Steve's Herpetological Blog

An insight into the life of Steve, his research and the many books he reads


#StevesLibrary: Alien Places

This week’s review is for a book that I’m happy to bet you haven’t heard of, yet I highly recommend it. Alien Places by Atul Kumar in my eyes is unique among the books I own. My library is heavily focussed towards popular science (which shouldn’t be a surprise) but I also have a large number of comics and fiction books from TV shows and literary spin-offs. Alien Places a combination of these two for the simple fact that in it, Atul Kumar travels the world with hypothetical alien revealing as much about humanity as possible. The book does have a strong conservation message which should be clear from Kumar’s other work but I enjoyed the way the information was delivered.

In Alien Places the reader goes on a journey with the alien to visit ten locations. Whilst here, their cultural, ecological and technological significant is explored to explain how they have helped shaped human civilisation and why they are so important. Without the natural world, it would be impossible to create and sustain our modern world. You may be thinking that the locations for this journey are therefore all ecological, in fact the opposite is true. They range from Los Angeles to the Amazon Rainforest, with the journey starting in Cairo and ending in Antarctica. This is critical for understanding just how important the natural world is to the human world and how both can influence one another.

One of my favourite things about this book is the pop-culture references. Kumar has taken time to include recommended listening and watching, choosing music and movies that help to set the scene and provide background information for the locations visited on the journey. Whilst the book starts out introducing us to an alien visiting earth, through the conversations both the alien and Kumar have throughout the book – the reader takes the place of the alien. This first-person approach is what makes the book so unique and interesting to read. I thoroughly recommend it and I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did.

As some of you may know, today is my birthday. I’ve shared my Amazon Wishlist on social media a couple of times over the past month or so and a number of kind people have purchased books for me. I just want to take the time to thank everyone, I shall get to reading them and reviewing them in the near future! The lockdown is giving me a lot of time to to read which is one of the ways I’m using to pass the time.

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