Aelian’s On the Nature of Animals

A toad can kill just by belching, and the lust of the octopus is blamed for its short lifespan. To produce a mule, the horse owner must give the mare a bad haircut to shame her into having sex with a donkey. The hedgehog is considered a spiteful animal because it urinates on itself when caught, unlike the lynx, who hides its urine until it forms a gem stone.

Such are a few of the many nuggets of animal lore recorded in Aelian’s On the Nature of Animals, a translation of De Natura Animalium by the third century Roman writer Claudius Aelianus, better know as Aelian.

New and forthcoming environmental books (June 2024)

Here’s the latest batch of books to come across our desks — enjoy! The first book is written by the founder of an amazing chicken rescue organization, Sweet Peeps, based in Mobile, Alabama. If you’ve never visited an animal sanctuary (not a zoo) you’re missing out. And you don’t have to go to Alabama to …

Read more

Book Review: Of Cattle and Men: Heavy is the hand that holds the stun gun

There is a conversation, repeated several times, during the powerful novella Of Cattle and Men by Paula Maia, translated by Zoë Perry: “Like they say in these parts: as long as there’s a cow in this world, there will be a man keen to kill it.”“And another keen to eat it,” concludes Edgar Wilson. Edgar …

Read more

Book Review: What a Bee Knows by Stephen Buchmann

In pollinator ecologist Stephen Buchmann’s What a Bee Knows: Exploring the Thoughts, Memories, and Personalities of Bees, the author makes a compelling case for why we need to pay closer attention to bees (and to protect them), offering stories and anecdotes from research and observation that highlight the fascinating lives of these extraordinary creatures.

Book Review: Vesper Flights

by Helen Macdonald Vesper flights is the name of the sunset behavior of swifts, who rise high into the air, out of sight, in order to reorient themselves to the world. Vesper Flights is also the name of a collection of essays by Helen Macdonald, and it, too, is a reorientation to the world, particularly …

Read more

Book Review: Entangled Encounters at the National Zoo

In Entangled Encounters at the National Zoo: Stories from the Animal Archive author Daniel Vandersommers explores the evolution of the National Zoo as well as the far more limited evolution of society’s empathy for the animals within its walls. The National Zoo opened in 1891, thanks in large part to the advocacy of William Temple …

Read more

Book Review: How To Be Animal, A New History of What it Means to Be Human

By Melanie Challenger, (Penguin Books, March, 2021) To call someone an animal is considered a grave insult, but it is also the truth. We, the humans, we are all animals. It’s not something we like to admit, but if Melanie Challenger is correct in her thinking, embracing our animalness will help humanity better deal with …

Read more

Book Review: LETTERS TO MY SHEEP by Teya Brooks Pribac

In Letters To My Sheep, a lovely, thoughtful book comprising sixty-three short chapters, Teya Brooks Pribac, a scholar and multidisciplinary artist who lives in the Blue Mountains of Australia, shares musings, meditations, stories, and insights into the lives of her extraordinary companions.   “You’ll know when you’ve reached happiness,” Brooks Pribac tells us, “because there will be …

Read more

The best environmental books we’ve read in 2023

This is the eighth year that we’ve gathered together a list of our favorite books from the past 12 months. Seeing this list makes me appreciate what EcoLit Books has accomplished over the years — drawing attention to authors and presses you might not read about in the more mainstream publications. But that’s what we’re …

Read more

Book Review: THE HIDDEN LANGUAGE OF CATS by Sarah Brown

Sarah Brown’s The Hidden Language of Cats shares with readers the many varieties of cat communication, from vocalization to tail signals to gazes, and what studies have revealed cats are trying to say to us humans. Unlike dogs, who descended from wolves—a very social species—domestic cats descended from North African wildcats, who are quite solitary. So, says …

Read more

Book Review: Pig by sam sax

Cover of sam sax's poetry book "Pig"; shows an abstract line drawing evoking a pig, on a pink and read background, with a flower in place of an eye.

The first poem in sam sax’s collection Pig concludes with these portentous lines: “in the beginning pig offered its body so the world / might be built & when this world ends, / pig will inherit.” There are a lot of beginnings, endings, offerings, and inheritances throughout sax’s book. Even before this first poem, there …

Read more

Book Review: To get to the other side: Crossings

In Crossings: How Road Ecology Is Shaping the Future of Our Planet author Ben Goldfarb shines a light on the millions of animals who perish on our roads. There are four million miles of paved roads in the US on which a million animals die each year. Goldfarb notes the tragic irony of our road …

Read more

Book Review: OPEN THROAT by Henry Hoke

The narrator of Henry Hoke’s slender, evocative novel Open Throat begins their story with, “I’ve never eaten a person but today I might.” Described by the book’s publisher as a “lonely, lovable, queer mountain lion” whose pronouns are they/them, the lion shares their journey from an urban park to a suburban home to a busy Los Angeles …

Read more

Q&A with Gene Helfman, author of FINS

Gene Helfman, EcoLit Books contributor and author of Beyond the Human Realm, has a new book out — a “novel of relentless satire” and an impassioned defense of sharks. I recently asked Gene about the book and what inspired him to write it. Here’s what he had to say… Tell us about your latest book FINS, …

Read more

Book Review: Three Bears, not Eight

A Review of Gloria Dickie’s Eight Bears: Mythic Past and Imperiled Future In my life I have had the privilege of seeing more grizzlies, more blacks, and more polar bears than I can remember, most at respectable distances but some a bit too close for comfort.  And while I may not be able to recall details …

Read more

Item added to cart.
0 items - $0.00