Fresh Pond Reading Group
Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation
Our five book selections this year covered a wide range of topics: the seasons, natural history museums, a history of birding, the geology of granite domes, and biographies of people who dedicated their lives to learning about the origins of life.
Autumn: A Season of Change by Peter J. Marchand looked in detail at the numerous strategies used by plants and animals to prepare for winter. We learned that the seemingly simple process of dropping leaves in the fall involves numerous steps and chemical processes, and that many animals experience major physiological changes in the fall – changes on which their survival depends.
Next, in Dry Storeroom No. 1: The Secret Life of the Natural History Museum by Richard Fortey, we explored the labyrinthine corridors of the British Museum, meeting a most eclectic and eccentric assemblage of scientists and traditions.
Scott Weidensaul, in Of a Feather: A Brief History of American Birding, traced the evolution of birding in America from the earliest birders such as John James Audubon, who shot birds in order to examine them, to well-known authors of today’s excellent bird guides, including Roger Tory Peterson.
The descriptions in Tom Wessels The Granite Landscape: A Natural History of America’s Mountain Domes, from Acadia to Yosemite were so poetic and vivid that we found it easy to imagine we were walking through these unique landscapes with Wessels himself.
Our final book selection, Sean B. Carroll’s Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origins of Species, illuminated the humanness, dedication, and suffering of naturalists who searched the world for evidence of life’s origins. Carroll took us from Darwin as he developed his theory of natural selection to current research in the mechanisms of evolution, and he made these extraordinarily dedicated people come alive for us.
Anyone who is interested in Fresh Pond and is willing to commit to an annual reading list of 4 or 5 books about natural history are welcome to become Reading Group members. The group gathers for a potluck supper before each discussion. At the end of the meeting we all look over a list of recommended books and their descriptions; then we vote to choose the next reading selection and the next date. If you are interested in joining, please contact Lance Drane at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lance Drane, Moderator
Fresh Pond Reading Group Record: 2007 - 2016