Reading the Western Landscape March/April 2011

The Reading the Western Landscape Book Group met March 2, 2011, to discuss In a Desert Garden: Love and Death Among the Insects. Below is a summary of the questions that were brought up for that book and a preview of the book that will be discussed on April 6 at 7:00pm.

Previous book selections can be found here and future selections here.
Previous Book
March 2011 – In a Desert Garden: Love and Death Among the Insects

In a Desert Garden: Love and Death Among the Insects, by John Alcock; New York: W.W. Norton ©1997.  Find it at your local library.
From Booklist: Biologist Alcock calls Arizona home, and that is where he tends a desert garden that provides a working laboratory for observing and appreciating insect behavior. Alcock's limitless curiosity about all manner of bugs propels his latest book–beginning with the story of how he converted an unappealing front lawn area into a minidesert environment. Although Alcock makes no bones about mosquitoes that cause malaria and other dreaded pests that color the way most of us see insects, he nevertheless has written an ode celebrating those small creatures. Whether commenting on the fascinating mating rituals of various mantids, spiders, and beetles, or wondering at the camouflagic accomplishments of grasshoppers, butterfly larvae, and caterpillars, Alcock writes with a wry humor that appears as well in reflections on growing vegetables and cultivating compost. Graced with lively line drawings and color photographs, Alcock's engaging, illuminating text offers delightful reading for all who appreciate the natural world. Alice Joyce
Specific questions for this book include:

Which of his insects made the biggest impression on you?  Why?

Did the insects make you think anything differently about humans?  What?

There seemed to be an emphasis on procreation in the book.  Do you think that was just the author’s point of view or is that the overriding question of insect behavior? And does that reflect on other animal life? 

He seemed inordinately interested in his vegetable-insect interactions.  Did that draw in the city or accentuate the lost of the desert? Or show how desert insects can adapt to vegetable production even in the desert?

After reading this book have you paid more attention to the insects that surround us? What have you noticed?

What about his writing helped tell the stories?

After reading this book have you paid more attention to the insects that surround us? What have you noticed?

Next Book

April 2011 – A River Runs Through It, and Other Stories

Discussion on Wednesday, April 6, 2011, 7:00 p.m.
A River Runs Through It, and Other Stories, by Norman Maclean; Chicago: University of Chicago Press ©1976.  Find it at your local library.
From a review: “[Maclean] would go to his grave secure in the knowledge that anyone who'd fished with a fly in the Rockies and read his novella on the how and why of it believed it to be the best such manual on the art ever written–a remarkable feat for a piece of prose that also stands as a masterwork in the art of tragic writing.” (Philip Connors Nation)
For more information about the Reading the Western Landscape Book Group and to RSVP, please contact the Arboretum Librarian, Susan Eubank, at 626-821-3213 or via email.

© 2014 Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden • 301 North Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007 • Website Design by Kirk Projects.

© 2014 Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens

301 N. Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA, 91007

Site Design by Kirk Projects