Best Wellers Pick

Every other month the staff of Weller Book Works nominates and then votes on books we deem worthy of extra attention, our Best Weller's selection. We discount these books to you by 20% during the months for which they're chosen because we believe in them.



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An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us By Ed Yong Cover Image
By Ed Yong
ISBN: 9780593133231
Availability: On Our Shelves Now

Published: Random House - June 21st, 2022

In his book, An Immense World, Ed Yong raises the question: how can we understand the way animals experience their world when we simply cannot relate to what they see, smell, taste, hear, feel, and everything in between? Their brains and bodies are so different from ours, how can we possibly put ourselves in their furry, scaly, feathered points of view? The short answer is that we can’t—and that is the most exciting answer of all, as I learned from this fabulous book.
To start our adventure through the animal kingdom, Yong has us picture a large room full of an array of animals: a person, an elephant, a mouse, and a mosquito, to name a few. The mosquito is darting through the air heading toward currents of carbon dioxide that signal the presence of a tasty human; the elephant is using its trunk to sniff out its surroundings; the mouse is scurrying along the walls, ears perked for danger; all while the human is looking around with her very complex eyes, trying to figure out what’s going on. Even though they are in the same room, each creature is having a wildly different experience of the space and the others in it. The same can be said for all the animals on our planet—each creature is equipped with their own personal sense receptors that only capture a mere fraction of reality. We are all tucked into our own completely unique sensory bubble called an Umwelt.
When we try to relate to the creatures we share our world with, the best way is not to compare one species with another, but to understand how each individual is suited to live. What is their Umwelt like? How a species is built gives us clues to how they experience their world, and it is only from there that we can piece together a hint, a vague inkling of an idea of what their reality is. This is a unique and exciting way of looking at the world around us—immersing ourselves into studying not what animals do, but what makes them able to thrive and excel. Yong leads us on a tour of the animal kingdom like never before, focusing each chapter on a different sense and how it is used and manipulated across a multitude of creatures.
With David Attenborough-like glee, Yong guides us through our five senses, while explaining how other creatures use these same senses in completely distinctive and wondrous ways. Doing away with the mysterious notion of a “sixth sense,” we also explore how some animals have ways of picking up on stimuli that humans simply do not possess. By understanding different animals’ Umwelten, we can almost imagine the eye-popping colors on a spectrum we can’t see, sounds our human ears can’t pick up, or even what the magnetic pulls from the earth feel like.
It is the unknowable that was the most exciting to discover within these pages. I loved learning that there are so many things happening right next to me that I will never truly be able to observe. Yong cultivates a thrill in things that are so close to us and yet so foreign it is hard to even wrap your head around. Yong takes time to pause and truly delight in the natural world containing an endless parade of new knowledge that can help bring us closer to our natural world.
Ed Yong’s playful prose and scientific expertise are the perfect mixture to draw you deep into other worlds found here in our backyard. Even as I am sitting next to my cat writing this review, I’m wondering what she is experiencing in her own little Umwelt. It makes me smile, because although I’ll never know exactly what she is thinking, I get to understand her a bit better because of this book. Trust me, as you immerse yourself in An Immense World, you’ll be looking at your pets a little differently. Or perhaps, you’ll enjoy spouting off incredible animal facts to your friends, family, or anybody who will listen (perhaps patrons of a certain bookstore in Trolley Square...). In this lovely book, Ed Yong gives us such a wonderful glimpse into the immense world around us.