Recommended Reading

Recommended Reading


Hey. We’re gonna talk about some books that I read. I get a lot of questions about, “Hey, Emily, what are you reading right now?” and “How do you know all of this?” and “Oh my god, you’re really smart.” And thank you very much, but I, uh, obviously didn’t learn all of this information materializing out of the air, um, I had to read it. So. Let’s go through a stack of books, these are the books that I have read to get the information for this channel and I’ll probably be referencing them in the future and I encourage you all to pick them up and read them and buy them and love them if you think that they sound interesting. This book is called Stuffed Animals and Pickled Heads: The Culture and Evolution of the Natural History Museum and it’s written by Stephen T. Asma who was actually a philosopher, he’s a philosophy professor, which is awesome. This book is hilarious and awesome and it details, you know, why we stuff things and how that kind of stuffing process is done. This next book is one of my favorite books, it is seriously one of the most informative things I’ve ever read in my life. It is called Dry Storeroom No. 1: The Secret Life of the Natural History Museum, written by Richard Fortey and when they talk about the Natural History Museum, they’re referring to THE Natural History Museum, that is in England. Which is one of the oldest and largest and most diverse natural history museums in the existence of the world. And Richard Fortey’s just plainly a genius. So this book is obviously one that you wanna pick up and read if you have questions about what kind of departments are in natural history museums. It talks about some plants and minerals and invertebrates and vertebrates and birds and the kind of racist things that we don’t have on display anymore because they are racist. This is Still life: Adventures in taxidermy by Melissa Milgrom and if I had to narrow down some of my top 10 favorite books ever, this would probably be in the Top 5 because… Just… judge a book by its cover. This book is awesome. It goes into detail about things like the World Taxidermy Championship That’s a thing. And it’s not like the racing… you know, taxidermied animals around in a circle or something. It’s not like that. But it is like the Superbowl of the world of taxidermy. And I wanna go to it some day. Pioneer naturalists: The Discovery and Naming of North American Plants and Animals by Howard Ensign Evans and although this book is currently out of print, it is one of the most informative things I’ve ever read in my life. Because if you’re wondering who the Douglas fir is named after, it talks about David Douglas in here. He died after falling into a trap that was set to capture a loose bull because apparently he had been caught sleeping with a farmer’s wife. In Hawaii. This is The Authentic Animal: Inside the Odd and Obsessive World of Taxidermy and it’s written by Dave Madden. This book starts off detailing a lot of the work by Carl Akeley who was arguably the father of modern taxidermy today and the one responsible for creating the animals that go into the dioramas at the American Natural History Museum in New York So this book has a lot of significance because it details who this person was and how they got started and things like… That’s about it. I don’t have a cover for this one. This is Mr. Hornaday’s War: How a schhhhh Peculiar Victorian Zookeeper Waged a Lonely Crusade for Wildlife That Changed the World. This is written by Stefan Bechtel and this is another one of my Top 10 favorite books in the world. I kind of have a personal allegiance to William Temple Hornaday who was kind of a controversial figure in the history of taxidermy and zoology but nevertheless a very significant one. We have some of his specimens in our collection today including the group of American bison that were procured from Montana in 1886 that later went on display at the National Natural History Museum in Washington, D.C. and inevitably were the spark for the fire that saved the American bison from inevitable extinction. So Stefan Bechtel goes into great detail about Hornaday and how he did that and there is a little bit of a mention about how he put a pygmy person from the Congo on display in a zoo with primate exhibit in order to highlight evolution. And that makes Hornaday not so cool but remember, it was like 1913 and… things were different? This is The Breathless Zoo: Taxidermy and the Cultures of Longing written by Rachel Poliquin. And this book, more than any of the other ones, goes into greatest detail about the history of taxidermy on a global scale. This book also goes into great detail about Walter Potter, who is one of my favorite characters from taxidermy history. Walter Potter actually made little dioramas using bunnies and kittens doing anthropomorphic things, like, he made a kitty tea party, There’s a tea party of taxidermied kittens, about 20 of them, and some of them are playing croquet on the side. And the rest of them are drinking tea. He also did the kitten wedding that has like 20 attendants and Rachel Poliquin talks about that in her book. And a lot of other really fascinating things about taxidermy and the history of animal preservation. So, thank you, Rachel Poliquin, you’re super cool, we should hang out sometime. So, if you guys really need something to read and you wanna read about taxidermy and you wanna learn things and you wanna gain some awesome superpowers, I recommend checking out any one of these books they’re some of my favorites. This has been an episode of the Brain Scoop, my name is Emily, make sure you subscribe and thanks for watching. It still has brains on it.

100 thoughts on “Recommended Reading

  1. Probably already recommended in the comments, but I suggest taking a look at a book called "Kingdom Under Glass" by Jay Kirk. It is a biography on Carl Akeley and how he went from Chicago's Field Museum to working on his lifelong dream of the Africa Room at the AMNH.

  2. Hey Emily, have you ever read the book called "Life Everlasting: The Animal Way Of Death"? I recently read it and after watching this video, I was reminded of it and it seems now like a book you might be interested in. I'm not sure that there's a whole lot in it that you don't already know, but it's worth a try. I enjoyed it. 🙂 By the way, awesome recommendations <3

  3. the racist stuff mentioned was pretty confronting. these folks from a century ago seem convinced that their military superiority really meant a superior intelligence too.

  4. Oh god, if you want to see well-meaning but terrible taxidermy, you should see this Russian stuffed fox, I think it was used for tv at one point. Absolutely horrifying. My dad has a picture of it as his desktop background and I'm tormented every time I have to log form his account to mine.
    It's practically famous, "обдолбанный/упоротый лис."
    It's name literally translates to, "messed-up fox."

  5. Emily, I bought Pioneer Naturalists and Dry Storeroom No.1 pretty much right after watching this video. And I've had a hankering to go to my city's natural history museum. I'm probably going to magically transform into a taxidermist, naturalist, or wildlife biologist after watching too many thebrainscoop videos…

  6. I have to say you did a fantastic job explaining these books…. as much as I love your videos I had to remind myself 30 times that I am not interested in taxidermy Hahahaha almost just bought them all blindly from the way you talk about them

    Great to see you love what you do

  7. thank you so much for the book recommendations. this show is wonderful. i wish it had come out when I was in Missoula last June.

  8. Hey Emily, thanks for the book recommendations. I am attending grad school next year for natural history museum studies and these will definitely get me started!

  9. Emily, there's a film adaptation of Alice in Wonderland that uses stop motion animation with taxidermied animals. It's called Alice and it's by Jan Svankmajer. There are a bunch of clips on Youtube. Here's one: watch?v=Gd03-wm6DDM

  10. 'how a peculiar Victorian zookeeper waged a lonely crusade for wildlife that changed the world in your pants,' Just saying amazing

  11. our homeschooled 15 year old son recommended this channel to me and I'm delighted he did because you have a lot of wonderful material here! Thanks for all your work.. terrific! I hope to be a regular visitor. (I have just a bachelor's in zoology from University of Wales many years ago.. learned much then but most of my natural history knowledge has been gleaned in the field, quite literally, over the decades.. so all this is right up my alley!

  12. Please forgive me if you have already answered these two questions, but… 1/ Where do you get your earrings? My wife has the same taste as you and I'd love to get her some of those, and 2. What is the music used at the beginning and end of your videos? Thanks in advance.

  13. took the words right out of my mouth. I like that buckle.

    Also if I think you are a Genius and you call someone else a genius .. that other person much be beyond genius. Is there even a word for that ? Super Genius

  14. Emily, I have no interest in taxidermy. I stumbled across your page… Brilliant!! I think it is wonderful that you have created a 'tribe' of followers through your common interest. Well done, I've subscribed, and am looking forward to seeing more interesting videos.

  15. "This book is called 'Stuffed Animals and Pickled Heads…" I didn't need to hear any more to pause the video and buy it. 

  16. Thank you for sharing, now I can explore these topics! Highschool does not show me these incredible things that you have been sharing. Thank you, you and the people that have made these videos possible are my role models

  17. Mental Floss and you both! My list of books to buy has swelled immensely. I shall be ruined! But at least I'll be entertained.

  18. Emily, you are awesome!  I am a librarian and have read a biography of Carl Akelely, but not any of the other books you recommend, so I am adding them to my holds list now!  In real life I am not overly keen on taxidermy, but I can totally get excited about it from a museum standpoint – thanks for sharing!

  19. none of these are audio books and im gonna cry cuz im visually disabled and cant read them even tho i really want to..

  20. Just read "Mr. Hornaday's War" and "Dry Storage Room #1" … greatly loved both, though too much gucky things in D.S.R.#1. Both books are a bit too long, but mostly exciting. Recommend them both to people who enjoy science articles. Looking forward to Fortey's other books, as well as possibly some of Hornaday's writings. "Still Life" is next, followed by "Authentic Animal"!

  21. Now that some time has passed since the publishing of this video, do you have any more book reccomendations? Can you do a second video on some new books you would recommend?

  22. Not that I want to take away from the fact that this episode is about reading, but that Bighorn Sheep buckle is fantastic.

  23. Hi! So, I love this channel because it's fun and informative, intelligent and feels real. I would appreciate it if someone recommended another channel that is similar in those ways. It doesn't have to be specifically about natural history, taxidermy, museums, etc., just any channel you like. (Although science is always welcome.)

  24. One of my favorite books is The Windward Road by Archie Carr (herpetologist and cofounder of the Sea Turtle Conservancy). It's written in the 50's and consists of stories from his time in the field, mostly around the Caribbean. Though sometimes slightly racist (written in the 50's, remember), it tells a very interesting and entertaining story about the people and communities he encounters. It also gives a very interesting look into early sea turtle research (back then most of the life of turtles were a mystery) and wildlife conservation. My favorite parts are the over booked and delayed flight in Bocas del Toro, Panama, and the bumpy landing at the "runway" on Tortuguero beach.

  25. Who was sleeping with the farmer's wife, the bull or David Douglas? If it was David who was sleeping with the farmers wife, why was he trying to capture a bull? If the bull was sleeping with the farmer's wife, just WTF?????

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