Wednesday, April 15, 2015

So...whatcha readin'?

My average of a book a day has been seriously damaged by my job. Nothing for it, I suppose, unless I just give up on housework and cooking and do nothing but read while I'm home. Since that is not an option (*sigh*) I'll just keep chipping away at my book piles and continue to order 20 titles at a time from my library. They'll all get read eventually.




How to Raise a Wild Child by Dr. Scott D. Sampson


From the beloved host of PBS Kids’ Dinosaur Train, an easy-to-use guide for parents, teachers, and others looking to foster a strong connection between children and nature, complete with engaging activities, troubleshooting advice, and much more

American children spend four to seven minutes a day playing outdoors—90 percent less time than their parents did. Yet recent research indicates that experiences in nature are essential for healthy growth. Regular exposure to nature can help relieve stress, depression, and attention deficits. It can reduce bullying, combat illness, and boost academic scores. Most critical of all, abundant time in nature seems to yield long-term benefits in kids’ cognitive, emotional, and social development.

Yet teachers, parents, and other caregivers lack a basic understanding of how to engender a meaningful, lasting connection between children and the natural world. How to Raise a Wild Child offers a timely and engaging antidote, showing how kids’ connection to nature changes as they mature.

Distilling the latest research in multiple disciplines, Sampson reveals how adults can help kids fall in love with nature—enlisting technology as an ally, taking advantage of urban nature, and instilling a sense of place along the way. 
 


The Triumph of Seeds: How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses, and Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History by Thor Hanson

We live in a world of seeds. From our morning toast to the cotton in our clothes, they are quite literally the stuff and staff of life, supporting diets, economies, and civilizations around the globe. Just as the search for nutmeg and the humble peppercorn drove the Age of Discovery, so did coffee beans help fuel the Enlightenment, and cottonseed help spark the Industrial Revolution. And from the Fall of Rome to the Arab Spring, the fate of nations continues to hinge on the seeds of a Middle Eastern grass known as wheat.

In nature and in culture, seeds are fundamental—objects of beauty, evolutionary wonder, and simple fascination. How many times has a child dropped the winged pip of a maple, marveling as it spirals its way down to the ground, or relished the way a gust of wind(or a stout breath) can send a dandelion’s feathery flotilla skyward? Yet despite their importance, seeds are often seen as a commonplace, their extraordinary natural and human histories overlooked. Thanks to Thor Hanson and this stunning new book, they can be overlooked no more.

What makes The Triumph of Seeds remarkable is not just that it is informative, humane, hilarious, and even moving, just as what makes seeds remarkable is not simply their fundamental importance to life. In both cases, it is their sheer vitality and the delight that we can take in their existence—the opportunity to experience, as Hanson puts it, “the simple joy of seeing something beautiful, doing what it is meant to do.” Spanning the globe from the Raccoon Shack—Hanson’s backyard writing hideout-cum-laboratory—to the coffee shops of Seattle, from gardens and flower patches to the spice routes of Kerala, this is a book of knowledge, adventure, and wonder, spun by an award-winning writer with both the charm of a fireside story-teller and the hard-won expertise of a field biologist. A worthy heir to the grand tradition of Aldo Leopold and Bernd Heinrich, The Triumph of Seeds takes us on a fascinating scientific adventure through the wild and beautiful world of seeds. It is essential reading for anyone who loves to see a plant grow.



The Gods of Olympus: A History by Barbara Graziosi

"AN ENGAGING INTRODUCTION TO A FASCINATING TOPIC . . . GRAZIOSI NARRATES THE MANY METAMORPHOSES OF THE GREEK GODS WITH HUMOR AND ERUDITION."--The Christian Science Monitor

The gods of Olympus are the most colorful characters of Greek civilization: even in antiquity, they were said to be cruel, oversexed, mad, or just plain silly. Yet for all their foibles and flaws, they proved to be tough survivors, far outlasting their original worshippers. In Egypt, the Olympian gods claimed to have given birth to pharaohs; in Rome, they led respectable citizens into orgiastic rituals of drink and sex. Under Christianity and Islam they survived as demons, allegories, and planets. And in the Renaissance, they triumphantly emerged as ambassadors of a new, secular belief in humanity.

In a lively, original history of mythology, Barbara Graziosi offers the first account to trace the wanderings of these inventive deities through the millennia. Drawing on a wide range of literary and archaeological sources, The Gods of Olympus opens a new window on the ancient world and its lasting influence.