Book Club, Nonfiction, STEM

Fuzz by Mary Roach

When Nature Breaks the Law

It’s another Mary Roach book! I do love her insatiable curiosity and I was delighted when another book club member recommended this book for book club.


From the publisher marketing:
What’s to be done about a jaywalking moose? A bear caught breaking and entering? A murderous tree? Three hundred years ago, animals that broke the law would be assigned legal representation and put on trial. These days, as New York Times best-selling author Mary Roach discovers, the answers are best found not in jurisprudence but in science: the curious science of human-wildlife conflict, a discipline at the crossroads of human behavior and wildlife biology.

Roach tags along with animal-attack forensics investigators, human-elephant conflict specialists, bear managers, and danger tree faller blasters. Intrepid as ever, she travels from leopard-terrorized hamlets in the Indian Himalaya to St. Peter’s Square in the early hours before the pope arrives for Easter Mass, when vandal gulls swoop in to destroy the elaborate floral display. She taste-tests rat bait, learns how to install a vulture effigy, and gets mugged by a macaque.

Combining little-known forensic science and conservation genetics with a motley cast of laser scarecrows, langur impersonators, and trespassing squirrels, Roach reveals as much about humanity as about nature’s lawbreakers. When it comes to problem wildlife, she finds, humans are more often the problem–and the solution. Fascinating, witty, and humane, Fuzz offers hope for compassionate coexistence in our ever-expanding human habitat.

The black bear is a ridiculously lovable species. There’s a reason kids have teddy bears, not teddy goats or teddy eels.

Click on this graphic to explore the book page on LibraryThing!


Catching up on my Bridge Street Book Club selections this month – this one brought us another new member to Bridge Street Book Club back in the fall. Given the fact that my husband almost always have documentaries on in the background at home, I did struggle to remember what occurred solely in the book and what was similar to things that I have watched. Thankfully, or weirdly, two of the three people who came to book club hadn’t read the book at all, and the one who had read it did so awhile before so she was also a bit fuzzy, so no one was there to call me out on conflating my facts.

As always, Mary delivers a fascinating book full of insights and experiences that the rest of us can only hope to learn from. She immerses herself in wildlife training exercises, travels the globe to hear about how other countries handle wildlife incursions, and gives you more information on a topic than you thought you needed.

This was probably my favorite of the four books of hers that I have read, mostly because each chapter is different enough from the previous that it keeps you going (sometimes her curiosity is a little too insatiable, even for perpetual students of science and history like me). This particular book also applies to just about everyone, whether you live in the wilds of Alaska with moose on your streets, Colorado with bears in your dumpsters, Pennsylvania with deer inconveniently running into your cars, or New York City with cockroaches in your kitchen. There is something here that everyone can relate to.

What do we do, as human beings who have encroached on wild spaces, when the creatures that occupy those spaces find their way into our habitats? Mary tackles that question (and so much more), in this brilliant new addition to her pantheon of nature and science inquiry. It’s one to read, especially as we amp up conversations of humanity versus nature in the 21st century.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Click this image to visit the book page on my Bookshop page!

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