Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Nonfiction Files

The Nonfiction Files is a weekly journal of my adventures reading my toppling piles of nonfiction books. I won't be posting reviews, but rather my thoughts about what I'm reading, while I'm reading it.

I'm joined in The Nonfiction Files by Jehara. If you would like to play along with us, let me know!

My current read: The Big Thaw: Travels in the Melting North by Ed Struzik
published 2009
278 pages

Synopsis from publisher:

Climate changes effects are reshaping the Arctic profoundly. Landscapes are being radically transformed, animal habitats are disappearing, and natural resources are being revealed to an energy-starved world. Veteran Arctic journalist Ed Struzik took eleven trips throughout the north to document this rapidly changing land, gaining unprecedented access to scientific expeditions, native communities and security and sovereignty experts.

The product of those trips, The Big Thaw is the only book that looks at global warmings wide-ranging impact on the Arctic. Struzik goes into the field with the worlds leading polar bear scientist, skis on melting glaciers with glaciologists, travels the Northwest Passage on an aging icebreaker and stalks a carnivorous rogue walrus with an Inuit hunter. His journeys bring him up close to some of the worlds most unique animals, from the iconic polar bear to the mysterious narwhal.

Struzik melds the vivid stories of his experiences with fascinating explorations of the Arctics past from the alligators and giant tortoises that inhabited the north 55 million years ago, to the 19th century explorers who died searching for the Open Polar Sea and its possible future as the center of international struggle, underground smuggling and ecological disaster.

My thoughts:

Well, it was bound to happen - I'd been on such a string of fascinating nonfiction reads that a snoozer was inevitable. For me, that's what this was. I have a couple of ideas about why it didn't work for me - here they are:

1. I hate winter and ice and snow, and this book is all about the Arctic. Yuck. I get that it's beautiful, and a great natural resource, and all that, but I'm getting all set to dread winter here in Iowa - I probably shouldn't have tried to read this book in this season. It just reminded me of all the reasons I'd like to move somewhere tropical for the next 4 months.

2. It was very "science-y" - and by that I mean, lots of stats, not so much story. And even that probably isn't completely fair, because the author does spend a good amount of time talking about where he went, and what he saw, and the people he came into contact with. It just had an overall pervading textbook-ish feel that turned me off.

3. I felt like I already knew most of the information in the book. My husband is a Discovery Channel nut, so we spend a good deal of time watching documentaries, and I think much of the information presented in this book has already been covered, with many more pictures to keep my attention. This probably isn't the fault of the author - he can't help it that my house is a center of learning for all ages.

Really, I think if you are quite interested in the global warming and the fate of the Arctic glaciers and such, you would really like this book. It just wasn't my cup of tea.

Finished: 11/21/09
Source: Wiley publishing group
Rating: 5/10

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