Book Review: A Californian’s Guide to the Mammals Among Us’s very own Charles Hood is the latest mammalwatcher to release a book.

A Californian’s Guide to the Mammals Among Us aims to spark an interest in mammalwatching among the uninitiated. And where better place to do that than California: home to a great many mammals and a great many uninitiated!

Charles’s book is wonderfully written in his own inimitable style, starting from the very top of page 1.

“Why Watch Animals? Because animals do interesting things. Because they come in so many shapes and sizes. Because they are everywhere. Because it’s fun. Because why not.”

The rest of the book continues in a similar vein, running through 50 species (or groups of species) ranging from Grizzly Bears (now extinct in the state) to Pocket Gophers. Humanity also get an entry, worthy of a place in the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy.

Indeed many of the entries will stick in your memory. Consider Charles’s take on the Bobcat, a species I will never look at again in the same way.

“In a state bursting with superlatives—the tallest trees, the biggest whales, the most expensive houses—it’s easy to overlook the bobcat, which is basically the Tom Hanks of the natural world. Not flashy, not ostentatious, no sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. Instead, it represents durability and a quiet, enduring presence—the everyman of carnivores.”

Most of the book’s many excellent photos also come from Charles and other regulars from including Paul Carter and Jose Gabriel Martinez.

This isn’t a field guide. But it would be a thoughtful gift for any of the 39 million Californians who really ought to be more interested in mammals. Also a great book for the kids if you are planning a family trip through the state and trying to negotiate more mammal – less theme park – time.

Available from , Amazon and elsewhere.




Leave a Reply