Unseen City: The Majesty of Pigeons, the Discreet Charm of Snails & Other Wonders of the Urban Wilderness

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9781623363857: Unseen City: The Majesty of Pigeons, the Discreet Charm of Snails & Other Wonders of the Urban Wilderness
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It all started with Nathanael Johnson’s decision to teach his daughter the name of every tree they passed on their walk to day care in San Francisco. This project turned into a quest to discover the secrets of the neighborhood’s flora and fauna, and yielded more than names and trivia: Johnson developed a relationship with his nonhuman neighbors.

Johnson argues that learning to see the world afresh, like a child, shifts the way we think about nature: Instead of something distant and abstract, nature becomes real—all at once comical, annoying, and beautiful. This shift can add tremendous value to our lives, and it might just be the first step in saving the world.

No matter where we live—city, country, oceanside, or mountains—there are wonders that we walk past every day. Unseen City widens the pinhole of our perspective by allowing us to view the world from the high-altitude eyes of a turkey vulture and the distinctly low-altitude eyes of a snail. The narrative allows us to eavesdrop on the comically frenetic life of a squirrel and peer deep into the past with a ginkgo biloba tree. Each of these organisms has something unique to tell us about our neighborhoods and, chapter by chapter, Unseen City takes us on a journey that is part nature lesson and part love letter to the world’s urban jungles. With the right perspective, a walk to the subway can be every bit as entrancing as a walk through a national park.

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"For days, I was reading passages from 'Unseen City' aloud and repeating my new discoveries to whoever would listen. But this is more than a trove of facts: it's a model for city living. Nathanael Johnson's curiosity is contagious--an irresistible call into the wild world waiting just steps away on the sidewalk. I loved this book." -Robin Sloan, author of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore"This delightful book reminds us it doesn't matter where you see nature; it's seeing nature that matters. A great addition to any city dweller's library." -Eugenia Bone, food journalist and author of Mycophilia

"A delightful romp through the lives of species we humans (without irony!) dismiss as 'invasives'--and a very funny guide to how we in fact create our cities together with creatures and plants we barely see or acknowledge. Nathanael Johnson is now officially one of my favorite storytellers." -Jenny Price, Urban Ranger and author of Flight Maps

"Curiosity is one of the most appealing of human qualities, and the best thing about Unseen City isn't that Johnson has it -- it's that he makes it infectious.  Anyone can take a close look at snails -- or weeds or squirrels or ginkgos -- but Johnson, in smart, gentle prose, will make you wonder why you never did." -Tamar Haspel, Washington Post columnist

"It might seem odd at first to have a book about the wonder of nature focusing on those familiar backyard nuisances such as pigeons and snails. But as Johnson eloquently demonstrates, if we miss what is close at hand we miss something special about what it means to be alive."-Mark Lynas, environmental activist and author of The God Species

"The city is alive with life, crazy with biodiversity we hardly ever notice. Nathanael Johnson set out to show his daughter the wonder all around her, and here he shares that gift with you. Charming, insightful, and eye-opening - this is a book that'll rekindle your love of nature, and have you looking at your own city with fresh eyes." -Ramez Naam, author of The Nexus trilogy

About the Author:

Nathanael Johnson is the food editor for Grist. He lives in Berkeley, California.

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Book Description Rodale Press Inc., United States, 2016. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. It all started with Nathanael Johnson's decision to teach his daughter, Josephine, the names of every tree they passed as they walked up the hill to daycare in San Francisco, CA. It was a ridiculous project, not just because she couldn't even say the word "tree"yet, but also because he couldn't namea single one of them. When confronted with the futility of his mission, his instinctive response was to expand it, Don Quixote style, until its audacity obscured its stupidity. And so the project expanded to include an expertise in city-dwelling birds (the raptors, the shockingly shrewd crows, the gulls, the misunderstood pigeons), rodents (raccoons, rats, squirrels), and tiny crawling things (the superpowers of snails, the vast intercontinental warfare of ants). There's an unseen world all around us. There are wonders that we walk past every day without noticing. Johnson has written a book that will widen the pinhole through which we see the world. What does the world look like through the eyes of a peregrine falcon, or a raccoon,or an ant? What does a sidewalk Gingko balboa "see?" What would you learn each morning if you understood how to speak pigeon? If we look closely enough, Johnson believes that the walk to the subway can be just as entrancing as a walk through the forest. Each chapter allows readers to follow the author, his wife, and his daughter as they search for meaning in urban nature. Seller Inventory # AAS9781623363857

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Book Description Rodale Press Inc., United States, 2016. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. It all started with Nathanael Johnson's decision to teach his daughter, Josephine, the names of every tree they passed as they walked up the hill to daycare in San Francisco, CA. It was a ridiculous project, not just because she couldn't even say the word "tree"yet, but also because he couldn't namea single one of them. When confronted with the futility of his mission, his instinctive response was to expand it, Don Quixote style, until its audacity obscured its stupidity. And so the project expanded to include an expertise in city-dwelling birds (the raptors, the shockingly shrewd crows, the gulls, the misunderstood pigeons), rodents (raccoons, rats, squirrels), and tiny crawling things (the superpowers of snails, the vast intercontinental warfare of ants). There's an unseen world all around us. There are wonders that we walk past every day without noticing. Johnson has written a book that will widen the pinhole through which we see the world. What does the world look like through the eyes of a peregrine falcon, or a raccoon,or an ant? What does a sidewalk Gingko balboa "see?" What would you learn each morning if you understood how to speak pigeon? If we look closely enough, Johnson believes that the walk to the subway can be just as entrancing as a walk through the forest. Each chapter allows readers to follow the author, his wife, and his daughter as they search for meaning in urban nature. Seller Inventory # AAS9781623363857

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