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Field's Pond Reading Group

Join Joyce Rumery to discuss books and topics that deal with environmental issues.
For more information, contact Joyce Rumery by phone: 581-1655, or email:
Meeting Dates and Titles
While the Bangor Public Library is undergoing renovations, the Field's Pond Reading Group will meet in the Community Room of the Orono Public Library at 6:30 PM on the 2nd Thursday of the month. 

September 11, 2014
Nicholls, Henry. The Galapagos. 2014.

The Galapagos were once known to the sailors and pirates who encountered them as Las Encantadas: the enchanted islands, home to exotic creatures and dramatic volcanic scenery. Henry Nicholls offers a lively natural and human history of the archipelago, charting its evolution from deserted wilderness to scientific resource and global ecotourism hot spot. He describes the island chain’s fiery geological origins as well as the long history of human interaction with it, and draws vivid portraits of the Galapagos’ diverse life forms, capturing its awe-inspiring landscapes, its understated flora, its stunning wildlife and, crucially, the origin of new species. Finally, he considers the immense challenges facing the islands and what lies ahead. Nicholls shows that what happens in the Galapagos is not merely an isolated concern, but reflects the future of our species’ relationship with nature—and the fate of our planet.

October 9, 2014
Greene, Brian. The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos. 2011.

"There was a time when universe meant all there is," writes Greene, but soon we may have to redefine that word, along with our own meager understanding of the cosmos. A theoretical physicist and celebrated author, Greene offers intrepid readers another in-depth yet marvelously accessible look inside the perplexing world of modern theoretical physics and cosmology. String theory opened up a new can of worms, hinting at the possible existence of multiple universes and other strange entities. The possibility of other universes existing alongside our own like holes in "a gigantic block of Swiss cheese" seems more likely every day. Beginning with relativity theory, the Big Bang, and our expanding universe, Greene introduces first the mind-blowing multiplicity of forms those parallel universes might take, from patchwork quilts or stretchy "branes" to landscapes and holograms riddled with black holes.
November 13, 2014
Rosenblum, Mort. Olives: The Life and Lore of a Noble Fruit. 1996.

"Olives," writes Rosenblum, "have oiled the wheels of civilization since Jericho built walls and ancient Greece was morning news." In this delightful and comprehensive account, he tells us about his travels throughout the Mediterranean countries, where the fruit is grown, in search of the olive's history and horticulture. What sparked his interest were some ancient half-dead olive trees on his property in Provence that he wanted to restore to health. The more he learned, the more fascinated he became and now, a connoisseur, he can discriminate between the nuances of different fruits and their oils, some of which are so delicious that they are drunk like liqueurs. Rosenblum's account is rich in details of the characters of growers he met in communities throughout the Mediterranean, where much of their joys and sorrows center around the crops. He learned about the care and nurture of the trees, discovered that the most desirable oils of Crete are now purchased in bulk by foreign companies who mix it with others, making the pure product difficult to find anywhere but in the communities where the trees are cultivated; and he explores the national and international politics that affect the trade.

February 12, 2015
MacKinnon, J.B. The Once and Future World: Nature as It Was, As It Is, As It Could Be. 2013.

Many people believe that only an ecological catastrophe will change humanity’s troubled relationship with the natural world. In fact, as J.B. MacKinnon argues in this unorthodox look at the disappearing wilderness, we are living in the midst of a disaster thousands of years in the making—and we hardly notice it. We have forgotten what nature can be and adapted to a diminished world of our own making. In The Once and Future World, MacKinnon invites us to remember nature as it was, to reconnect to nature in a meaningful way, and to remake a wilder world everywhere. He goes looking for landscapes untouched by human hands. He revisits a globe exuberant with life, where lions roam North America and ten times more whales swim in the sea. He shows us that the vestiges of lost nature surround us every day: buy an avocado at the grocery store and you have a seed designed to pass through the digestive tracts of huge animals that have been driven extinct. The Once and Future World is a call for an “age of rewilding,” from planting milkweed for butterflies in our own backyards to restoring animal migration routes that span entire continents. We choose the natural world that we live in—a choice that also decides the kind of people we are.

March 12, 2015
Hobgood-Oster , Laura. A Dog's History of the World: Canines and the Domestication of Humans 2014.

Canines and humans have depended upon one another for tens of thousands of years. Humans took the initial steps of domesticating canines, but somewhere through the millennia, dogs began dramatically to affect the future of their masters. In A Dog’s History of the World, Laura Hobgood-Oster chronicles the canine-human story. From the earliest cave paintings depicting the primitive canine-human relationship to the modern model of dogs as family members, Hobgood-Oster reveals how the relationship has been marked by both love and exploitation
April 9, 2014
Kolbert, Elizabeth. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History. 2014.

Over the last half a billion years, there have been five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us. Elizabeth Kolbert draws on the work of scores of researchers in half a dozen disciplines, accompanying many of them into the field: geologists who study deep ocean cores, botanists who follow the tree line as it climbs up the Andes, marine biologists who dive off the Great Barrier Reef. She introduces us to a dozen species, some already gone, others facing extinction, including the Panamian golden frog, staghorn coral, the great auk, and the Sumatran rhino. Through these stories, Kolbert provides a moving account of the disappearances occurring all around us and traces the evolution of extinction as concept, from its first articulation by Georges Cuvier in revolutionary Paris up through the present day.
May 14, 2015
Birkhead,Tim and Katrina van Grouw. Bird Sense: What It’s Like to be a Bird. 2012.

Combining a wealth of bird facts with a winning modesty in the face of these creatures' essential mysteriousness, Bird Sense is a richly persuasive volume. This fascinating book has much to teach us, not just about what it means to be a bird, but about the rewards and responsibilities of our coexistence with these wonderful creatures. We'll never know what it's really like to be a bird but Tim Birkhead's readable book takes us as far as science can take us, through an examination of how birds see, hear, smell and taste their world.
June 11, 2015
Rothenberg, David. Bug Music: How Insects Gave Us Rhythm and Noise. 2013.

Do insects sing? Are they nature’s percussion section? Did musical bugs inspire humans to drum, strum, and hum? Professor of philosophy and music Rothenberg believes they do, they are, and they did. With their seemingly endless mathematical noisemaking, insects laid a foundation for human music making. Both tribal drummers and electronic-music composers have drawn from the rhythms of insects. In this report on his encounters with cicadas, crickets, and katydids, the author is both broadly philosophical and highly technical, alternately telling us what insects mean when they sing and, using sonograms and anatomical illustrations, describing in detail how they produce their remarkable sounds. Rothenberg also recounts his playing clarinet and saxophone with insects in the field, on the stage, and in his recording studio.
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