biology · favorites · nonfiction

Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel by Carl Safina – My favorite non fiction book of the year. New favorite author

So often when I recommend a non fiction book I like it because it reads like a novel, and not like a textbook. Although textbooks can provide you with a lot of information, often it’s difficult to retain because it’s just a long list of facts and data and no easy way to have substantial retention.

This author goes above and beyond anything I’ve read from a non fiction book, this not only read like a novel, this read like a poetic work of art. Like, this guy rivals Josiah Bancroft with his use of simile and metaphor, the way he wrote sucked you into the moments he was living. He went to Africa to study with the experts to write this book, and it could not have turned out any better. The goodreads score for this book is 4.4 which is damn impressive, but I’m actually slightly upset it’s not a full 5. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22320456-beyond-words

If you have a love of animals, get this book.

If you’ve ever wondered how unique humans are with their emotions, family relations, problem solving, and intelligence get this book.

If you’ve ever sat and admired Discovery Channel, been at the zoo and stared at the animals wondering what they were thinking or feeling, get this book.

If you’ve studied Ethology (animal behavior) Biology or Zoology and all your life you’ve been told it goes against science to “anthropomorphize” get this book and realize why this is an archaic way of thinking.

If you believe in evolution, you’ll know that nothing just springs out of no where, nature and biology build on itself. Yes, there are random mutations, but they are random mutation for *pre-existing genetic structure*. A mouse will never randomly mutate and have wings for example., it’s not in it’s background dna, it’s not possible. However, sometimes humans are born with tails, because we do evolve from animals that have tails.

So, where did our emotions come from, where did our intelligence come from? It was built off the backbone of evolution, we are not supremely unique in our ability to form bonds with other individuals of the same species. We are not unique in our family ties. We are not unique with our intellegence. We may have capitolized on our large brains in ways other species haven’t, but to assume other animals have *none* of those qualities in any way is ludicrous. It was so taboo for the longest time for any animal behaviorist to suggest there were emotions and feelings in other animals it could be a career ending paper to put forth that maybe we aren’t alone in this.

This book explores what possibilities lie in the brains of other animals, and what evidence we have for intelligence in other species.

Elephants are one of my favorite animals of all time, and this book opens with the author in Africa working with one of the leading experts in the field – she’s been there for over 40 years and has so much experience it boggles the brain. Reading about the herds and how they are structured was so captivating and endearing I was helpless to stop reading, but I wanted to take it slow and absorb every word.

If you’ve never had any of the above interests, pick this book up anyway and find a new passion in life.

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