Unseen City

Unseen City

The Majesty of Pigeons, the Discreet Charm of Snails & Other Wonders of the Urban Wilderness

Book - 2016
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It all started with Nathanael Johnson's decision to teach his daughter the name of every tree they passed on their walk to day care in San Francisco. This project turned into a quest to discover the secrets of the neighborhood's flora and fauna, and yielded more than names and trivia: Johnson developed a relationship with his nonhuman neighbors.

Johnson argues that learning to see the world afresh, like a child, shifts the way we think about nature: Instead of something distant and abstract, nature becomes real--all at once comical, annoying, and beautiful. This shift can add tremendous value to our lives, and it might just be the first step in saving the world.

No matter where we live--city, country, oceanside, or mountains--there are wonders that we walk past every day. Unseen City widens the pinhole of our perspective by allowing us to view the world from the high-altitude eyes of a turkey vulture and the distinctly low-altitude eyes of a snail. The narrative allows us to eavesdrop on the comically frenetic life of a squirrel and peer deep into the past with a ginkgo biloba tree. Each of these organisms has something unique to tell us about our neighborhoods and, chapter by chapter, Unseen City takes us on a journey that is part nature lesson and part love letter to the world's urban jungles. With the right perspective, a walk to the subway can be every bit as entrancing as a walk through a national park.
Publisher: New York :, Rodale,, [2016]
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9781623363857
Branch Call Number: 591.756 Joh
Characteristics: xxi, 224 pages ; 23 cm


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Jun 18, 2018

The author opens our (and his daughter's) eyes to the nature and wildlife that lives with us in our communities. Chapters examine the pigeon, weeds, the squirrel, bird language, the ginkgo tree, the turkey vulture, ants, the crow, and the snail. A lengthy bibliography points to additional reading on each topic. The book has an alphabetical index.

Dec 04, 2016

A book about things we see (or hear or smell) all the time but most of us pay little, if any, attention to. But they are all important parts of nature, whether we're aware of them or not-AND when we challenge ourselves to slow down and actually focus our attention on them awhile, we find they are also quite fascinating. The author does an excellent job of showing us these other lives all around us. Well worth a read by anyone, you needn't know anything about the subject matter beforehand, it's not a scholarly book.

Oct 19, 2016

A thoroughly delightful read. Recommend for anyone open to looking "past their expectations. When actual seeing pierces the skin of habituation, if only for a moment, it permits a bit of wonder to bleed through. Wonder is the animating ether that allows some lucky few to perceive not just the prosaic, but the most profound laws of the universe at work in the prosaic."

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