June 22nd, 2005


More treasure!

Another of my special orders arrived at work today: Bird Brains : the Intelligence of Crows, Ravens, Magpies and Jays, by Candace Savage. I read this when it was originally published and it's been living in the "must buy that one day" section of my brain ever since. The Hotlist that I was proofreading a couple of weeks ago included a forthcoming book by Savage, which reminded me of "Bird Brains" yet again ... happily 'twas still in print, so I decided to order it quick, before I forgot/it went OUT of print. It's a beautifully illustrated fun read about the counting abilities of crows (they not only can count, they can deduce number sequences) and the teenage gangs of magpies, among other things. Since I live in a place that has all four species, it is, IMHO, essential reference material. :-)

I also bought an unusual book I'd spotted on our discount shelves a few days ago ... I operate on the theory that if I'm still thinking about it a week later, it's a worthwhile purchase, while if I forget about it overnight ... well, forgotten means I didn't really want it. The discount shelves house many oddities that we can't return to publishers (sometimes they've been incorrectly processed and sometimes a library receives an unprocessed book and decides, upon seeing it in RL, that it isn't suitable for their collection) and they're usually ridiculously low in price. Today's little gem is Dr. Ikkaku Ochi Collection, edited by Akimitsu Naryyama: an incredible collection of Japanese medical photographs taken between 1868 and 1911. Most are definitely not for the squeamish, but the history of medicine is one of my fascinations and I am, fortunately, pretty much immune to squeamishness. Aside from a few pages of introductory text (in English and in German), the book is completely made up of uncaptioned photographs (there is an inserted slip of paper directing the reader to a web site for more info and captions, which I'll definitely have to investigate) ... there are a few pairs of before and after surgery photos, but most of the images are simply a chronicle of diseases, anomalies, and injuries, many of which we no longer see due to improved medicines, surgeries, vaccinations, and therapies. Definitely a book to make a person feel thankful for 20th and 21st century medicine.