.
Book description from Google Books:
Katharine Towers’ second collection, The Remedies, is a book of small wonders: from a house drowning in roses to crickets on an August day, from Nerval’s lobster to the surrealism of flower remedies, these poems explore the fragility of our relationship with the natural world. Towers also shows us what relationship can aspire to be: each poem attunes us to another aspect of that world, and shows what strangeness and wonder might be revealed when we properly attend to it. The result is a lyric, unforgettable collection which offers just the spiritual assuagement its title promises – and shows Katharine Towers developing into a major poetic talent.
The book is rated 4.00/5 at goodreads.com, from 23 ratings. See 2 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2cteLuw.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2sr4Yce.

A nature book recommendation: Upstream: Selected Essays by Mary Oliver

A critic review (source Star Tribune) can be read at: http://strib.mn/2ffdKqI.
Hold “Upstream” in your hands, and you hold a miracle of ravishing imagery and startling revelation.
Book description from Google Books:
One of O, The Oprah Magazine’s Ten Best Books of the Year!  The New York Times bestselling collection of essays from beloved poet, Mary Oliver.   “In the beginning I was so young and such a stranger to myself I hardly existed. I had to go out into the world and see it and hear it and react to it, before I knew at all who I was, what I was, what I wanted to be.”  So begins Upstream, a collection of essays in which revered poet Mary Oliver reflects on her willingness, as a young child and as an adult, to lose herself within the beauty and mysteries of both the natural world and the world of literature. Emphasizing the significance of her childhood “friend” Walt Whitman, through whose work she first understood that a poem is a temple, “a place to enter, and in which to feel,” and who encouraged her to vanish into the world of her writing, Oliver meditates on the forces that allowed her to create a life for herself out of work and love. As she writes, “I could not be a poet without the natural world. Someone else could. But not me. For me the door to the woods is the door to the temple.”    Upstream follows Oliver as she contemplates the pleasure of artistic labor, her boundless curiosity for the flora and fauna that surround her, and the responsibility she has inherited from Shelley, Wordsworth, Emerson, Poe, and Frost, the great thinkers and writers of the past, to live thoughtfully, intelligently, and to observe with passion. Throughout this collection, Oliver positions not just herself upstream but us as well as she encourages us all to keep moving, to lose ourselves in the awe of the unknown, and to give power and time to the creative and whimsical urges that live within us.
The book is rated 4.24/5 at goodreads.com, from 2555 ratings. See 450 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2dJKX8H.
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A nature book recommendation: They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel

A critic review (source Financial Times) can be read at: http://on.ft.com/2eNslFu.
Brooklyn-based author and illustrator Brendan Wenzel evokes the styles of painters as diverse as Van Gogh, Henri Rousseau and Seurat to create a picture book that stimulates the imagination and shows how art and perception are both influenced by emotion.
Book description from Google Books:
A 2017 Caldecott Honor BookA New York Times bestseller★”An ingenious idea, gorgeously realized.” —Shelf Awareness, starred review”Both simple and ingenious in concept, Wenzel’s book feels like a game changer.” —The Huffington PostThe cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears, and paws . . .In this glorious celebration of observation, curiosity, and imagination, Brendan Wenzel shows us the many lives of one cat, and how perspective shapes what we see. When you see a cat, what do you see?
The book is rated 3.99/5 at goodreads.com, from 6067 ratings. See 680 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2eNoato.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2sMWlJe.

A nature book recommendation: The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy by Michael McCarthy

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2qLk2R3.
“The Moth Snowstorm” is an inspiring book, and I salute McCarthy for his boldness. Rather than the dire, dry statistical projections often heralded to make the case for conservation, he turns boldly to joy — to imagination and emotion.
Book description from Google Books:
A great, rhapsodic, urgent book full of joy, grief, rage and love . . . A must-read’ Helen Macdonald, author of H is for Hawk Nature has many gifts for us, but perhaps the greatest of them all is joy; the intense delight we can take in the natural world, in its beauty, in the wonder it can offer us, in the peace it can provide – feelings stemming ultimately from our own unbreakable links to nature, which mean that we cannot be fully human if we are separate from it. In The Moth Snowstorm Michael McCarthy, one of Britain’s leading writers on the environment, proposes this joy as a defence of a natural world which is ever more threatened, and which, he argues, is inadequately served by the two defences put forward hitherto: sustainable development and the recognition of ecosystem services. Drawing on a wealth of memorable experiences from a lifetime of watching and thinking about wildlife and natural landscapes, The Moth Snowstorm not only presents a new way of looking at the world around us, but effortlessly blends with it a remarkable and moving memoir of childhood trauma from which love of the natural world emerged. It is a powerful, timely, and wholly original book which comes at a time when nature has never needed it more.
The book is rated 4.03/5 at goodreads.com, from 159 ratings. See 31 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2s4EMHf.
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A nature book recommendation: Razor Girl: A novel by Carl Hiaasen

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2dJjSW5.
Carl Hiaasen’s irresistible “Razor Girl” meets his usual sky-high standards for elegance, craziness and mike-drop humor. But this election-year novel is exceptionally timely, too.
Book description from Google Books:
“When Lane Coolman’s car is bashed from behind on the road to the Florida Keys, what appears to be an innocent accident is anything but (this is Hiaasen!). Behind the wheel of the offending car is Merry Mansfield–the eponymous Razor Girl–so named for her unique, eye-popping addition to what might be an otherwise unexciting scam. But, of course–this is Hiaasen!–the scam is only the very beginning of a situation that’s going to spiral crazily out of control while gathering in some of the wildest characters Hiaasen has ever set loose on the page. There’s the owner of Sedimental Journey–the company that steals sand from one beach to restore erosion on another…Dominick “Big Noogie” Aeola, the NYC mafia capo with a taste for the pinkest of sands…Zeto, the small-time hustler who gets electrocuted trying to charge a Tesla…Nance Buck, native Wisconsinite who’s nonetheless the star of the red neck reality TV show, “Bayou Brethren.”..a psycho who goes by the name of Blister and who’s more Nance Buck than Buck could ever be…the multimillionaire product liability lawyer who’s getting dangerously–and deformingly–hooked on the very product he’s litigating against…and Andrew Yancy–formerly Detective Yancy, busted to Key West roach patrol after he beat up his then-lover’s husband with a Dustbuster–who’s convinced that if he can just solve one more murder on his own, he’ll get his detective badge back. That the Razor Girl may be the key to his success in this deeply ill-considered endeavor will be as surprising to him as anything else he encounters along the way–including the nine-pound Gambian pouched rats getting very used to the good life in the Keys… “–
The book is rated 3.83/5 at goodreads.com, from 9174 ratings. See 1358 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2eDUnDz.
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