Rodents roam in the underbelly of cities all over the world, and in this peculiar little book the author sets out to examine rodent life in perhaps on...moreRodents roam in the underbelly of cities all over the world, and in this peculiar little book the author sets out to examine rodent life in perhaps one of the most prolific rat infested cities in America: New York. Out of morbid curiosity and the need for some inexpensive escapist airplane reading material, I decided to give this book a try. Face it, rats are disgusting disease ridden vermin so I recognize reading about them can evoke repulsion, fear, and disgust. But rather than focus exclusively on the urban rat life, the author weaves in stories of politics, architecture, labor unions, obscure historical figures, everyday people, and of course rodent control professionals. It turned out to be an interesting and fun diversion from the usual. (less)
Outstanding book. It is an unrivaled moment in baseball history, the longest game ever played, by an author who captured the essence of the event, the...moreOutstanding book. It is an unrivaled moment in baseball history, the longest game ever played, by an author who captured the essence of the event, the game, the place, and everyone involved in this unique moment in time. Great books transform you into the scene and involves you in such a way that makes you feel like you are there. The author adeptly weaves in the back stories of the people involved in the game - everybody including the spectators, players for both teams, their families, the bat boy, radio announcers, statisticians, et al - with the telling of the story of the game that is seamless and almost effortless in its flow. If you have ever been to a baseball game or watched a baseball game whether it is little league or major league, you know in your heart these are precisely the emotions and conversations and experiences that go on every day. Page turner start to finish. Kind of like the game itself, reading it was like being suspended in time and while I didn't want it to end it does, of course, and getting there was entirely glorious.
I won this book on a goodreads giveaway. It was the game winning grand slam on my scorecard, and now I am putting it rotation for my friends to enjoy. (less)
I enjoyed this lively little book about the history of cod. What could seem like an obscure topic for a history book turned out to be an entertaining...moreI enjoyed this lively little book about the history of cod. What could seem like an obscure topic for a history book turned out to be an entertaining and very informative narrrative about a species of fish that has sparked war, shaped international political discourse, impacted diverse cultures, markets, and the environment. The author did a good job of weaving in odd little facts within the larger discussion. Seems a bit ironic that he would lamment the near extinction of the fish while simultaneously offering up cod recipes. The book really focuses on the North Atlantic cod, and he gives only brief mention to Pacific cod toward the end of the book. The relative history focuses on the Nordic waters so it makes sense, but I expected a little more about the Pacific fishing dynamic. In contrast with Salt: A World History by the same author, which I read last year, the flow in Cod was much more organized and overall I found it to be a better book. Both books the author has a tendancy to follow a tangent in the middle of a story, but he gets back to his point, you have to wander with him from time to time to get there. Overall well written and enjoyable. Pictures and drawings are few but very helpful. (less)
I picked up this book at the encouragement of a friend and out of mild intrigue over the subject matter. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and as kid...moreI picked up this book at the encouragement of a friend and out of mild intrigue over the subject matter. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and as kids my parents took us clamming and crabbing when we vacationed along Hood Canal and the Olympic Peninsula. We dug little steamer clams in Hood Canal, razor clams along the Pacific beach, and Dungeness crab in the Straight of Juan de Fuca. Like other types of fishing and hunting, digging clams requires a license. Wildlife agents are sometimes out and about and the last thing you want is to get busted for not having your license or getting more than your limit or harvesting the wrong size or at the wrong time of year - that could mean a hefty fine and your catch confiscated. And then what would we have for dinner? We always bought our license, took care to note where and when you could dig, harvest limits, recorded our catch, and reported it to the state at the end of the season. It's what you are supposed to do. We never went after geoduck but we sometimes bumped into people who had them, and they are sometimes displayed at the Pike Place Market so I've seen them up close. They are obscenely large, ugly, and a little mysterious. They are so big they look like they would be tough, and not taste that good. A rarity, apparently some people find them a delicacy.
So could an entire book about an oversized clam be that interesting? I have been getting into reading microhistories, and a quick read about local lore, why not. This book however turned into something completely unexpected, and after reading the first few pages I was hooked. More than a book about an ugly clam, this is a full fledged mystery about smugglers and wildlife poaching and the international commodities black market trade. I had no idea the ugly mollusk was subject of so much demand, or that there even was such a thing as geoduck poaching. Seriously? I'm always a little amazed at the plethora of sea life that lives in the Pacific Northwest waters, and I appreciate the culinary attraction of anything hauled out of these waters, but the geoduck - who knew? The author, an environmental and wildlife journalist for the Seattle Times, does a superb job of telling the story of the little known geoduck smuggling operation in Puget Sound and surrounding waters. This is much more than a story about cutting the middle man out of the food distribution market, but reads like a page-turning thriller. It's just that it's all true. Great story, thoroughly researched, lively story line. I found myself gasping out loud at some sections and not wanting to put this down. Start to finish I thoroughly enjoyed this book, fascinating story.(less)
One of the most unusual topics for a book and that I would never have expected to pique my interest. In fact, I found the topic fascinating and it cov...moreOne of the most unusual topics for a book and that I would never have expected to pique my interest. In fact, I found the topic fascinating and it covered a topic that concerns us all. It is written with humor and intelligence, thoroughly researched, and well-written. The author gives us a lot of great detail and illustrates her findings in a provocative and thoughtful way. It is not a straight chronology like you might expect from other evolutionary social histories. Her examples are from systems and customs all over the world and she does a nice job of contrasting how different cultures treat the big unmentionable. She didn't just resesarch her topic from the confines of a writer's hideaway, nope. She traveled to some of the more unseemly locations to get a firsthand view. Would you crawl into a sewer in Manhattan? Exactly.
I found this book informative, entertaining, and alarming. "Disease spread by bodily waste kills more people worldwide every year than any other single cause of death." Yikes. (less)
Would give this a 3 1/2 star rating if there was such a thing. The writing style bounced around a bit too randomly among time periods for me so it los...moreWould give this a 3 1/2 star rating if there was such a thing. The writing style bounced around a bit too randomly among time periods for me so it lost its cohesion. The subject matter was fascinating however and in the end I learned a lot about the only rock that we eat, the mystery of this earthly commodity, the customs of its usage, and how the science has evolved in relation to its properties, production, and distribution. I particularly like the way the author highlighted odd little facts about salt to tell the story of its history. During the course of reading this I would get cravings for pickled herring, corned beef, Tabasco, Indian food, anything with capers in it, tuna, anything with soy sauce in it, and a few dozen other delicacies! I'd say the author did a fine job conveying an image if baccala even sounds enticing! (less)