San Francisco, California

Spineless

Over the past week or so I’ve been reading Spineless which is a book by Juli Berwald all about jellyfish. I picked it up in the Haight only because of the design of its cover and the random paragraph that I flipped to – but that would be enough. I knew this book was going to be a lovely tale about a topic that I have zero interest or knowledge in.

I think the reason why I would recommend this book, even before I’ve finished reading it, is because jellyfish question everything that we know about life; how they move, how they see, how they eat, how they process information. Everything about them is alien and beyond comprehension and sci-fi as all hell. At least this is how Juli describes them in all their weirdness and splendor. Also, I had never heard of agriculture’s sibling aquaculture before reading this book, neither had I considered how a lot of the machines we build imitate the way that animals move through the world. Juli connects these weird sci-fi threads together and weaves them like gold.

Although after reading a few reviews it appears that some folks dislike the personal and relationship stories that Juli details in the book – about her husband, her kids, and the previous relationships that were knotted together in with her love for jellyfish. But I really liked that stuff, it felt much closer to a blog or a diary and so I would heartily recommend this book if you’re interested in an upbeat collection of stories about how someone fell in love with a topic, how it became an obsession for them, and how they discovered one of the strangest bunch of creatures on the planet.