Book Review: Underground Lovers – Encounters with Fungi

by Alison Pouliot, NewSouth Publishing, University of NSW Press Ltd 2023 

Review by NSW NPA Environmental Book Club 

Pouliot is an enthusiastic and knowledgeable writer whose life work is studying fungi. Underground Lovers introduces us to this amazing world. Previously we may have been astonished by unexpected encounters with beautiful or weird fungi in the bush or our gardens. We’re probably aware that fungi do important work in complex ecosystems but may not know much more. She introduces us to the basic facts about the different types and their role in recycling and networking in the ‘subterrain’ of plant communities. She champions the study of this third ‘kingdom’ besides flora and fauna.  

Book Review: Age of Seeds

Book Review – Ricki Nash and NPA Environmental Book Club 

The Age of Seeds – How plants hacked time and why our future depends on it. 

Author: Fiona McMillan-Webster. (2022) Publisher: Thames and Hudson Australia Pty. Ltd. 

Fiona McMillan-Webster is a science writer with a Bachelor of Science in Physics and a PhD in Biophysics. 

Book Review: Different: What Apes Can Teach Us About Gender

Author: Frans de Waal

Published: 2022 WW Norton& Company (USA) and Granta Books (UK)

Reviewed by: Graham Kelly of the NPA’s Environmental Book Group 

Highly regarded primatologist Frans de Waal explores the biological and behavioural differences between the sexes in close living relatives of homo sapiens. It is based on decades of observations, primarily of chimpanzees and bonobos, and also including other primates and occasionally non-primates. DNA analysis indicates that great apes started evolving separately from monkeys about 30 million years ago (mya). Within great apes Orangutangs separated about 16mya, Gorillas 9mya, Humans 6mya, with the most recent separation between Chimpanzees and Bonobos 2mya.  

Book Review – A Wide and Open Land: Walking the Last of Western Sydney’s Woodlands

Author: Peter Ridgeway (2022)

Reviewer: Julie Sheppard, Macarthur Branch

The author has, in this book, achieved a long held ambition to document what most Sydney-siders have on their doorstep but barely acknowledge, value or respect. “Cumberland Plain” is a term few recognise or understand (“Cumberland Plain Woodland” even less so). The natural features of the region, its unique geology, flora and fauna are being obliterated at a terrifying pace – The conquest of the Cumberland Plain is the largest construction project ever undertaken in the Southern Hemisphere. Every minute more than 100 tonnes of concrete and aggregate is laid in the rural valley of the Plain, 8 tonnes a year for every man, woman and child. (p.2)

Book Review – The Nutmeg’s Curse

By Amitav Ghosh, The Nutmeg’s Curse, Parables for a Planet in Crisis, John Murray 2021

Review by NPA Book Club

Some of us knew Ghosh as a fiction writer with a Bengali background and nature friendly perspective. Here he takes a scholarly and passionate approach to the current crisis of imminent planetary collapse. He begins with the Dutch finding nutmeg in the Banda islands in the 17th century and their subsequent dispossession and extermination of the human inhabitants.

Book Review: The Blue Mountains. Exploring landscapes shaped by the underlying rocks, uplift and erosion

Authors: Peter Hatherly and Ian Brown (2022)

Review by Roger Lembit, NPA Member

On my first walk in the Blue Mountains with the school bushwalking club over 50 years ago one of the teachers pointed to the railway cutting at Glenbrook Station. ‘There is a volcanic dyke running through this section of the Lapstone Monocline’ he said. I have been fortunate to have travelled widely through the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area in subsequent years, for pleasure, and for work, awed by the diversity of the landscape and the plants.