Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Deb enjoyed The Glass Room by Simon Mawer (the audiobook)

Jefferson Mays narration of Simon Mawer's family epic begins in pre-WWII Czechoslovakia. As the Landauer's build their dream house, political events unfold which threaten their home and their lives.  Mays' voice reflects the tension of people whose homeland is about to be torn apart, whose fears include impending pogroms, work camps and Nazi occupation.  The house, built as a "modern house adapted to the future rather than the past, to the openness of modern living" remains standing in stark contrast to unfolding world events.


Friday, July 6, 2012

Gifts of the Crow

The Gifts of the Crow: How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds to Behave Like Humans
     by John Marzluff, Tony Angell (Illustrator)


 Suddenly a crow turns his head, caws softly, and glides away, landing on a lamppost directly above a blonde woman. The woman, Lijana Holmes, smiles and calls him "Bela" as she offers him a breakfast of eggs and meat, which she prepares daily. Five-and-a-half years ago we captured Bela and affixed light plastic rings to his legs for identification. So whenever he sees us, the old crow cocks his head, stares, takes flight and swoops low--right at us--screaming a harsh call that we immediately recognize as a bird scold. His family and neighbors hear the cry and join in, flying toward Bela to support his attack, and soon they, too, share his rage. The mobbing crows circle and scream above our heads just as they would do to a predator. Bela's discriminating actions give us remarkable and invaluable information, proving that crows can recognize and remember human faces. We wonder when, or if, he will ever forget (or forgive) us. The gifts of the crow are physical, metaphorical, and far-reaching.

 Although packed with the latest research this is far from a dry academic tome.  Instead the authors use plenty of anecdotes which will keep you fascinated.  You will be amazed at just how smart these social birds are.