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The Future Eaters
by Tim Flannery

Here is the book that is mentioned in Spotlight, Issue 187.

The Book on the Bookshelf
By Henry Petroski

An Reference Editor's Choice.  Says that editor:  When Henry Petroski's "The Book on the Bookshelf" first landed on my desk, I was dubious. "An entire book about bookshelves? Sounds about as exciting as the history of the paper clip." An evening perusing the book soon made me change my mind. Petroski's charming and erudite history of book storage is really an analysis of our drive to categorize and store information for quick access. And as Petroski clearly shows, when it come to our quest for knowledge, we humans can be amazingly resourceful.   Say Melanie and Mike: We were mesmerized by this book and spent quite some time with it in the book store, so fascinating was it!  It's not etymological but it is so interesting that we had to recommend it.

Do Fish Drink Water?

Spanning a spectrum from useful to bizarre to downright comical, this amusing, amazing Internet Q & A ranges form a language to geography to medicine to simply off the wall. As the official Webmaster for Xerox, Bill McLain is responsible for handling all mail from Do_Fish_Drink_Water.gif (9638 bytes)Xerox's external Web site. However, he was quickly surprised by the kinds of questions he was receiving, questions like whether people born blind can see in their dreams, where the lowest point on Earth is, and why rabbits are associated with Easter.  

In a move that brought national attention from MSNBC, CNN, and People magazine, McLain began to answer each and every question he received. The result -- collected in Do Fish Drink Water? --is a surprising, funny, and informative collection of facts. McLain even explains the origin of the Christmas tree, what caused the Great Depression of 1929, and how to properly eat an Oreo cookie. He can even tell you why cats purr!  

McLain's answers -- often as wild as the questions -- prompt entertaining anecdotes about where he found them, and how he's played a role in inventions, long-delayed reunions, and even a marriage or two. He also provides an extensive list of Web sites where he conducts research, offering an informative guide to making the most of the Internet.  

*Although fish do drink water, their primary method of obtaining fresh water is through osmosis. The water seeps into their body through tiny holes in their skin.

The Oxford Companion to the Year
by Bonnie Blackburn and Leofranc Holford-Strevens

No, this isn't a book about the year 2000.  It is, instead, a companion to the general calendar.  "The Oxford Companion to the Year" is one of those splendid volumes that should have a permanent place in every personal reference library, next to a well-thumbed Brewer's. The main body of the book gives a huge amount of historical and folkloric information on every day of the year (including, yes, February 30, which has happened three times); the days of the week, months, and seasons; and the major feast days and festivals in a wide variety of different cultures. This is the section that most readers will find the most fascinating; its 658 pages provide endless browsing. The second part concentrates on the making of calendars over the centuries: how our own complex calendar evolved with its irregular month lengths and its rules for when leap years occur, plus details of the calendars of many other cultures--Chinese, Hindu, Muslim, and many more--all trying to find a regular system that can cope with the fact that the roughly 29-and-one-half-day lunar month and the roughly 365-and-one-quarter-day solar year simply can't be meshed.  Bonnie Blackburn and Leofranc Holford-Strevens must be congratulated on the huge amount of work this book must have taken, and on such splendid results. 

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Last Updated 10/09/06 07:57 PM