The best books on invasive species

Many authors have picked their favorite books about invasive species and why they recommend each book.

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Mozart's Starling

By Lyanda Lynn Haupt,

Book cover of Mozart's Starling

I picked up this book when I was writing my book about rape and was immediately reminded about the joys of music and art and birds and all the unlikely connections life has to offer. Mozart wrote music inspired by a starling, and the author, inspired by a baby starling in her own life, followed his story to Europe and back. Most unexpected, most illuminating. Gravity-defying because the Muse follows no earthly laws.

Who am I?

My book is ostensibly about rape. But it’s mostly about breaking out of the way we are taught to think, about turning things inside-out and checking out the hidden parts, about joy and rage and unexpected twists. So I am attracted to anyone who does this: defies gravity, finding monsters in clouds, and salvation in birds.

I wrote...

What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape

By Sohaila Abdulali,

Book cover of What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape

What is my book about?

After surviving gang-rape at seventeen in Mumbai, Sohaila Abdulali was indignant about the deafening silence that followed and wrote a fiery piece about the perception of rape--and rape victims--for a women's magazine. Thirty years later, with no notice, her article reappeared and went viral in the wake of the 2012 fatal gang-rape in New Delhi, prompting her to write a New York Times op-ed about healing from rape that was widely circulated. Now, Abdulali has written What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape--a thoughtful, generous, unflinching look at rape and rape culture.

The New Wild

By Fred Pearce,

Book cover of The New Wild: Why Invasive Species Will Be Nature's Salvation

Fred Pearce, veteran editor of New Scientist, takes on an exploration of what invasive species really are. In doing so, he reveals that many of our engrained opinions regarding these 'exotics' is based on flawed ecology, ecological xenophobia, and ill-founded conservatism. Sure, some invasive species should be fought to save cherished native species from extinction, but Pearce shows us that this should never be the knee-jerk reaction to any immigrant species.

Who am I?

Menno Schilthuizen is a Dutch evolutionary biologist and ecologist with more than thirty years of research experience under his belt, feeling at home in tropical rainforests as well as in urban greenspaces. He writes in a humorous and accessible manner for the general public about the ways in which the world's ecosystems are shifting and evolving under an increasing human presence. He works and teaches at Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden, the Netherlands.

I wrote...

Darwin Comes to Town: How the Urban Jungle Drives Evolution

By Menno Schilthuizen,

Book cover of Darwin Comes to Town: How the Urban Jungle Drives Evolution

What is my book about?

We are marching towards a future in which three-quarters of humans live in cities, and a large portion of the planet's landmass is urbanized. With much of the rest covered by human-shaped farms, pasture, and plantations, where can nature still go? To the cities -- is Menno Schilthuizen's answer in this remarkable book. And with more and more wildlife carving out new niches among humans, evolution takes a surprising turn. Urban animals evolve to become more cheeky and resourceful, city pigeons develop detox-plumage, and weeds growing from cracks in the pavement get a new type of seeds. City blackbirds are even on their way of becoming an entirely new species, which we could name Turdus urbanicus.

Menno Schilthuizen shows us that evolution in cities can happen far more rapidly, and strangely, than Darwin had dared dream.


By Lisa Wells,

Book cover of Believers: Making a Life at the End of the World

Like Lisa Wells, I’ve spent years looking up to many possible heroes in my dream of making the world a better place. So much inspiration out there, and yet all our heroes become flawed the more we learn about them. How to remain hopeful when we find out the truth? Only through poetry, art, beauty, intensity. One of the finest books of the year, impossible to categorize.

Who am I?

I’ve been trying to balance a need to help make the world a better place with my own small expertise as a musician and teacher. So I’ve played music with birds, whales, and bugs, taught philosophy to engineers for decades, written many books and released many albums, and traveled all over the world learning what people are doing to improve things. I need to find words to read that encourage me and lift me out of the looming pull of depressing statistics and real suffering that we all read about every day. I hope change is possible, and I urge everyone to work toward it in their own specific and unique ways.

I wrote...

The Possibility of Reddish Green: Wittgenstein Outside Philosophy

By David Rothenberg,

Book cover of The Possibility of Reddish Green: Wittgenstein Outside Philosophy

What is my book about?

The expression of his eyes remained the same: a cold, piercing sadness. Yet his final words were, "Tell them I had a happy life." This poetic book examines the way Ludwig Wittgenstein has influenced artists and writers beyond his own field, thereby touching on the subject of how philosophy can be relevant at large. Carefully illustrated with work by Leif Haglund, Doug Hall, and Muriel Wood-Ponzecchi, Rothenberg situates Wittgenstein in the age of the soundbite and the artistic fragment, promoting an aesthetic of detachment just as he seeks to find a route through the sea of churning ideas that mark our time.  

The Beekeeper's Handbook

By Diana Sammataro, Alphonse Avitabile,

Book cover of The Beekeeper's Handbook

If you want to keep bees and only plan on buying one “how-to” beekeeping book, then The Beekeeper’s Handbook is for you. Filled with lots of basic information to get you started, this how-to book goes further and also provides in-depth/technical information that you’ll need after you have been keeping bees for a few years and have a strong foundation of beekeeping knowledge, but are still looking for more.  This easy-to-follow handbook has plenty of step-by-step information that will come in handy for beekeepers of all experience levels. If you’re serious about bee-ing a beekeeper, this book is a must-have!   

Who am I?

I am the author of Bee People and the Bugs They Love, an adjunct instructor at the Cornell University Master Beekeeping Program, a master beekeeper, former vice president of the New Jersey Beekeepers Association, and I have written multiple articles featured in the widely circulated Bee Culture Magazine. As president of the Northeast NJ Beekeepers—a position that I held for over a decade—I founded the “Honey Cup," an annual honey tasting competition. I have promoted beekeeping throughout the Northeast by speaking to everyone from school children to gardening clubs and civic organizations, and have led beekeeping seminars across the Northeast and at The New York Botanical Garden.

I wrote...

Bee People and the Bugs They Love

By Frank Mortimer,

Book cover of Bee People and the Bugs They Love

What is my book about?

Who wants to keep bees? And why? For the answers, Master Beekeeper Frank Mortimer invites readers on an eye-opening journey into the secret world of bees, and the singular world of his fellow beekeepers. Buzzing along from hobbyist to expert, Mortimer – aka “Frank the Bee Man” – delivers an informative, funny, and galvanizing book about the symbiotic relationship between bees and the beekeepers who are determined to protect the existence of one of the most beguiling and invaluable creatures on earth.

With a swarm of offbeat characters and un-bee-lievable facts, (did that bee just waggle or festoon?), Frank the Bee Man takes his obsession to the next level, as he is indoctrinated into the millennia-old craft of beekeeping.

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