So I figured it might be a good idea as I role out a brand new show here on Natures Talk Show to give people a little idea of where my interests are. Tune it at the end of the article for more information on the show. As a student of the sciences, my resume would lead a potential listener to think that all I know are fish and aquariums. So, here’s a short list of some of my favorite books for everyone’s’ perusal. In no particular order and without proper citation. My interests are pretty varied, and I’m not listing by my favorites just because I have no favorites. Those of you who have listened to my shows before, know that I’m not one to stand on tradition, so I’m ignoring the standards on citation. If you’re reading the article, you obviously have access to the internet, and can find the books listed without more than the title and author.
One thing I have always found interesting with people, and particularly people who recommend books is that the books usually provide a narrow view of issues. For example, a hard core environmentalist will quote Huxley, Carson, Leopold etc. Hardcore conservatives will tell you about, Limbaugh and Coulter. Very few times will these two sides in particular, but most people who have a set opinion read, or heaven forbid recommend the other side’s books. I’d like to think that I’m able to give things a fair shake in reading lists. I’ve read books by deniers as well as the hard cores. I read science books, politics, history, and others. That being said, I do have my opinions as well, so this list will reflect those. If you really want a list of opposing opinion books I’ve read, I might follow up this article if I get the feedback.
So here ya go… If you are interested based on my thoughts give them a read.
Thermageddon, by Robert Hunter. This was one of the most thought provoking environmental books I’ve ever read. Not really being a spoiler by saying he predicts severe climate change by the year 2030. If you are a doom and gloom environmentalist, this is one of those books that will probably not be too much different than some of what you’ve read, but some interesting stuff none the less. I really appreciated the personal touches Robert Hunter adds at the beginning, as well as the history that he adds to almost every chapter and idea. If you are a climate change denier, I’m sure that you won’t take the time to read it. If by chance you do, I would like to think that again, the historical information that it provides might be of interest and provide some perspective and some new thought. Shortly after reading this, I got into a rather heated debate with my ex-father in law (denier). Needless to say, no opinions were changed, but it felt good. I think I took him by surprise when I threatened his grand-daughters future by saying that in her lifetime she may be fighting for the last can of pork and beans at the local grocery store. But even that wasn’t enough to sway him. Shortly after reading the book, the movie “The Day After Tomorrow” came out as well. Interesting timing.
The Dragons of Eden, by Carl Sagan. I wish Carl Sagan was still alive. I find him fascinating. One of the few scientists of our times to speak his mind relentlessly without worrying about the consequences. Also, one of the few scientists to admit fallibility. In political circles this would be referred to as flip flopping. To a degree as a politician I appreciate “some flip flopping”. To change your ideals based on new facts, or changed opinions is good as long as it isn’t a constant thing. As a scientist it is incredibly refreshing. Way too many stars in the sciences are too stuffy and egocentric to admit when they are wrong. This book is a fascinating deep look into what makes us human, and our potential based on our best tool, our mind. As someone who admits not to be an expert in the field, Sagan’s take is fabulous. Proven wrong by science in a few modern ways, but fabulous none the less. Also written for the layman for the most part which is always fabulous.
Candiru, Life and Legend of the Bloodsucking Catfishes, by Stephen Spotte. I’ve done a show in the past on Natures Talk Show for our Monsters of Nature series on the Candiru. This is an amazing group of fishes, but not as horrific as legend makes them out to be. Again, as a student of the sciences, it’s a terrific look at a group of little known fishes. Unfortunately not written for the layman. Worth a read as a non-scientist, but try to get wrapped up in the graphs and jargon. Read it for the basic info, and anecdotes. Although not involved with the Monsters of Nature series, expect a revisit to my past in the new series in the future.
Jaws, by Peter Benchley. Awesome movie, but a thriller of a book. I wish I read the book first, and I never want to read the book first. Interesting the creative liberties taken in the movie. Not gonna spoil it, but needless to say, different. That’s all I can say here.
White Shark, by Peter Benchley. Not necessarily a sequel, but a gripping under water thriller again. A touch of History, Sci-fi, and gut wrenching suspense.
Don’t Sweat the Small stuff, Richard Carson. One of the proverbial self-help books. A little too religious at times for my liking as a non-believer, but even that can be redirected and made useful if you take the time. Just a page or two at a time insight in how to calm yourself and stay focused. Admittedly I should return my copy to the person who loaned it to me years ago. OOPS! It seems like it all should be common sense, or come easy. Despite this, and having read it numerous times it is hard to apply things in the heat of the moment. For instance, “Every day, tell at least one person something you like, admire, or appreciate about them”. Seems like such an easy idea, but how many of us do it? Or how but one with an environmental angle. “Give up on the idea that more is better”. Again, seems like a no brainer. For instance, I set up a second sink in my bathroom. Why would I need to set up a second sink for about $100? Please refer to the video at the top of this article, now that makes a little more sense doesn’t it? I justified it by saying it uses the water it takes to fill the toilet tank twice, therefore saving water. It also entices my 7 year old son to wash his hands after using the bathroom since the water starts in the sink as soon as you flush. Truth be told, I just wanted it. Is that wrong? I didn’t really follow the books advice.
The Marine Aquarium Problem Solver, Nick Dakin. You really didn’t think that I would completely abandon the aquarium side of things did you? This is the best aquarium book I’ve ever seen! And I’ve read way too many. It’s written for the novice through intermediate or even higher aquarist. I still learn something every time I pull it off the shelf. I particularly love the fish compatibility chart, and the question answer format of the book.
Fish! by Stephen Lundin, Harry Paul, and John Christensen. NO! It’s not really about fish. Another interesting self-help book written for managers, or anyone who wants to be more of a people person. Short, fun read that will hopefully make you effective and energetic at work or home.
The Man who Rode Sharks, William Royal, and Robert Burgess. An exciting thrill ride into the life of a navy man turned shark researcher. Talk about someone who was able to change their way of thinking. Highly recommended for anyone interested in Sharks or just a fun insight into another person’s life. Shows how grass roots efforts and how someone who isn’t necessarily a scientist can still be involved. Shows the birth of Scuba and hands on shark research from a whole new perspective. I have always hated it when people don’t get involved, just because they don’t have the experience. Sometimes all you need is the desire and willingness to get in the water.
The One Minute manager, by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson. Yes another self-help book for managers. But again, can be applied to how you handle every interaction with everyone in your life. Effective communication and feedback, particularly positive feedback is the key. An easy read, and fun style. This book was actually recommended by a life coach I had the pleasure of working with while I was working at the National Aquarium. My coach, Dan, taught me the importance of looking at the aquarium industry as a business despite its’ non for profit moniker. Believe me, it’s a for profit world, just with a tax break!
I hope this short list gives you an idea of who I am, and where I will be taking my new show here on Natures Talk Show. I figure were are all individuals with our own interests and ideas. For instance, I’m more than a fish guy. I’m also a Dad, Husband, Gardener, Sinner, Saint, Motorcycle Rider, SUV owner, Conservationist, Construction worker, and Radio Host for starters. Who are you? If you are reading this, I can make a few assumptions, but are they fair? I want to explore our world on a different level than we have before on Natures Talk show. I want to seek out differing opinions and topics. Tune in Wednesday night’s beginning on October 14th to find out on the opening night of Witness, on Natures Talk Show.
By Ray Owczarzak