“Candid Creatures: How Camera Traps Reveal the Mysteries of Nature” by Roland Keys (John Hopkins University Press, 2016)


We’ve all seen those spectacular National Geographic covers of a leopard at night, or a bird of paradise in full plumage, or an elephant shrew deep beneath the ground doing whatever an elephant shrew does. But how did that photographer get that precise, beautiful shot? Sometimes, actually, often it involves sitting in one place with little movement for a long time until you see the animal you’re trying to photograph. Other times it involves a specially placed camera in a camera trap and when the animal goes by, the camera is activated and takes a number of shots, hopefully capturing that exact one you’ve been looking for.

Candid Creatures is a coffee table book bursting with photos of many different kinds of wildlife, all caught using these camera traps. The photos give a different, lesser seen side to viewing the animals in their natural habitat, where no human is involved. The book provides lots of information on camera traps and creating them, as well as on the different species. The only real lacking with the book is that while the photos are colorful and breathtaking, they are sadly small, and the book could’ve used lots more giant splash pages of these wondrous animals and less words on the page.

Originally written on May 11, 2016 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Candid Creatures from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

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“Life in the Dark:Illuminating Biodiversity in the Shadowy Haunts of Planet Earth” by Dante Fenolio (John Hopkins University Press, 2016)


Ever since we saw our first shot of the great white shark from Jaws we’ve had some animosity about the oceans and the seas of our planet. When it comes to the deep dark depths of this world, that animosity blossoms into outright fear. Just thinking about those strange, alien creatures down there in the dark deeps where things like eyes aren’t even necessary causes one to shiver uncontrollably.

Thankfully, there’s a book called Life in the Dark where the deepnesses of the world can be experienced and enjoyed without dipping a toe in the water.

Life in the Dark is a coffee-table-sized hardcover that immediately entrances and sucks you in like an addictive thriller. The design features glossy black pages that help give a sense of the dark depths of the oceans of our planet. The pictures and photography is spectacular, with incredible detail and color. The book is also packed with information on different fish and watery wildlife from below, showing just how complicated and fascinating nature can get in an ecosystem of darkness with a pressure level that would squash an ordinary person as flat as a pancake.

Originally written on April 2, 2016 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Life in the Dark from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“James Herriot’s Animal Stories” by James Herriot (St. Martin’s Press, 2015)


If you’ve never read any James Herriot (as I hadn’t until I read this delightful book), James Herriot’s Animal Stories is a perfect little volume to begin with, as it’s not too long but offers a very entertaining selection of Herriot’s best and most popular stories.

From the very beginning, the reader is entranced and wrapped up in Herriot’s easy conversational tone about the beautiful Yorkshire dales. He describes the scenery with such life that the reader is automatically transported to northern England in their imagination. While the first few stories involve Herriot sticking his hand up a cow, pig and sheep, he imbues the stories with such enjoyment in what he does, as well as appreciating the reward in helping a suffering animal.

The stories cover the whole farm with pigs, lambs, horses, cows, and even features a moving story about an old dog with eye problems who Herriot performs a simple operation on and the animal is able to spend the rest of his days seeing clearly. The stories are moving and heartfelt, making it easier to understand why Herriot’s writing and stories continue to be so popular.

Originally written on July 29, 2015 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of James Herriot’s Animal Stories from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.