As a frequent writer, I know all too well about book reviews. It’s probably a subject to avoid. However, there are times when a book by another author or group of authors comes out that is so good (or bad) that it deserves extra recognition. To this end, I include here some titles that I heartily recommend.
People often ask me about my own favourite books. As an author, books are one of the delights of my life and so it is a pleasure to flag when something special comes along.
Surprisingly, the title of “World’s best bird book” is an easy one to allocate. The various volumes of Handbook of Birds of the World, published by Lynx Edicions in Barcelona, are peerless. They cover basic details of every bird in the world (with beautiful but accurate paintings), and include up to date and highly detailed accounts of every family, enlivened with top-of-the-range photographs. A great deal of stuff in my latest book has been extracted from these volumes. They are pricey, but worth every penny.
At the moment, Lynx have turned their attention to mammals, and are part way through Handbook of Mammals of the World. Their most offering (Volume 4) is a sumptuous treatise on Sea Mammals, including whales, dolphins, manatees and seals (even though
seals, as you might know, are these days considered to be modified carnivores). Every sea mammal species is painted to a high standard, with males, females and variants where appropriate, and the family sections have an incredible selection of photographs (an aerial of Humpback Whales bubble-feeding is my personal favourite). This book, and the series, is the reading equivalent of fine dining. It exudes excellence. If you have 160 euros (remember, that’s one night at a posh restaurant), that will guarantee plenty of long-lasting delight.
- Hardcover: 614 pages
- Publisher: Lynx Edicions (1 July 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-13: 978-8496553934
On a completely different note, I want to recommend Harrap’s Wild Flowers. If ever there was a labour of love it is this exquisite field guide. Selecting the very best and most apposite photographs for identification of plants must have been very difficult, but the author has done it admirably. The book is delightfully designed and has a brief but surprisingly wide-ranging text.
I bought this book on a whim, and now can’t wait for the plant season to start properly so that I can take it out again. Great stuff.
- Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: A & C Black Publishers Ltd (20 Jun. 2013)
- Cost: £16.99
- ISBN-13: 978-1408113608