Nomad's Reviews > Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival

Winter World by Bernd Heinrich
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Dec 14, 2011

liked it

I honestly really like non-fiction. I truly beleive that no matter how wonderful the plotline of a book is, it can't hold a candle to the strangeness and the miraculous in real life. Nature, gardening, food and travel writing make me revel in all that real life has to offer. So I began this book with very high hopes. I also went into it with a certain amount of nostalgia as well. I am originally from New England, Rhode Island specfically, and now that I live in San Diego county, autumn and winter are no longer parts of my life. I miss the colder months, the brilliant colors as the leaves turn in autumn, the way snow blankets everything so perfectly in winter. So reading this book, which is set in the forests of Northern New England (Vermont and Maine) brought back a lot of happy memories for me.

The world that is hidden in the snow, the animals who live there, much of it was extremely interesting. The chapters on mammals, everything from mice to bears, the chapters on birds of all sorts, the chapters on winter plantlife and trees were all top notch. I was riveted and felt like I was learning more and more with each page. That is the best sort of non-fiction, when you are learning something, but never feel like you're in a classroom. Bernd Heinrich is also very captivated by his subject and his enthusiasm is a treat. In certain ways he is the shrewd scientist, but in others, he is the small child, out in the snow covered woods overcome with a sense of wonder and the magical. When he lets that side out, it really speaks to the inner child in everyone.

However, there are some bad things, otherwise I would have given this book more stars. For all his wonder, for all the interesting information given on plants, avians, amphibians and mammals... there are three long chapters on nothing but insects. Now, for anyone who is interested in insects, this is great, however for anyone who isn't, and I am not, this part of the book drags. It drags enough that it took me a month to read 3 chapters. It was right in the middle, and the insect chapters weren't spaced out over the course of the book, so I had no choice but to plow on through them. It took a while and it almost made me put the book down and never come back.

I'm glad I did though, because all the chapters after those three were right back to the high level one can expect from a Heinrich book. So if you can get past the tedium of the middle section... I recommend this book. If you don't think you can, I would recommend that you give this book a pass.
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