An Obsession With Butterflies: Our Long Love Affair With A Singular Insect

An Obsession With Butterflies Our Long Love Affair With A Singular Insect Sharman Apt Russell again blends her lush voice and keen scientific eye in this marvelous book about butterflies From Hindu mythology to Aztec sacrifices butterflies have served as a metaphor for res

  • Title: An Obsession With Butterflies: Our Long Love Affair With A Singular Insect
  • Author: Sharman Apt Russell
  • ISBN: 9780738206998
  • Page: 292
  • Format: Hardcover
  • An Obsession With Butterflies: Our Long Love Affair With A Singular Insect

    Sharman Apt Russell again blends her lush voice and keen scientific eye in this marvelous book about butterflies From Hindu mythology to Aztec sacrifices, butterflies have served as a metaphor for resurrection and transformation Even during World War II, children in a Polish death camp scratched hundreds of butterflies onto the walls of their barracks But as Russell poiSharman Apt Russell again blends her lush voice and keen scientific eye in this marvelous book about butterflies From Hindu mythology to Aztec sacrifices, butterflies have served as a metaphor for resurrection and transformation Even during World War II, children in a Polish death camp scratched hundreds of butterflies onto the walls of their barracks But as Russell points out in this rich and lyrical meditation, butterflies are above all objects of obsession From the beastly horned caterpillar, whose blood helps it count time, to the peacock butterfly, with wings that hiss like a snake, Russell traces the butterflies through their life cycles, exploring the creatures own obsessions with eating, mating, and migrating In this way, she reveals the logic behind our endless fascination with butterflies as well as the driving passion of such legendary collectors as the tragic Eleanor Glanville, whose children declared her mad because of her compulsive butterfly collecting, and the brilliant Henry Walter Bates, whose collections from the in 1858 helped develop his theory of mimicry in nature Russell also takes us inside some of the world s most prestigious natural history museums, where scientists painstakingly catalogue and categorize new species of Lepidoptera, hoping to shed light on insect genetics and evolution A luminous journey through an exotic world of obsession and strange beauty, this is a book to be treasured by anyone who s ever watched a butterfly mid flight and thought, as Russell has, I ve entered another dimension.

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    One thought on “An Obsession With Butterflies: Our Long Love Affair With A Singular Insect

    1. Andree Sanborn

      From scientific details about butterflies, legends, historical events and people in butterfly history, a visit to a London natural history museum, and a trip to Costa Rica, Sharman wrote a beautifully constructed and personally engaging account of the butterfly's natural history. The story ended too soon for me. My favorite section was the London museum which featured, alongside a history of Henry Bates and Alfred Russel Wallace, a magical Sharman moment as she warily opens butterfly collection [...]

    2. Rebecca Valley

      poetic, varied, scientific but accessible. Russell writes what she loves, and it shows. this book is stunning, and worth more than one read

    3. Catherine

      “I am a child of my time, and I do not see much excess in nature. Passenger pigeons once darkened the sky. Caribou stretched horizon to horizon. Salmon were so thick you could walk across water. This is not the coin of the twenty-first century. We measure our wealth by different standards.”Nor is the author given to excess in her writing, and yet, after turning the last page, I felt strangely replete. More alive to the world, and richer, though not in the coin of our age but in a more subtle [...]

    4. Christine O'malley

      I found this to be very easy to read, and very interesting. There was enough theoretical information to satisfy my research need, but lots of great stories about people who have contributed to butterfly collecting history. I especially enjoyed reading about the way that collecting has led to environmentally friendly new industries, and that communities are establishing sustainable farms to make sure that butterflies remain available to new generations of collectors.

    5. Rachel

      Fascinating. Obviously a book for someone with more than a passing interest in butterflies but two chapters in particular on survival strategies from egg to butterfly and nature's use of colouration were so absorbing that I think even someone who just gives a butterfly a second glance would find interesting and informative. I found myself thinking, 'wow, how amazing!' quite a lot in those particular chapters. Some passages were so fascinating I am going to photocopy them (library book) as I know [...]

    6. Rachel Brown

      I bought this despite not being terribly interested in butterflies because I had been so impressed with another book by Russell, Anatomy of a Rose, despite not being terribly interested in flowers. I was not disappointed.The mimicry or camouflage that works so well against a bird may not work at all against the predatory stinkbug, which has been known to stalk its prey for as long as an hour. Some caterpillars do the obvious. They drop off the leaf and hope for a soft landing. Or they spin out a [...]

    7. William Herschel

      Butterflies. I can't say butterflies captivate me anymore, and the book didn't produce many sparks. As often is the case, I find scientist's enthusiasm and passion more lovely to read about than the actual thing.But the author isn't an entomologist and her writing style is bizarre and unscientific. I wasn't really expecting something too scientific here, but the constant human personification of butterflies really grated on me. And it wasn't as all for being poetic, either, because it was diced [...]

    8. Cabiria Aquarius

      I've always found butterflies to be beautiful and unique creatures. To read about them, learn about them, they are so much more than that. They show how in life there are miracles happening everyday. There are so many species and so many of each, different families. I learned a lot of stuff in this book. I'm glad I randomly decided to look up if my school library had anything about butterflies. :) Butterflies are air and angles.

    9. Steve Comstock

      Informative and poetic. Russell clearly has a passion for her subject and writes with clear prose. I learned a lot about butterflies and the folks who study them, along with many historical curiosities about our winged friends. The notes and bibliography at the end are excellent.

    10. Ann Cooper

      An entertaining, and as far as I can tell, accurate book about the lives of butterflies and moths. Fun, and well written.

    11. Vera

      Russell is not kidding about an obsession with butterflies. She is passionately, head-over-heels in love with them. It often comes across as a strange, almost Mr. Ripley-like love, too. Left alone in the collection room of London's Natural History Museum, she fantasizes about breaking the rules and releasing the pinned tropical butterflies from their drawers; watching them rise into the air and fill the room with color. She frequently imagines herself (or, rather, the reader) as a butterfly, whi [...]

    12. Kelly Brenner

      An Obsession With Butterflies: Our Long Love Affair With A Singular Insect by Sharman Apt Russell, is an excellent book for learning about the life history of butterflies from egg through adult. I was a bit disappointed based on my expectation from the description of the book. I was looking for more information about the connection between humans and butterflies through folklore, art, literature, natural history and collecting. While those tidbits are sprinkled throughout the book, the majority [...]

    13. Nikki

      There is some science you simply shouldn't read while you're eating lunch. I learned way more about frass over food than I wanted to.One chapter was incredibly touching, a sparely written timeline about the lives of two men who are obsessed with the butterflies of coastal California. This chapter is worth the whole book. Unfortunately, this is also the chapter where she used "glamorous southern California" and "El Segundo" in the same paragraph. In the end, I'm not obsessed with butterflies.

    14. Beth

      Two confessions about this book: I bought it after I was charmed by a visit to the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute's short Hummingbird and Butterfly trail, which allowed lush access to both hummingbirds and butterflies. And I was completely romanced, as I am so often with small things, by the intimate size of the hardback volume. Short colorful bursts of text describe the life cycle, mythology and natural history of butterflies. Hard to put this one down.

    15. Kristi Ellingsen

      I wasn't sure what I was entering here as I don't usually read non-fiction cover to cover. I was really refreshingly surprised by An Obsession with Butterflies though. I am used to reading scientific subjects written by scientific writers. Sharman Apt Russell is a storyteller. I learnt a lot about butterflies but loved the stories of the people behind the research. It was an engaging and quick summer read.

    16. Shannon

      I got this book a few years ago on a lark. So I finally decided to read it and found it to be a good read. The author wrote it in a very poetic language which is a nice departure from often droll nature books. It gives an overview of butterfly life stages, diversity, and some of the notable collectors of butterflies. Like a butterfly, it is pretty and light, perfect for reading in the park.

    17. AleishaZolman

      oh. my. I LOVED this book. it is fiction that reads like a story. i learned so much about this insectlorful, not important pollinators, various sizes, wings that fold like a tent when at rest, mostly active during the day and great stories of adaptations like short sporadic flight patterns that make it a hard prey to catch and mimicry. i recommend it to everyone! you can borrow my copy:)

    18. Betsy

      Delightful and introspective.I think this book is a suitable love letter to lepidopterans, addressing why we love them, and providing reasons to love them even more. This made me remember why at age 10 I wanted to study bugs forever. If only one were written about EVERY order (maybe not lice)

    19. Amy

      Wish I'd written this one. I wish the collections manager at the British Museum of Natural History opened the book that housed the first-known insect collection smushed between its pages. Someday I'll see the blue morpho gliding through Costa Rica. Loved this book. Borrowed from the library, then promptly bought it at B&N.

    20. Alyssa

      It's not utterly useless, and it's readable enough, but this book should have much more information than it does and it often comes off as rather condescending. It reads too much like a book intended for children or illiterate housewives.

    21. Handan

      As a lover of butterflies from an early age, I saw this spine while wandering down a library aisle and snatched it. I'm glad I did. The language is fun and enjoyable, but still enlightening. This would be the sort of book I'd want to take to tea or grab a lunch or something of that nature.

    22. Hannah Stowe

      A very entertaining read, this book focused more on the human side of the butterfly-human interactions it mentioned however. Overall a fun, quick, lighthearted read.

    23. Carol

      I'd definitely consider reading other books by this author. I was interested in the subject, but loved the writing style as much as the topic.

    24. Vicky

      Entertaining short chapter essays about different butterflies and their adaptions. Gives me all the more reason to plant native flowers in my garden : )

    25. Penny

      A beautiful addition to anyone's library (and a nice change of pace from what I usually read). If you love language, you'll be amazed by this book, too. Just absorb it.

    26. Raymonds009

      Well, if you like butterflies like I do you will find this both instructive and exhilarating. Many facts and little understood behavior patterns along with some good stories. I hope you like it too.

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