I’ve been on a “friends of the library” sale kick lately. I’m cheap and I’m always gonna find cheap books to read, but the EGR library has been on point lately.
This impulse buy explores how nature intersects with the city, and how the plants and animals in the average American metropolis thrive in urban landscape, all seen through the fresh eyes of the author’s young daughter. It’s a great idea for a book, but it’s too slight a volume for as many ideas as this book hopes to cover.
Reminiscent of Suburban Safari, another deep dive into the flora and fauna of the city dwelling, the book explores pigeons and slugs that we often see without acknowledging, in part because we are so used to them. The author gets fresh eyes to see this world from his toddler, explaining the world we take for granted to her.
The problem is, while I’ve no doubt she was the reason each chapter exists, the wonder of novelty fades quickly, and Johnson cedes his topics to adult boredom before long. I get it as the parent of a toddler myself; it’s hard to stop and smell the roses when you want to start dinner already, dammit! But the whole premise is based on curiosity and it seems to run dry with the introduction of each city animal. There’s plenty of research, but little on what specific questions observation has prompted Johnson to want answers to. Sure we know more about pigeons and their sense of direction, but little about why this was worth researching in the first place other than that pigeons are in every city.
Not a bad book, but I could’ve done with more of an exploration of a city, with more specificity – in short, more of the curiosity that brought this book into being to begin with.