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13 May 2022
Callan reviews the debut book by volcanologist Robin George Andrews. It details the diverse eruptive histories of Kilauea, Yellowstone, Ol Doinyo Lengai, the oceanic ridge system, our Moon, the planets Mars and Venus, and the cryovolcanoes of the outer solar system moons.
6 May 2022
Underfoot: A Geologic Guide to the Appalachian Trail, by V. Collins Chew Published in 1988 by the Appalachian Trail Conference, this volume is a very AT-focused look at east coast geology. It’s also out of date, and a little hand-wringing when it comes to making clear conclusive statements about the arc of geologic history. The summary of geologic events is written for the beginner, not the professional. There’s lots of …
21 March 2022
Callan reviews nine books in a big batch – some geoscience, some anthropology, some fiction, some natural history. Something for everyone!
2 February 2022
Callan reviews a new book about endangered species and ecosystem recovery in various parts of Europe.
18 January 2022
Katie Mack is the incoming Hawking Chair in Cosmology and Science Communication at the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ontario. She has written an excellent book about the end of the universe, The End of Everything. In it, she explains with wit and insight, four different ways the universe could die. I read it a year after I took an introductory astronomy course, and found that it both covered similar terrain …
14 January 2022
Six reviews of recent reads, both fiction and nonfiction, most worth your time.
12 January 2022
Callan reviews a book which sets out to perform a comprehensive accounting of submerged lands through the lens of science, but also with an anthropological emphasis on memory and memory’s longer-lived but more flamboyant cousin, mythology.
30 December 2021
Callan reviews Scottish author David Farrier’s nonfiction exploration of humanity’s signatures on the geologic record.
6 November 2021
While my son takes banjo lessons downtown, I stroll Charlottesville’s walking mall and browse the bookstores. Last week, I dropped $40 at one of the used-book stores, walking away with an armful of volumes. Most were intended for my son (a voracious reader in addition to being banjo-philic), but on the shelf I also saw a trade paperback copy of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, by Annie Dillard (1974), a book …
16 June 2021
A few more books I’ve read recently…. Why Fish Don’t Exist, by Lulu Miller An interesting volume by NPR’s Lulu Miller – a philosophical biography of the first president of Stanford University, the fish biologist David Starr Jordan, mainly, but also an autobiography of key moments in Miller’s own life. At first, she looks to Jordan for inspiration – how does this man keep going after a series of awful …
14 June 2021
I just finished an excellent insider account of the Flint water crisis, written by the pediatrician who brought it to the attention of the wider world. Mona Hanna-Attisha practices medicine in Flint, has a background in environmental activism, and happened to be good friends with a specialist in the management of municipal water systems. An evening’s conversation between Dr. Mona (her preferred name) and her friend ends up launching her …
29 May 2021
It’s been a while since I’ve checked in with you on recent reads. I managed to read a few volumes over the course of the disjointed, stressful fall semester. Here are a few of the highlights: How to be an Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi An important book that explores racism in its many, many forms, structured around Kendi’s reflections on his growth as a person. The “memoir” aspect of …
16 May 2021
A review of Andy Knoll’s newly-published book, “A Brief History of Earth: Four billion years in eight chapters.”
20 February 2021
Jess Phoenix first came onto my radar when she ran for Congress in 2018. Since that time, and thanks to Twitter’s ability to connect geologists, Jess and I co-hosted a 2019 Pardee Symposium on geoscience communication at the GSA annual meeting in Phoenix, Arizona. Jess stepped in at the last minute to cover for Iain Stewart, who was unable to be there due to a family emergency. Like Iain, Jess …
16 February 2021
Stereotypically, I think of anthropologists as scholars who head off into years-long sojourns embedded with indigenous peoples, learning their cultures, practices, and insights. Vincent Ialenti has shown me that modern anthropologists can study other groups too. Ialenti’s population of interest is a modern group of European geoscientists, nuclear engineers, and planners. Together, they are charged with planning for the integrity of a Finnish nuclear waste repository. But studying this group, …
14 February 2021
Elizabeth Kolbert’s third book is now out! Under a White Sky is “a book about people trying to solve problems created by people trying to solve problems.” These problems are environmental problems – they are instances of nature becoming less natural. As humans build cities and plant crops and make waste, we alter the world we live on, the ecology we live within. In Kolbert’s previous book, the Pulitzer Prize-winning …
18 January 2021
Four recent reads: on starts, near-future technology, fictional far-future adventure, and the geology of the Archaean Eon.
11 August 2020
Callan reviews two well-written books about of enigmatic creatures of the deep: eels and lobsters.
15 July 2020
A few recent reads, reviewed: Record of a Spaceborn Few, by Becky Chambers The third science fiction novel in the Wayfarers series, this piece examines the culture of the Exodus Fleet, a group of big spaceships that contain most of the human population of Earth, running their own society with a principle idea being that they run a self-sufficient operation, meeting the needs of their populace in place, and running …
6 May 2020
You might think that the last two months would have been a good time for reading, given the social isolation and stay-at-home orders. But that hasn’t worked out to be the case for me. The stresses of the pandemic, new and different work responsibilities, new homeschooling responsibilities, ongoing textbook writing and an impending move for my family have all conspired to gobble up my time, and there’s been very little …