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The Book of Barely Imagined Beings

A 21st Century Bestiary
Henderson, Caspar (Book - 2013)
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
The Book of Barely Imagined Beings
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From medieval bestiaries to Borges's Book of Imaginary Beings , we've long been enchanted by extraordinary animals, be they terrifying three-headed dogs or asps impervious to a snake charmer's song. But bestiaries are more than just zany zoology--they are artful attempts to convey broader beliefs about human beings and the natural order. Today, we no longer fear sea monsters or banshees. But from the infamous honey badger to the giant squid, animals continue to captivate us with the things they can do and the things they cannot, what we know about them and what we don't. With The Book of Barely Imagined Beings , Caspar Henderson offers readers a fascinating, beautifully produced modern-day menagerie. But whereas medieval bestiaries were often based on folklore and myth, the creatures that abound in Henderson's book--from the axolotl to the zebrafish--are, with one exception, very much with us, albeit sometimes in depleted numbers. The Book of Barely Imagined Beings transports readers to a world of real creatures that seem as if they should be made up--that are somehow more astonishing than anything we might have imagined. The yeti crab, for example, uses its furry claws to farm the bacteria on which it feeds. The waterbear, meanwhile, is among nature's "extreme survivors," able to withstand a week unprotected in outer space. These and other strange and surprising species invite readers to reflect on what we value--or fail to value--and what we might change. A powerful combination of wit, cutting-edge natural history, and philosophical meditation, The Book of Barely Imagined Beings is an infectious and inspiring celebration of the sheer ingenuity and variety of life in a time of crisis and change.
Authors: Henderson, Caspar
Title: The book of barely imagined beings
a 21st century bestiary
Publisher: Chicago ;, London :, University of Chicago Press,, 2013
Characteristics: xix, 427 pages :,illustrations (some color) ;,25 cm
Statement of Responsibility: Caspar Henderson
Notes: Originally published: London : Granta Books, 2012
Contents: Axolotl
Barrel sponge
Crown of thorns starfish
Japanese macaque
Kìrìphá-kò, the honey badger
Right whale
Sea butterfly
Thorny devil
the goblin shark
Venus's girdle
Yeti crab
Zebra fish
ISBN: 022604470X
Branch Call Number: 591.68 H4962b 2013
Copyright Date: ©2013
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (p. 389-411) and index
Subject Headings: Animals Miscellanea Curiosities and wonders Rare animals Bestiaries
Topical Term: Animals
Curiosities and wonders
Rare animals
LCCN: 2012040239
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From Library Staff

(Christopher's fave)

Amazing collection of bizarre animals, gorgeously illustrated, one for each letter of the alphabet. Some really deliciously witty natural history with the bonus of it feeling as if it's an old-fashioned bestiary from the Enlightenment.

Go to a world of real creatures that seem as if they should be made up, that are more astonishing than anything we can imagine. Great combo of cutting-edge natural history, philosophical meditation and wit. A beautiful book to hold and read.

Explore a world of real creatures that seem as though they should be made up--and that are more astonishing than anything we might have imagined.

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Mar 04, 2014
  • KCLSRecommends rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Amazing collection of animals listed in handsome format, hard to believe they're all real! And one for each letter of the alphabet, plus TWO for the often-neglected letter X..!

Jan 29, 2014
  • sess430 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

If you have a background in any of the biological sciences, then this book is like a box of chocolates. Even without such a background the writing is very accessible and entertaining (loved his witty humor). So if you enjoy learning fascinating & sometimes weird details about little-known animals, you'll like this book. The author chose an animal for each letter of the alphabet (from A to Z) & devoted a chapter to it. It also served as a vehicle for him to interweave myth, folklore and meditations on who we (as humans) are & how we imagine our future selves and others who will come after us. This is the kind of book that can be read & enjoyed over & over.


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