An Immense World:
How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us
by Ed Yong –
2022 / 481 pages
read by author 14h 17m
Rating: 8.5 / zoology
I read very few books about zoology much less the specifics of the animals’ senses. I don’t watch nature shows. I’m just not an animal person. Cats are okay and birds are interesting but in general, no.
But I read the books my reading groups pick – the groups selections often broaden my scope and deepen my awareness. This is a good thing or I might get lazy and read only best-selling thrillers. (Sorry – I can’t get that font to change!)
So with the subtitle of “How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us” I would never have picked this book up off the shelf of my local bookstore or clicked on it at Amazon/ Audible. Nope – But it was nominated and selected as the All-Nonfiction Reading Group’s December discussion book. Okay fine.
It is pretty much what that subtitle says – it’s about animal senses and what they see, hear, feel (as in touch), and smell. The animals are varied from insects to whales and it seems that the human brain, as it is, will never know exactly what it feels like to be a bat. Here’s the original essay by Thomas Nagel published in The Philosophical Review in October 1974 and made available by JSTOR
Yes, Chapter 1 deals with sight, Chapter 2 deals with color, Chapter 3 deals with pain (not a sense but it does spur sensory activity). And so it goes all the way to Chapter 13 which Yong titles “Saving the Quiet, Preserving the Dark and Threatened Sensescapes.” I’m amazed at how the researchers were able to find all this out. And I’m amazed that Yong could explain it.
I have both the Kindle and the Audible editions. The Kindle edition seems a bit bland and dry. Yong’s narration brings it alive.I enjoyed both because sometimes I need to reread a sentence or a paragraph, sometimes I want to do a search for some name or subject. A reader can do that with the Kindle but not with an audio version. (Also, Yong is an excellent reader of his own work – like Merlin Sheldrake, another British scientist- see https://mybecky.blog/2021/08/17/entangled-life-by-merlin-sheldrake/ )
Anyway, I got to Chapter 7 and had to take a break which ended up lasting about 2 weeks. Then I picked the book up again and went slowly for a couple chapters, finally finishing on Christmas Eve. Yes. The last couple chapters are some of the best parts of the book dealing with the environment we are changing and expect these creatures to live in.
There’s a lot of info in this book. -enjoy.