Reading Table

animal dialoguesThe best book to grace the reading table in the past few months has been Craig Childs’s Animal Dialogues. It consists of a collection of essays on specific animals, each with a tie-in to a narrative from Childs’s own life. It helps that the author has a knack for telling a good story — nature writing can be dry at times, but he draws readers right in with gripping tales of staring down a mountain lion in the Arizona desert or getting lost in a Colorado blizzard at night. But what really makes the book are the unusual facts he digs up (a mosquito in still air can sense you from over 100 feet away; the ancestral genetic blueprint of the African cheetah is in North America; rattlesnake venom breaks down cell walls the same way cancer spreads through the body and has been used as an effective treatment for some types of cancer) and, more importantly, his ability to transport you to a place that is obscured and forgotten, but which has not entirely disappeared from modern life.