Natural history & science

1891 ‘Standing in the river’

Instructions for a Flood: Reflections on Story, Geography and Connection by Adrienne Fitzpatrick Qualicum Beach: Caitlin Press, 2023 $24.00  /  9781773861128 Reviewed by Catherine Owen * Gentle memories. That’s the descriptor that first flowed over me at the close of reading this short, pared set of reflections on land, water, Indigeneity, history, time, people and…
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1870 Mack Laing in Alaska

Capturing the Summit: Hamilton Mack Laing and the Mount Logan Expedition of 1925 by Trevor Marc Hughes Vancouver: Ronsdale Press, 2023 $24.95  /  9781553806806 Reviewed by Sage Birchwater * When naturalist/cinematographer Hamilton Mack Laing was commissioned by the National Museum of Canada to accompany the expedition making the first ascent of Mount Logan in 1925,…
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1869 Fascinating life, flawed memoir

You Have Been Referred: My Life in Applied Anthropology by Michael Robinson Calgary: Bayeux Arts, 2021 $21.95  /  9781988440705 Reviewed by Kirsten Bell * Many of my anthropological brethren jealously guard the boundaries of the discipline. Although there is no formal registration process for anthropologists, the standard view within most professional associations is that a…
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1827 Sold on the human text

Art + DIY Electronics by Garnet Hertz Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, May 30, 2023 $45.00  /  9780262044936 (paperback) Reviewed by Thomas Girard * Dr. Garnet Hertz new book on DIY culture – Art + DIY Electronics – is a refreshing change from typical academic texts. It has the heft, but without the intimidation of…
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1813 Welcome Trevor and Brett

Welcome Trevor and Brett by Richard Mackie * On behalf of the Board of the Ormsby Literary Society and our Advisory Board I’d like to welcome Trevor Marc Hughes and Brett Josef Grubisic as interim editors of The British Columbia Review for the year May 1, 2023 to May 1, 2024. The position was made possible…
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1804 A purrfectly useful guide

Purr: The Science of Making Your Cat Happy by Zazie Todd, with a foreword by Pam Johnson-Bennett Vancouver: Greystone Books, 2022 $32.95  /  9781771648141 Reviewed by Kirsten Bell * Mark Twain once said that ‘If man could be crossed with the cat, it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat’. This quote highlights…
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1794 Sense of place and self

Remnants: Reveries of a Mountain Dweller by Natalie Lang Qualicum Beach: Caitlin Press, 2023 $26.00  /  9781773861043 Reviewed by Paul Falardeau  * Natalie Virginia Lang is a promising new writer from British Columbia’s Fraser Valley, where she lives in a reclaimed loft on her family’s property on Sumas Mountain. It is from this home base…
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1776 New food for an old planet

Dinner on Mars: The Technologies that will Feed the Red Planet and Transform Agriculture on Earth by Lenore Newman and Evan D.G. Fraser Toronto: ECW Press, 2022 $24.95 / 9781770416628 Reviewed by Eleanor Boyle * Dinner on Mars: A Delicious Thought Experiment I’ve never thought that high-tech inventions would solve the complex problems that bedevil…
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1770 Dissecting the everyday

Silent but Deadly: The Underlying Cultural Patterns of Everyday Behaviour by Kirsten Bell London, UK: Caw Press, 2022 £11.99 (U.K.) / 9781399936323 Reviewed by Tom Koppel Trigger Warning: Skip this review if you are truly offended by offensive language * Kirsten Bell (not to be confused with actress Kristen Bell) got her anthropology training in…
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1765 Cooling our jets

Scrubbing the Sky: Inside the Race to Cool the Planet by Paul McKendrick Vancouver: Figure 1 Publishing, 2023 $28.95  / 9781773272085 Reviewed by Douw Steyn * The strange “naked ape” we are has been on planet earth as a distinct species for about 200,000 years. Most of that time we spent migrating across all continents,…
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1757 Announcing interview series

Announcing the BC Review interview series by Richard Mackie * In November 2022, at the most recent board meeting of the Ormsby Literary Society, the chair, Byron Sheardown, suggested that we open a YouTube channel and start an interview series. Board member Trevor Marc Hughes jumped at the suggestion. “I’ve got filmmaking experience,” he said,…
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1750 Out of the woods

Forest Walking: Discovering the Trees and Woodlands of North America by Peter Wohlleben and Jane Billinghurst Vancouver: Greystone Books, 2022 $24.95 / 9781771643313 Reviewed by Jodi Lundgren * Immerse yourself in a forest and use all of your senses to pay attention, advises Peter Wohlleben in this information-packed guidebook, a follow-up to his best-selling The…
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1748 Life stripped down to the core

Backpacking in Southwestern British Columbia: The Essential Guide to Overnight Hiking Trips by Taryn Eyton Vancouver: Greystone Books, 2021 $24.95  /  9781771646680 Reviewed by Jocie Brooks * I sometimes ask myself why I backpack. There are the usual hardships to endure: a too-heavy pack, swarms of bugs and unexpected bad weather. Months after the trips…
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1717 Quadra Island chronicles

Definitely Not James Herriot: A Memoir, of Sorts by Jocelyn Reekie Campbell River: Peregrin Publishing, 2022 $21.95 / 9781896402208 Reviewed by Valerie Green * Jocelyn Reekie’s small book is a delightful treasure for anyone who loves animals. This short memoir covers Reekie’s life from the time she discovered a passion for animals as a child…
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1698 On Ruskin’s road

Imminent Domains: Reckoning with the Anthropocene by Alessandra Naccarato Toronto: Book*hug Press, 2022 $23.00 / 9781771667753 Reviewed by Graeme Wynn * In the 1870s, John Ruskin, Slade Professor of Fine Art in the University of Oxford, initiated a scheme to improve the rough and muddy path into the village of North Hinksey on the outskirts…
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1671 The Grass Man Cometh

The Sky and the Patio: An Ecology of Home by Don Gayton Vancouver: New Star Books, 2022 $18.00 / 9781554201945 Reviewed by Harold Rhenisch * Two hundred years ago, the Earth was one-fifth prairie, including much of the Okanagan Valley. Now most of earth’s temperate grasslands are gone. In the Okanagan, there are only tiny…
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1669 An essential need

Wired for Music: A Search for Health and Joy Through the Science of Sound by Adriana Barton Vancouver: Greystone Books, 2022 $32.95 / 9781771645546 Reviewed by Derek von Essen * The afternoon Wired for Music arrived in the post was the same day I tested positive for Covid-19. I wasn’t surprised by the result. While…
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