Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone by Juli Berwald (4 out of 5)

Stefan from Penguin brought this in a stack of advances several months back. He was VERY enthusiastic about it, so I put it into the living room coffee table pile and moved on. Until my colleague Seth told me he was done with it and he loved it. Seth has good taste in books, so I figured it was worth a shot. I’m not normally a reader of scientific, aquatic, or wildlife books of any type. It’s just not in my wheelhouse. I’m happy to say this was a most notable, and enjoyable, exception. It’s being released on November 7, 2017, and brought to us by Riverhead Books. 

Juli Berwald is a former ocean scientist who makes it her mission to find out about jellyfish. Yes, jellyfish. I won’t lie and say I lost hours of anticipation over this title sitting on my table. But let me tell you…I REALLY ended up eating my words on that front. I simply could not get enough of the book and I was drawn in. The only part I wasn’t getting into was how often Berwald ends up in the narrative; that’s the only reason this did not get a five star review. As a wake-up call to the masses about the state of our oceanlife and the planet at large, it is an absolute win. Berwald sees the environment and our precarious ecosystem balancing on a precipice and she decides to dive in head first. She travels the globe to meet scientists and see more of the unassuming, complex jellyfish in its natural habitat. Berwald really envelops herself into the world of the jellyfish, who look and seem to be a sedentary presence in everyday oceanlife, but the little devils are VERY busy hehind the scenes, toppling ecosystems and fisheries all over. Berwald tests her theories in myriad and entertaining ways, which may or may not include raising them in her own living room. I will tell you that you are compelled to keep reading, and you are compelled to care. Berwald makes a strong case for jellyfish and their importance to the long-term outlook of the ecosystem and oceanlife. If you give a shit about the planet we live on, you owe it to yourself to read this book. And get others to do so as well! 

~ by generationgbooks on September 14, 2017.

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