Hello, my nonfiction-reading friends! Although the organization in the second half still drove me a little crazy, I found myself enjoying the book more. I’ve also really enjoyed the great conversation in the google doc. Chatting with everyone about this read has really made me think! Here are the questions I thought it would be fun to discuss while reading the second half. The link-up for discussion will be open through the end of the month. And don’t forget to stop by tomorrow to find out what book we’ll be reading in October!
- Did you learn anything from this book that surprised you?
- Have you ever participated in any citizen-science projects, such as bird counts?
- Are human-driven extinctions inherently bad or unnatural? As Kelly asked in our discussion, should this be considered natural selection?
- Do you think that programs attempting to keep otherwise extinct or nearly extinct animals alive in zoos are worthwhile?
- Were you surprised the author’s conclusion was so bleak?
- What did you think of the book overall?
I’ve decided to start sharing my answers with the questions but I’ll put them below, after the link-up, so that you can answer before reading my answers if you want.
- I already knew most of the big picture stories the author shared, but I was a bit shocked by how bad some things were. What actually surprised me the most though were some of the large scientific studies being performed. The one where every tree over acres of land had been catalogued – crazy!
- I’ve done a tiny bit of citizen science, including The Great Backyard Bird Count once and some allowing my computer to be used for protein folding through Folding@Home.
- I have a very visceral emotional response to people wiping out animals, whether they’re adorable large animals or tiny animals we haven’t even identified yet. At the same time, I’m not sure that people should be considered any different than any other force in the world. I also think some of our attempts to restore animals could be just as meddlesome as our actions that cause extinctions. For instance, do we ever want to release animals that are in zoos but extinct in the wild? At that point, are they invasives? I guess the bottom line is that I think human-driven change is inevitable, but I still can’t quite reconcile myself with human-driven extinctions.
- I’m not sure about this one either. I love the idea of people decades from now still being able to interact with any animals we do drive extinct. However, the cost of some of ways we try to keep species from going extinct seem insane given the number of people in need around the world. And as I said in the last question, what happens with these animals later? If we can’t re-release them, why are we keeping them around? And can we justify re-releasing them at the expense of other animals?
- I was kind of surprised that the author jumped right to saying individuals can’t do anything about the trajectory we’re on. I think talking about political activism would have been worthwhile and would have made the book less of a downer!
- Haha, I hate to end on a downer myself, but for all that I liked this book, it just didn’t live up to the quality of other Pulitzer Prize winning books I’ve read (The Emperor of All Maladies, Toms River). The chapters each told a fascinating story, but they were completely disjointed; the writing was nothing to write home about; and the information was mostly not new to me. However, that only sounds so negative because I was holding this book to a very high standard. I did end up enjoying it and the fun facts about many different animals made for great reading.