Relaxing in a hammock with a good book is a great way to spend a warm summer afternoon. Here are a few titles that have recently caught my eye.
* "The Last Appalachian Wolf" by Edwin D. Michael (Quarrier Press, 2014) is a fictional account of the extinction of timber wolves in the East. The locations and people involved are real and based upon historical records, but the accounts of the wolves' lives over the course of 200 years come from the fertile imagination of the author.
Michael is a retired wildlife professor from West Virginia University. He knows the natural history of the Appalachians as well as anyone I know. The opening chapter grabbed me, and I had to find out how once common Eastern wolves disappeared. Readers can purchase signed copies from the author by sending a check for $15 to Ed Michael, 1374 Horseshoe Drive, Morgantown, W.Va., 26508.
* "West Virginia Mountain Lions: Past, Present and Future of the Long Tailed Cat" by Skip Johnson (Quarrier Press, 2014) is a peek into the mystique of North America's big cat. Though they once roamed the entire continent as the top carnivore, naturally reproducing mountain lions now are found only out West and in Florida. But lions are on the move. In recent years young males from the Dakotas have made their way as far east as Connecticut. Johnson limits his story to West Virginia, where he worked as an outdoor writer at the Charleston Gazette for more than 30 years. Though mountain lions are the focus of the book, it is their effect on people and our reaction them that complete the tale. Johnson died in 2010.
* "The Amazing World of Flyingfish" by Steve N.G. Howell (Princeton University Press, 2014) is a brief 45 pages, but a fascinating look into the world of flying fish. Considered mythical by many, the book corrects that impression. Beautifully illustrated with more than 90 color photos, all but two by the author, "Flyingfish" is a mesmerizing natural history. For example, flights of flying fish can cover up to a quarter-mile, last up to 45 seconds and reach speeds of 20 to 40 mph.
Biologist, author, and broadcaster Scott Shalaway can be heard 8-10 a.m. Saturdays on 1370 WVLY-AM (Wheeling) and online at www.wvly.net. He can be reached at www.drshalaway.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and 2222 Fish Ridge Road, Cameron, W.Va., 26033.
Biologist, author, and broadcaster Scott Shalaway can be heard 8-10 a.m. Saturdays on 1370 WVLY-AM (Wheeling) and online at www.wvly.net. He can be reached at www.drshalaway.com, email@example.com and 2222 Fish Ridge Road, Cameron, W.Va., 26033. First Published July 25, 2014 1:00 AM