Monday, March 20, 2006

A book from the bin, 'bout baboons

National Bookstore in Cubao has a floor dedicated to their overflowing inventory. You scan through the bins and shelves and wonder why they decided to buy too many copies of How to Be A Cattle Rancher or Culture Shock for Dummies. Do they learn from their mistakes or figure that when it's time to cull these gems from their outlets, they'll find a special audience from those bookworms who visit Cubao.

I've gone there a few times, usually with a good friend who has a "To Be Read" list in the thousands of books. She combines the best of a bookaholic and a shopaholic. We get her updated tbr list every quarter to help her get through the list, as they tend to overtake her life a bit.

On my last visit, I came across a book called A Primate's Memoirs, by Robert Sapolsky. It lay on my bookshelf for a few weeks before I finally got around to reading it and within a few pages it has become a major part of my favorite reads of all time. I can see myself reading, laughing, and crying over Dr. Sapolsky's stories for years to come.

He writes of the nearly 20 years he spent in Kenya documenting the stress hormones of baboons. He shares his favorite stories about the baboons, detailing characteristics, quirks, social and anti-social behaviors. Every other chapter or so, he also shares his life with the tribes like the Masai, travelling around Eastern Africa, and his personal relationships with people who impact his life over those learning years. If Bill Bryson were a bio-psychologist and learned how to dart primates, then he'd be Dr. Sapolsky.

Laura Hillenbrand made me fall in love with race horses, especially Seabiscuit; now Robert Sapolsky has enamored my senses with his tales of living out in Africa with baboons. Books that get under your skin like that deserve to be on any favorite books list.


Abster said...

Oooh... interesting. Hello Mila! You might not remember me anymore, but I met you in the famous and infamous tea party! =)

wysgal said...

RE the saloons/salons comment on my blog --- I was trying to be nice! =) I wouldn't mind having my hair cut by a cowboy though ...

Mila Tan said...

Hi Abster, nice meeting a fellow tea/dessert lover.

Wysgal, ok, i'll be nice the next time. I just couldn't help laughing with the saloon comment.

George@CASE said...

I'm just a random blogger that happened upon your blog through technorati.

I am having lunch with Dr. Robert Sapolsky in 1 hour, and he'll be giving a talk later on.

I have to confess that I haven't read any of his books, but I just borrowed one from the library (A primate's memoir).

Tea lover here, also!

Mila Tan said...

Oooh, George@case I envy you. Tell him he has a fan in Manila. Will be looking for more of his books when I go to the States this summer. I hope you have a lovely discussion with him.

Askinstoo said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Homo J. Sapien said...

I also thoroughly recommend anything by Robert Sapolsky. Good science made very funny. A great read for anyone!

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