Kraken: the Curious, Exciting, and Slightly Disturbing Science of Squid
Every time I've told people that I've been reading a book about squid and other cephalopods over the last few days, I've been met with weird looks. "Why?" has been everyone's question. And indeed, why choose to read Wendy Williams' Kraken: the Curious, Exciting, and Slightly Disturbing Science of Squid.
My answer: research purposes. I was interested in various cephalopods for a world-building project I'm working on, and so went looking for an adult book on them at the library. Well, either the library or on Amazon. Wherever I started, it led me to the library and Williams' book.
Right from the beginning, I was hooked. Williams' voice was perfect, keeping my interest with her facts, all the while weaving in the story of Julie Stewart's research of the Humboldt squid. I'll admit, I was a bit worried that the science would overwhelm me (as I have felt in a couple of the books I have started reading but have yet to finish). But luckily, high school biology seems to have come to my rescue (however I managed to remember this stuff is a bit of a mystery...), coupled with my more recent studies in psychology. Between the two I managed to follow along rather well with the science of squid.
There were a few things that I found quite surprising. While being very different from us, cephalopods (and squid in particular), have given us great incite into how our own brains work. Even more impressive, much of this incite has come quite recently, the last forty or so years. One squid, Loligo pealei, is a tiny creature with a very large axon; that axon is much bigger than a human axon, making it much easier to study. Thanks to that squid, and stronger microscopes, we have been able to see exactly what happens within an axon.
But beyond the brain stuff, the whole book was filled with interesting things about cephalopods. From their colour-changing skin to their puzzle-solving abilities, this was a perfect introduction to them for me (who had very little knowledge of them prior to reading this book). My one issue is that I often had a hard time keeping the researchers straight - Williams went back and forth between them (and there's quite a lot of them)! But other than that, I really enjoyed reading Kraken.
*As of September 24/15, I am not taking any more requests from authors to read their books. I currently have too many books to read. I'll update this if/when that changes.*
I currently have 164 fiction books just sitting in my room to read (although that doesn't stop me from randomly picking books up at work or buying them on Kindle!). I've been keeping track of them on a paper list for years. This blog shares what I read as I attempt to get "the List" down to a more manageable number.
If you'd like to know what books are on the List, check out my Goodreads shelf devoted to them - it's my physical list digitized! I've also got a shelf for every book I've reviewed here on this blog.
Not everything I review here is actually on the List. Some books come from the library, some books are nonfiction (which are not included on the List), some books are on my Kindle (which have never been included on the List), and some books are given to me by friends and family.
Note: as of April 12/14, I am not going to add the *spoiler* warning I used to when I'm giving away details of books. I want to talk about the books I've read in whatever detail I'd like. So if you haven't read a book I'm reviewing, you might not want to read the review.