Beasts! Monstrosities! Stuff worse than the honey badger! In this tome to the oddities in the world around us, you’ll meet 27 barely imagined beings.
First published in 2012, the book is indeed a bestiary. With the whole thing designed like a Medieval book emblazoned with golden panels and whatnot.
It’s a most excellent read and one that’ll introduce you to the bizarre and extravagant nature of life on the planet (Earth).
The Book of Barely Imagined Beings: A 21st Century Bestiary
The work is concerned with detailing the existence of various
Caspar Henderson seemingly based the work on Jorge Luis Borges’s Book of Imaginary Beings, which is about fake animals.
The difference is the range of beasts he introduces to us are very much real, although seemingly invented by some fantasy author out there.
Take the axolotl, which is the first little dude to open the work.
It’s a Mexican salamander that’s on the cute side of things and appears to have a smile plastered on its face.
Along with detailing the nature of this creature, Henderson also provides a pretty detail zoological record dating back to their discovery.
He does this for the various other animals he introduces,merging together natural history alongside cultural and philosophical anecdotes and reasoning.
As that’s one of the incredible things about life on Earth.
The sheer range of species on the planet is almost beyond comprehension. Which is why when you read about flatworms, goblin sharks, yeti crabs, and the fabled honey badger you’ll be swooning and happy with all of this wild extravagance.
The goblin sharks may look like the stuff of nightmares, but we’re sure they all have lovely personalities as well.
Also, there are further insights into cephalopods (you can read about those in the insightful Other Minds) and the startling array of intelligent (or not so bright) life across the planet.
As a book, it’s a great fun read and clearly put together with a lot of care and attention.
It does have the qualities of a bit of a “dip in and out” read, where you can start at any chapter without much consideration.
Kind of like an Atlas Obscura of weirdo animal dudes.
But the tome is memorable enough to overcome any issues of being gimmicky. It’s a fun read and you’ll learn a lot about some freaky animals.