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What I Read In February

Dale E. Greenwalt: Remnants of Ancient Life There is more to fossils than bones and stones. Very rarely. soft tissue is preserved too, and Dale Greenwalt reviews what we can and cannot know about ancient life from the occasional scrap of chitin, cellulose, protein or DNA that niggardly posterity chances to leave behind. DISCLAIMER: I read a proof copy...

The Very Hungry Pupperino

On Monday, the Very Hungry Pupperino ate a sofa. On Tuesday, the Very Hungry Pupperino ate a set of six mahogany dining chairs. On Wednesday, the Very Hungry Pupperino ate a small semi-detached ex-Local-Authority house in Cromer, Norfolk. On Thursday, the Very Hungry Pupperino ate the award-winning Georgian market town of Holt, Norfolk. On Friday,...

What I Read In January

Penelope Fitzgerald: The Bookshop It is 1959, and widowed Florence Green opens a bookshop in the sleepy Suffolk town of Hardborough. Discovering a strain of quiet obstinacy she doesn’t know she has, she ignores or attempts to sidestep the  polite yet determinedly ruthless opposition of a town with minefields of unwritten social rules and hierarchies...

The Last Question

In his 1956 story The Last Question, Isaac Asimov has human beings ask computers of increasing power the Ultimate Question. You know, the one about Life, The Universe, and Everything. And the question goes something like this — HOW CAN THE ENTROPY OF THE UNIVERSE BE MASSIVELY DECREASED? In six scenes, in which humans evolve and their computers get...

It Has Not Escaped Our Notice

This one contributed by my correspondent Professor Trellis of North Wales and received with thanks. Presumably the injunction does not apply to Residents.

Hard of Hearing

While researching a recent tome I discovered much about the wonder that is mammalian hearing. As the so-called mammal-like reptiles of the Triassic shrank, from the size of large dogs to small dogs to cats to mice to shrews, they also changed in shape. The tooth-bearing bone of the lower jaw (the dentary) expanded, kettling the other bones at the back...

My Reads of 2022

In 2022 I consumed devoured read 62 books of various sizes, from slim novels to the multi-volume epic that is Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (which I counted as one book). I haven’t read as many books in a year since records began (2014, in my case), and, perhaps, ever. Perhaps there hasn’t been much to watch on the telly. I doubt if...

What I Read In December

Richard Fortey: A Curious Boy It was the author himself who recommended this book to me, as he said — and I hope, if he reads this, he won’t mind my saying so — that aspects of his book reminded him of me. And it did. It was uncanny. The geeky boy who loved nothing better than to roam the countryside; to spend time alone with collections of fossils,...


You’ll both be aware by now that my recent tome was shortlisted for the Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize for 2022. You’ll recall that my book kept some mighty company, so imagine my surprise and delight when, at a ceremony on 29 November, that it was voted the winner. Please head over to the book’s official website for all the hoopla.

What I Read In November

Frans de Waal: Different A salutary and timely corrective to all those engaged in debates about sex and gender that nothing makes sense except in the light of evolution. Humans are animals, and so are our various itches and scratches. The problem, says distinguished primatologist de Waal, is that humans cannot help but put things into binary categories....

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