(Belated) June Book of the Month: Salamanders and Other Wonders

Another belated book of the month for you…

For June, we have a Non-fiction: Salamanders and Other Wonders: Still More Adventures of a Romantic Naturalist, by Willy Ley.


Honestly, I will recommend any of the books by Willy Ley. As the title denotes, this is one of a sort of series of books he wrote about his knowledge and what he had seen. His books are all very much the rambling experiences of someone who knows what the heck they are talking about. Which is awesome. It reminds me of my own lecturing style. Also he writes on fascinating topics, picking animals that many people have never heard of and detailing their histories for the reader. He chooses topics that sounds made up and really bizarre.

I was given this book as a gift, not only because salamanders, but because I have a love of vintage and antique books. This very classy 1955 naturalist tome is a great addition to the ol’ library.

I had a bit of a nerdy freak out when the first species addressed in the book, in great detail and with a very accurate historical recap, is the Cave Olm. This is one of the coolest animals in the world and hardly anyone has heard of them. Reading about them in Willy Ley’s dry wit was a delight. When he describes the surprise of researchers at the reproductive anomalies of these animals, I imagine him drinking tea in a room of strange artifacts looking bored. The book did not disappoint from there.

I kind of want this to be turned into an audiobook. I frequently download books of LibraVox (if you have never used it, it’s great: all free public domain audiobooks read by volunteers. You can volunteer to read as well if you have the will and the time). There is this one guy who read Bartleby the Scrivener who has the best charming professorial voice, and he would be perfect for this book. I need to find out if this book is public domain, and if it is I need to see if I can put in a request for that guy to read it, because that would be amazing.

Read this book. You will learn lots and be amused.

Willy Ley says you should read his books.

Willy Ley says you should read his books.