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Self study books?

Ross Koning Koning at ECSUC.CTSTATEU.EDU
Fri Sep 15 10:56:03 EST 1995

At  4:41 PM 9/7/95 -0700, Allyn Weaks wrote:
>I have a background in physics and chemistry, and now that I have a house
>and small yard that I want to turn into a wildlife garden, and a web site
>to proselytize a bit :-), I need to start in on biology and ecology in a
>more serious way.  I'd like to know a good survey text to start with, and
>then good texts to delve deeper into botany, zoology and ecology, and
>whatever else is important.

A range of recent-edition are available, and most publishers
are willing to send examination copies for free.  We use Raven
and Johnson's Biology by Times-Mirror-Mosby Publishers.  I like
Davis, Solomon and Berg better in some ways, and am always looking
for better.  I will have a major search going this year, so I
can revise this for you between now and next summer.

>A friend of mine gave me a copy of Helena
>Curtis _Biology_, 3rd edition, 1979 that looks ok from the table of
>contents, but what do I know?  Is biology changing fast enough that a more
>recent book would be better? (Money is a bit of an issue, text book prices
>being what they are these days.)  If the Curtis book is reasonable, where
>do I go from there?  Especially botany and ecology...

I think Curtis was good, but is now seriously out-of-date.
Yes, biology has made some outstanding progress since 1979,
particularly in genetics and biochemistry.  You really
should get a more modern book.  The cost is less of a
problem if you get examination copies.

>I'd also like some recommendations for good books for non-scientifically
>oriented adults, perhaps at several levels, that are easier and more
>entertaining to read than a text book, but which don't oversimplify to the
>point of nonsense, and which are written by people who actually know
>something about what they're talking about.

I have used Brian Capon's book "Botany for Gardeners"
(Timber Press) and regularly use Bienz's "How and Why
of Home Horticulture" (Freeman).  Both are less expensive
than standard texts and both have enough botany and
"connection" to real-life experience to excite people
outside of biology majors.  The Capon book is under
$20 and is in full color!

If you really want more heavy duty botanical science
I am coming to the conclusion that the best approach
in botany texts is in Botany by Moore, Clark, Stern,
and Vodopich (W. C. Brown).  There are other standard
texts, however, including Mauseth's (Saunders) and
Raven, Evert & Eichhorn's (Worth).

>A definate plus if they're
>written so well that people are likely to get hooked and want to read
>another one.  An example might be _My Weeds_ and _Noah's Garden_ by Sara
>Stein, which are fascinating, wonderfully written, and seem to be
>reasonably correct from the spot checking I've been able to do.  One of
>the not-so-hidden agendas of my web site is to try to get at least a few
>people to make gardening and landscaping decisions (and maybe some voting
>decisions) based on some knowledge rather than purely on emotions and
>marketing droid propaganda, so I'd like to be able to offer a good
>non-threatening general science reading list along with the other stuff.
>Thanks very much.
>Allyn Weaks
>allyn at u.washington.edu
>PNW Native Wildlife Gardening: (under construction)
>  http://chemwww.chem.washington.edu/natives/

good luck!


Ross Koning
Biology Department                     **n**
Eastern CT State University        00    H    00
Willimantic, CT  06226  USA         \    H    /
Koning at ecsuc.ctstateu.edu            \  _H_  /
Phone: 860-465-5327                   \/   \/
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