Nathan reviews Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law by Mary Roach, W.W. Norton & Company, 2021, 308 pages

Legumes and elephants and macaques, oh my! (Sorry, I could not help myself, nor did I want to.)

When reading a Mary Roach book, one is guaranteed to encounter several things. Sarcasm, bad jokes others do not find funny (especially the person being interviewed), scientific terminology made accessible, and thorough research. Fuzz does not disappoint. For someone who can write so casually, Roach definitely gets plenty of praise from the scientific community for her work, and, once again, she has been nominated for (and won) several awards for her latest effort.

Throughout the book, there is not a single chapter I did not enjoy. The research, the wit, everything is great. (Sarcasm speaks to me.) So much of Roach’s writings are fascinating, and Fuzz is definitely that in so many ways. There is a wonderful balance of serious content, novel bits of information, and just fun banter. Roach writes as if she is the fun professor in college who can make any lecture enjoyable and lively. Whether she is talking about how blowing up the tops of trees is actually good for the forest or the various and extreme lengths humans have gone to just for the sake of scaring away birds, every chapter is engrossing.

I even love how she will describe the individuals she interviews. She learns best from conversations with real people instead of just promotional literature or training videos. In a book about animals and plants, the human element is surprisingly helpful and almost as interesting. The research and hands-on learning she did for this book are amazing. As you read, you can definitely tell that she approaches her subjects with a curious and open mind. She wants to learn as much as she can before trying to mold the content into her own words.

Oh, and the chapter titles are so much fun, too! How can you not love a book with chapters such as “Terror Beans: The Legume as an Accomplice to Murder,” “The Gulls of St. Peter: The Vatican Tries a Laser,” and “Okay, Boomer: The Failed Military Action Against Birds”?