Teaching Evolution

A blog devoted to teaching evolution, both in our schools and in our communities.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Book Recommendations

I have two books to recommend today, both of which look at evolution in interesting ways that textbook studying would miss.

The first is The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan. The book explores four plants: apples, tulips, marijuana, and potatoes. With each plant, it discusses how human beings have played an important role in the plant's evolution, but also how the plants have affected human beings and in some ways forced humans to help them thrive. Among the many fascinating things I learned in this book is that John Chapman, the man better known as Johnny Appleseed, was actually interested in apples not because he wanted to spread a healthy fruit but because they could be turned into hard cider. For more on the subject, check out an interesting entry in the Straight Dope.

My second recommendation is Evolution's Workshop: God and Science on the Galapagos Islands by Edward J. Larson. The best chapter tells us about what Darwin saw in his trip to the Galapagos, but the whole thing is worth reading for its examination of the island chain at the center of evolutionary thought. I previously discussed another of Larson's books here.

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