Tuesday, March 10, 2015

My favourite book award of the year! The Diagram Prize is awarded to the book with the most peculiar title by The Bookseller, a British trade publication. Normally the books are so obscure and esoteric that I just read about them and chuckle to myself. This year, however, is different. This year we have a record setting three of the nominated books.

Nature's Nether Regions: what the sex lives of bugs, birds, and beasts tell us about evolution, biodiversity and ourselves by Menno Schilthuizen

"What’s the easiest way to tell species apart? Check their genitals. Researching private parts was long considered taboo, but scientists are now beginning to understand that the wild diversity of sex organs across species can tell us a lot about evolution. Menno Schilthuizen invites readers to join him as he uncovers the ways the shapes and functions of genitalia have been molded by complex Darwinian struggles: penises that have lost their spines but evolved appendages to displace sperm; female orgasms that select or reject semen from males, in turn subtly modifying the females’ genital shape. We learn why spiders masturbate into miniature webs, discover she dungflies that store sperm from attractive males in their bellies, and see how, when it comes to outlandish appendages and bizarre behaviors, humans are downright boring. Nature’s Nether Regions joyfully demonstrates that the more we learn about the multiform private parts of animals, the more we understand our own unique place in the great diversity of life." publisher

The Madwoman in the Volvo: my year of raging hormones by Sandra Tsing-Loh

"In a voice that is wry, disarming, and totally candid, Sandra Tsing Loh tells the moving and laugh-out-loud tale of her roller coaster through “the change.” This is not your grandmother’s menopause story. Loh chronicles utterly relatable, everyday perils: raising preteen daughters, weathering hormonal changes, and going through the ups and downs of a career and a relationship. She writes also about an affair and the explosion of her marriage, the pressures of keeping her daughters off Facebook while managing the legal and marital hijinks of her eighty-nine-year-old dad, and a despairing withdrawal to a tiny cabin where she combined wine and Ambien, paralyzing her arm into a claw. In one outrageous chapter, a hormonal Loh finds herself trekking to her preteen daughter’s school to confront a ten-year-old bully half her size. In another she attempts to subsist on only zero-calorie noodles and the occasional fat-free yogurt in a hopeless effort to vanquish added midlife weight." publisher

Where do Camels Belong?: why invasive species aren't all bad by Ken Thompson

"Where do camels belong? You may be surprised to learn that they evolved and lived for tens of millions of years in North America—and also that the leek, national symbol of Wales, was a Roman import to Britain, as were chickens, rabbits and pheasants. These classic examples highlight the issues of “native” and “invasive” species. We have all heard the horror stories of invasives. But do we need to fear invaders? In this controversial book, Ken Thompson asks: Why do very few introduced species succeed, why do so few of them go on to cause trouble, and what is the real cost of invasions? He discusses, too, whether fear of invasive species could be getting in the way of conserving biodiversity and responding to climate change." publisher

In case you are interested, not selected by Halifax Public Libraries in 2014 were:

Advanced Pavement Research: selected, peer reviewed papers from the 3rd international conference on concrete pavement design, construction, and rehabilitation, December 2-3, 2013, Shanghai, China
Divorcing a Real Witch: for pagans and people that used to love them by Diana Rajchel
The Ugly Wife is Treasured at Home by Melissa Margaret Schneider

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