During the summer season, I gravitate toward books in the nature and travel category; this June, there are three books I would like to call out for special attention. The first is the latest masterpiece from Robert Macfarlane, Underland, but I’ll let our contributing editor, Gregory McNamee, tell you about that one in his interview with Macfarlane in this issue.
On June 11, Ruth Kassinger will publish Slime, a “fun and fascinating deep dive into the natural history, current uses, and vast potential of algae.” As she did in her previous book, A Garden of Marvels, the author dives into a little-discussed area of the natural world to deliver a consistently entertaining and informative book. “Never one to shy away from getting her hands dirty,” writes our reviewer, “Kassinger traveled around the world to interview researchers and see for herself how algae may help save coral reefs, curb climate change, and produce eco-friendly plastics.” The author also touts the benefits of algae as a possible source of sustainable energy.
Also on June 11, geographer Jacob Shell, a professor at Temple University, will publish Giants of the Monsoon Forest, an exploration of how “the fate of Asian elephants raises important questions for conservationists.” Traveling through the wild forests near the border of Burma and India, the author viewed firsthand the importance of these elephants to both the ecosystem and the economy of the region. As he notes, more than a third of the roughly 40,000 animals in the region are used for labor, and though animal rights activists “argue that elephants should live in the wild, Shell points out that with little effective protection, their habitat is vulnerable to deforestation.” In fact, “to those who see only a ‘picture of domination,’ Shell makes a persuasive case that the reality is complicated” in his “insightful look at a rare cross-species relationship.” Eric Liebetrau is the nonfiction and managing editor.