The Rational Animal: How Evolution Made Us Smarter Than We Think

Douglas T. Kenrick and Vladas Griskevicius (Basic Books)

Many of my friends wring their hands over the failure of so many evangelical Christians to acknowledge the insights of evolutionary science. I share their frustration, if not their degree of angst—but what about (on the other hand) the Evolutionary Explainers of Everything? Consider, for example, Douglas Kenrick and Vladas Griskevicius, who routinely say things like this: "Finally, if you find yourself really wanting something you can't afford, ask yourself a deeper question: What evolutionary need is this purchase attempting to fulfill? The answer will often come back to one of seven subselves." Indubitably.

Pterosaurs: Natural History, Evolution, Anatomy

Mark P. Witton (Princeton University Press)

Speaking of evolution, I've been smitten with pterosaurs ever since my younger brother and I saw (and heard) ads on TV, around 1957, for the movie Rodan. And then there was Arthur Conan Doyle's novel The Lost World. If you share a more-than-casual fascination with what Mark Witton describes as "the diversity and sheer awesomeness of everyone's favorite leathery winged reptile," I have the book for you. Beautifully laid out, clearly written, loaded with handsome illustrations, Witton's book invites you to dip in for delicious tidbits or hunker down for the equivalent of a superb lecture series.

In the Kettle, The Shriek

Hannah Stephenson (Gold Wake Press)

"We talk to people / through our fingers, a typed out / stage whisper aimed at one / listener or all. The @ sign / is conversational, shows how / words can be loosed deliberately, / shows our hand steadying the arrow / of speech." Hannah Stephenson is a good listener and an all-around good noticer, as you can confirm for yourself by getting a copy of her first book of poems. The one I have just quoted from is titled Psalm Dot Com. Among my other favorites are Sanity Prayer, Drownding, Enchanted/Haunted, and the title poem.

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