Thursday, November 7, 2013


I have started reading our last selection of 2013, Feathers: The Evolution of a Natural Miracle by Thor Hanson. Its one of those books that I want to savor since there is so much information, so many exciting ideas, presenting a multi-faceted perspective of the subject, and all written in a very engaging and often humorous first person.  It even has illustrations! So I'm dedicating both November and December to give the book the attention it deserves. Hanson's book
is critically acclaimed, and won the John Burroughs medal, one of the highest honors in nature writing. Here is the back cover copy:

A sparkling history...popular natural history at its best. NEW SCIENTIST

 Feathers are an evolutionary wonder: aerodynamic, insulating, beguiling. From flying dinosaurs to showgirls on the Las Vegas Strip, their story spans hundreds of millions of years--yet has never been fully told.  In Feathers, biologist Thor Hanson details a sweeping natural history of how feathers have been used to soar, attract, and adorn through time.  Enlivened by the author's field experience and wide-ranging research, Feathers is a captivating account of the human fascination with this most enchanting subject.

An illuminating study of an evolutionary marvel  THE ECONOMIST
A winning book about the extraordinary place of feathers in animal and human history WALL STREET JOURNAL
An impressive blend of beauty, form, and function.  NATURAL HISTORY
Thor Hanson's storytelling is enchanced by his infectious excitement...Feathers is a compelling introduction to one of nature's wonders.  NATURE

Dr. Thor Hanson is a conservation biologist, Switzer Environmental Fellow, and member of the Human Ecosystems Study Group.  His books include The Impenetrable Forest: My Gorilla Years in Uganda and Feathers: The Evolution of a Natural Miracle.  In addition to the John Burroughs Medal, Feathers was nominated for The Samuel Johnson Prize.  It also received the AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize and a Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award.  His many media appearances have included NPR's Fresh Air, PRI's The World, and The Current on CBC.  Hanson lives with his wife and son on an island in the Pacific Northwest.  See his website: