Sensing the World Anew Through Other Species

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Ed Yong’s new book, “An Immense World,” urges readers to break outside their “sensory bubble” to consider the unique ways that dogs, dolphins, mice and other animals experience their surroundings.

“I’ve often said that my beat is everything that is or was once alive, which covers billions of species, across basically the entirety of the planet’s history,” Yong says on this week’s podcast. “One thing I like about this particular topic — the sensory worlds of other animals — is that it, itself, though a singular, cohesive topic, is also the gateway to thousands of small wonders. There’s so much to learn about just in this one corner of biology.”

Terry Alford visits the podcast to talk about his new book, “In the Houses of Their Dead,” an investigation of how Abraham Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth and their families were influenced by spiritualism.

Alford says of Lincoln: “There’s a struggle, as best I see it, in him between the rational side and the side that desires to be comforted and to be in contact with someone you loved who’s not there anymore. He really wanted that, and he said he wanted that to a number of people. But he just felt, at the end of the day, that séance-type contact with the dead was really delusional.”

Also on this week’s episode, Lauren Christensen and Joumana Khatib talk about what they’ve been reading. John Williams is the host.

Here are the books discussed in this week’s “What We’re Reading”:

  • “The Secret History” by Donna Tartt

  • “Blood Orange Night” by Melissa Bond

  • “The Hack” by Wilfrid Sheed

We would love to hear your thoughts about this episode, and about the Book Review’s podcast in general. You can send them to [email protected].

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