Wednesday, October 05, 2011

What are you reading, Karen McReynolds?

The coelacanth (pronounced "see-la-canth") is an ancient fish known only from the fossil record—until one turned up in a fisherman's net off Madagascar in 1938 and was recognized by a local museum curator. A Fish Caught in Time by Samantha Weinberg is the story of that discovery and the subsequent astonishment of the scientific community as more specimens appeared and it became evident that the coelacanth was indeed quite alive and well.

It reads like a novel, describing the people and exotic places that have become the story of this amazing creature: five feet long, with large hard scales, fins like limbs and a puppy dog tail. As one of the reviewers on the back cover says, "This is terrific stuff, and even if you haven't given much thought recently to supposedly extinct fish ... you ought to read this book." I've always been intrigued by the coelacanth and I grabbed this book right away when someone left it at the book exchange table at the AP biology exam grading event in June.Books like this that tell a true story make nonfiction just as fun as fiction.

When I'm teaching I'm usually reading things that relate to the subject at hand, but I love summers and breaks from school when I have the time to read just for fun. The mystery series by Nevada Barr, where each book takes place in a different national park and the heroine is a park ranger, is a lot of fun. I like Tony Hillerman's mysteries too as I love the rural northern Arizona setting. I went to college at Northern Arizona University and that is a beautiful part of the country—I enjoy being reminded of it in Hillerman's Navajo mysteries.

Karen McReynolds has taught Earth Science, Life Science, and Environmental Science here at HIU since January of this year. Above she is pictured just before a bike ride down the slope of Mauna Loa, nearly the world's tallest mountain! As an Earth Science teacher, she thought that this would be a fitting picture, and we definitely agree.

A Fish Caught in Time: The Search for the Coelacanth by Samantha Weinberg, Harper Collins, 2000.

This book may be purchased at, Barnes and Noble, and Better World Books.

You may also check this book out from HIU's Darling Library, or from your local library by searching

We'd love to know what you are reading. To join the fun, fill out the "What are you reading?" questionnaire and submit it by following the instructions included.

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