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12 January 2022

Worlds in Shadow, by Patrick Nunn

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.

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30 December 2021

Footprints: In search of future fossils, by David Farrier

Callan reviews Scottish author David Farrier’s nonfiction exploration of humanity’s signatures on the geologic record.

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6 November 2021

Revisiting Tinker Creek

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 …

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16 June 2021

Book report

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 …

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14 June 2021

What the Eyes Don’t See, by Mona Hanna-Attisha

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 …

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29 May 2021

Book report

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 …

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16 May 2021

A Brief History of Earth, by Andrew H. Knoll

A review of Andy Knoll’s newly-published book, “A Brief History of Earth: Four billion years in eight chapters.”

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20 February 2021

Ms. Adventure by Jess Phoenix

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 …

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16 February 2021

Deep Time Reckoning, by Vincent Ialenti

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, …

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14 February 2021

Under a White Sky, by Elizabeth Kolbert

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 …

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