An Immense World

By Ed Yong,

Book cover of An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us

Book description

'Wonderful, mind-broadening... a journey to alternative realities as extraordinary as any you'll find in science fiction' The Times, Book of the Week

'Magnificent' Guardian

Enter a new dimension - the world as it is truly perceived by other animals.

The Earth teems with sights and textures, sounds and vibrations, smells…

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Why read it?

12 authors picked An Immense World as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Up-and-coming science writer Ed Yong explains how animals sense the world. We all know about the five senses (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching). An Immense World examines these plus other fascinating examples, such as sensing electric and magnetic fields.

I love how Yong considers all sorts of quirky, oddball animals. Evolution creates so much diversity, and Yong seems to know how to find just the right organism to illustrate his point.

Whether interested in animals that can hear ultrasonic frequencies or see ultraviolet light, this is the book for you. It is wonderfully written, accessible to all, and a…

Yong is not a scientist himself, but he is an extraordinary writer who steps into the world view of one scientist after another to capture their passion for discovery and their amazement at what they learn and to share that with us, simply and clearly. He does all this with an ear for prose that delights with its ring as well as its content.

One of the messages running through this hard-to-put-down book is how differently and precisely various species adapt to their niche to sense what matters to them most. A key subtext is how much we lose by…

From Carl's list on a life in science or medicine.

In a famous paper, philosopher Thomas Nagel asked, "What Is It Like to Be a Bat?" This book is an attempt to answer, or at least to ask, this question for all kinds of creatures.

Imagine being able to perceive electromagnetic waves, to smell with your feet, to have 200 eyes, or to see the world in slow motion, or fast forward. These are the experiences of other animals, and this is a book about their umwelt, the specific ways different organisms perceive the world.

It is full of fascinating examples and descriptions, and I didn’t want it to…

In this extraordinary book, Yong introduces us to the sensory systems of animals, describing the many astonishing ways in which they smell, taste, see, hear, and feel the world using physical sensations very different from ours.

He challenges us to go beyond our human “sensory bubble,” which perceives only a small fraction of what happens around us, and try to understand the immense world of animals’ sensory abilities.

His elegant prose transforms scientific writing into something close to storytelling; even his footnotes are captivating. This is one of the best nonfiction books I have read this or any other year.

As I said above, I love reading nonfiction about animals, and I think of this book as the animal nonfiction book of the past year. In his typical brilliant fashion, Yong digs into the nitty gritty science of the different ways all kinds of species interpret the world around them with impeccable research and detailed interviews with experts, but at the same time, he also manages to be funny, personable, and conversational in his tone.

Yong explains the concept of “umwelt,” the way the world is experienced by a particular organism, and I can say without a doubt that it…

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be another species. How would you experience the world if you were a dog, a cat, or even a squid? Ed Yong considers these questions in this information packed, easy to read science book.

I found myself getting lost in the world of unusual animals. My favorite? The bay scallop who has dozens of bright blue eyes lining its shell. Yong’s description of the way it might “see” was fascinating.

Fans of Mary Roach will enjoy this exploration of the animal world. I devoured the book whole, footnotes and all!

This was my favorite book of the last year simply because of its “huh” factor. As in, it had been years since I’ve read a book that made me say “huh, wow” or “huh, no kidding” or “huh, that’s amazing!” as many times as this book did.

The book was a gift to read because it made me look at the world with a fresh set of eyes (and other senses). A warning, though: the book is dense. It took weeks to read. If you’re looking for a light-hearted romp, this isn’t…

If you like well-written nonfiction and the natural world as much as I do, this book is for you.

Ed Young is an excellent science writer able to engage readers in a way not too many authors can. This book is mind-broadening, and not just for people fascinated by learning more about other non-human species and their antics, but also for anyone interested in better understanding how other animals see the world with their senses. 

He describes the behavior of a variety of beings, from dogs to cats, from flies to dolphins, and from bats to mice, showing how every…

Ed Yong PROBABLY needs no introduction–but just in case: he is a Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer on the staff of The Atlantic, where he also won the George Polk Award for science reporting, among other honors. His first book, I Contain Multitudes, was a New York Times bestseller.

I was SO grateful to have him live on the Peculiar Book Club show for An Immense World. You don’t smell like a dog (I mean, of course, you don’t understand scent!) You don’t hear like a cat whose ears are still turned on, even in sleep.…

This book took me weeks to read (and I am usually a speed reader!) because it is so dense with facts, photos, vignettes, and stories that I wanted to savor each part and contemplate what it meant. There are dozens of examples in these factoids that gave me pause and caused me to rethink what it means to be “human.” 

I learned what species-ists we all usually are (but Yong is not heavy-handed; I drew my own conclusions) and how dangerously narrow our understanding of animals is (dangerous to us, them, and the entire planet we share). 

Read this…

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