Tuesday, October 31, 2006

you never know what knowledge lurks in the stacks...

One of the most difficult parts of weeding is not reading every interesting book i come across, because i am interested in so many different subjects and discover something new to be interested in almost constantly. So these are the two most recent titles that stopped my tasks at hand (of course they're both juvenile titles so they were quick enough reads to not take too much time away from the actual work i had to do): Bedbugs in Our House: True Tales of Insect, Bug, and Spider Discovery by Jennifer Owings Dewey (after reading this i decided to save it for one more cycle even though it had low circ stats--here's hoping) and Poisons in Our Path: Plants that Harm and Heal by Anne Ophelia Dowden (and doesn't she just have the perfect middle name for someone writing about plants? not to mention it's one of my favorite names after my very favorite dearly departed cat who of course was named after the much maligned Shakespearean character)
Anyway, Bedbugs in Our House tells of a childhood fascination with bugs which began with a discovery (foretold by the title) of bedbugs, was encouraged by a science teacher (sounding like a lot more fun than any science teacher than i ever had) who demonstrates survival of the fittest insect in the classroom, and continues in the most interesting of ways. I did have a few quarrels with the book flaps though. One statement " All bugs are insects, but not all insects are bugs." was in direct contradiction with my weeding reading of just a few moments prior. And another describes Jennifer Dewey as the very successful author and illustrator of many children's books (not just bug books) while she claims in the book that her lifelong love of bugs led her to become an entomologist. GRRRR!
Information and anecdote are well balanced in Poisons in Our Path. I consider myself to be rather well informed in herbology and such but i learned quite a bit in this little volume. Dowden throws in a little history and mythology, folklore and medicine, black and white magic, literature and history. Not intended to be comprehensive but quite enjoyable nonetheless. For instance did you know that in the early pioneer days on western prairies "sheep, cows, and goats ate St. John's-wort and were so damaged by its photsensitizing chemicals that they suffered terrible burns from sunlight"? I didn't, call me strange, and you wouldn't be the first, but i like picking up trivial bits of knowledge like that. A wonderful book for Dowden's illustrations alone.

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