It’s been a long time since I’ve really thought about dinosaurs.
I read a really great review for My Beloved Brontosaurus, and then the last time I was at the library I saw it right there on the “new non-fiction” shelf and I grabbed it immediately. This review has been hard to write so far, because my brain is literally teeming with all the things I’ve learned about dinosaurs and there’s a part of me that just wants to go on a never-ending ramble about all of it like a little kid.
So, dinosaurs! Remember them? I haven’t really learned anything about dinosaurs since middle school, and what I learned was this: Dinosaurs were big, scary reptile-like things that walked around until an asteroid killed everything on Earth. I mean, that’s basically the gist of what we learned. And when I heard of My Beloved Brontosaurus, I thought “Hey, that sounds like a fun book on a topic that I basically know nothing about.” And it was! Also, pretty much everything I learned about dinosaurs in middle school was wrong.
This book is really well-written, and discusses a whole wide range of dinosaur topics. Stuff that I never even thought of, like how dinosaurs got their groove on, what illnesses they suffered from, if they were social or solitary creatures, what they actually looked like (shock to me that a whole lot of them had dino fuzz and/or feathers), what they might have sounded like, and why they didn’t survive whatever killed them off. All of this is interspersed with Switek’s own personal recollections of fossil excavations, interviews, and trips. The chapters were concise, well-organized, and flowed smoothly.
My favorite thing about this book is that the author’s passion for dinosaurs and paleontology practically radiated from the pages. Writing good non-fiction for the average reader is HARD. What makes non-fiction books particularly enjoyable, at least for me, is when the author clearly enjoys the subject matter. If the author is really excited about what he’s writing, then it’s more likely that the readers will find interesting as well. Also, there were unexpected bits of humor in this book, especially in the chapter speculating how dinosaurs might have mated.
Honestly, I didn’t expect to enjoy this book as much as I did. Like I said, dinosaurs wasn’t even a topic I was particularly interested in, more than idly wondering if we’ll ever bring them back from extinction like in Jurassic Park. And… now I’m more curious. I kind of want to know more about the dinosaurs. It bums me out that we’ll probably never know enough about them. I’ll be keeping an eye out for other interesting paleontology books, as well as for future books by Switek.
I definitely recommend checking this book out. Also, I hear that the dust jacket folds out to be a poster! I couldn’t check that on the library copy, but I plan on buying my own copy anyways.
Sarah Says: 4 stars