The Last Cold Place, by Naira de Gracia

Staff Pick

The reality of five months at an Antarctic research camp is constant wind and cold, cramped and damp cabin quarters with four other people and wet socks hanging from the ceiling. It’s a shower every two weeks and no days off.  But it’s also magical snowscapes, “a momentary rainbow” in sunlit sea foam, penguins with personality to spare, the privilege of holding seal pups absorbed in REM dreams, and much more. Demonstrating how “wonder is the fire behind” so much science, de Gracia found her own wonder only increasing as she tirelessly counted, weighed, measured, “pumped,” and banded chinstrap and gentoo penguins during a summer at Cape Shirreff. Her account is as beautiful as it is brutal, showing us twilight’s “dramatic, angled shadows,” elaborate penguin pebble nests (and the bowing ceremonies that accompany their construction), and the fledglings leaping into the sea--but also penguin chicks devoured by skuas, fur-seal pups snatched by leopard seals, a yearly decrease of ice and, most threatening of all, unstable krill populations. To a future field technician, de Gracia warns “you will probably be heartbroken.”

The Last Cold Place: A Field Season Studying Penguins in Antarctica By Naira de Gracia Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982182755
Availability: Coming Soon—Pre-Order Now
Published: Scribner - April 4th, 2023

Orchid Muse, by Erica Hannickel

Staff Pick

Hannickel, a master gardener and environmental historian, combines her two skills for an inspiring and fascinating book about that most mysterious plant: the orchid. As her weave of history, research, and hands-on experience demonstrates, there is much more to these "little divas" than their flowers. Telling stories of both the plants and the people who sometimes went to great risks to find, grow, and love them, Hannickel spins a compelling narrative that spans continents and centuries, gives us glimpses of other cultures, and shares tips on choosing, handling, and raising orchids, making this both a delightful read and a practical companion.



Orchid Muse: A History of Obsession in Fifteen Flowers By Erica Hannickel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393867282
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - December 20th, 2022

The Jewel Box, by Tim Blackburn

Staff Pick

On any given night, the light box on Blackburn’s London roof attracts members of some 50 species of moths, and even more when on his Devon house. These treasures include clouded-bordered brindles, springtails, puss moths, pale mottled willows, lime hawk moths, and many others. Blackburn, a founder of macroecology, is as intrigued by the “tiny poems” of these creatures’ names as he is by questions of why these particular species (out of England’s pool of roughly 900) in these particular numbers turn up where and when they do. To find out, he uses tools ranging from behavior and genetics to niches and competition to community ecology, a region’s carrying capacity, rates of emigration and immigration, climate change, and much else. His meticulous investigations are as technical as they are lucid and enthusiastic and yield many surprises—such as that the population fluctuations of the notorious gypsy moth may boil down to—acorns. His book takes you on a field trip you'll never forget.

The Jewel Box: How Moths Illuminate Nature’s Hidden Rules By Tim Blackburn Cover Image
ISBN: 9781642832730
Availability: Coming Soon—Pre-Order Now
Published: Island Press - May 16th, 2023