Peterson Field Guides

During my formative years, I cared more about sports, music, and reading than nature, but I enjoyed learning about things that interested me. When a kid down the street invited me and a few others to watch him feed a live toad to his pet snake, we accepted. I’ll spare you the details, but witnessing nature firsthand inspired me to check out a handbook on the subject.

Reptiles and Amphibians (Golden Press), a “guide to familiar American species,” presented more than 200 species with color illustrations, and I loved flipping through its pages. Better yet, the library had other Golden Guides in the series, including Mammals and Rocks and Minerals, and those books interested me even more. A few months later, however, my fleeting interest in natural science had all but disappeared.

Fast-forward a few decades. I’m at Lowe’s browsing through books on projects I hope I never have to do when I spot the sixth edition of Roger Tory Peterson’s Field Guide to Birds of Eastern and Central North America. I bought it, and as in my youth, I discovered the book was only one in a series of great books, so I ordered the latest edition of the Peterson Field Guide to Stars and Planets. I’ve started reading the latter from cover to cover, and it’s fascinating!

Peterson Field Guides are “Golden Guides for Adults” published to assist curious lay people in identifying natural phenomena, and I’m amazed at the number of guides available. Like most people, my pursuits leave little time to explore every shiny object that comes along, but those looking to take a break from time to time will find these books packed with fun facts about the world in which they live and the universe in which that world exists.

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