An insect guide that’s a good summer read? Apparently it is possible. With Damselflies of Alberta – plus the beetle book that preceded it and the ladybug, dragonfly and “big, snazzy moths” books to follow – U of A lecturer and author John Acorn swats away conventional approaches to entomological discussion. As Damselflies’ introduction notes: “After more than two centuries of [writing without emotion], scientific writing has become almost inaccessible to average readers, regardless of their intelligence or overall education. This saddens me, and I think it also weakens science by making its details seem less and less relevant to the rest of the thinking world.”
The result is a colourful little handbook filled with lighthearted observations. One photo caption reads, “A big, mean, scary female water spider...one of the creatures that regularly devours unsuspecting damselflies.” This is no ordinary science book.
Damselflies of Alberta, by John Acorn (University of Alberta Press, 2004; $29.95).