December Reflections 5: best book of 2016


This year I went to Lyme Regis, where they are so proud of their ammonites that they incorporate them into the design of the lamp-posts. And I picked one up from the beach at Charmouth. And I thought a lot about spirals, and nautilus, which are living fossils, and about snails, and when I saw this book, with this title, it seemed meant. It’s a delightful book, very readable pop science with some fascinating thought experiments (how can you not love the Imaginary Museum of All Possible Shells?), gorgeous pictures, and good stories. Look at this, for example:

There are even molluscs that use their shells as greenhouses. Heart Cockles are small, heart-shaped and pink, and can be found lying on sandy seabeds near coral reefs. Like other bivalves they sift nourishment from the water, but they also grow food inside their bodies. Colonies of photosynthetic microbes in their tissues harness sunlight to make sugars.In return for a free feed, the shells give the microbes, known as zooxanthellae, somewhere safe to live and a ready supply of light; the shells have small, transparent windows that let the sunshine in.

Spirals In Time (Helen Scales). Thoroughly recommended even if you’re not as hung up on seashells as I am.

3 thoughts on “December Reflections 5: best book of 2016”

  1. This looks interesting! I enjoy seashells and ammonites and find anything like that fascinating, so this is nice to see. Thanks for sharing it! I’ll be checking this book out.


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