Some favourite books

Vivienne, at “Bug Woman – Adventures in London”, had a great idea with her post yesterday, which was to describe 3 of her favourite illustrated books. It inspired me to continue the theme by mentioning 3 of my own.

With a well stocked bookshelf (or three), my dilemma was which ones to choose. So my selection criteria was their relevance to this site which, when I’m not covering holidays, tends to concentrate on Swiss mountain walks and their associated views, with a few butterflies and flowers thrown in for good measure.

With this in mind, my first choice was a big book by any standards, aptly entitled Majestics. It measures 44 x 32cm (17.3″ x 12.6″) and when you open it up you can see why it needs to be. A finalist in the Banff International Mountain Book Festival (Canada), it contains some simply amazing panoramic photos of Switzerland by professional photographer, Samuel Bitton. They are the sort of images I aspire to.

I have mentioned this second book before, but it’s constantly in use during the summer as I do my level best to identify the butterflies I’ve photographed. It’s in French and is a “Guide d’identification des papillons de jour de Suisse”, written by Vincent and Michel Baudraz. The first ‘half’ is a step-by-step guide to help you identify the butterfly. This is ok until it asks you what the underside looks like and you only have a picture of the upperside – which explains why I cannot always be sure of my naming! The second part has all the butterflies listed by family together with detailed pointers to their unique features.

Throughout the book their are beautiful and incredibly accurate coloured drawings of each. Anyone who has ever tried to identify the subtle differences between two very similar butterflies will appreciate how precise they are. Not only that but the book is ably supported by this website, which shows the distribution (albeit only in Switzerland) and has a selection of photos which can often confirm the identification.

My third choice is Our Alpine Flora by E. Landolt and K. M. Urbanska, which is published by the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC). My copy is in English, but very often it seems like another language, as the detailed descriptions mention “actinomorphic” or “pedicellate” flowers, “fruit a silique opening by 2 valves” or “lanceolate, shortly petiolate” leaves. My over-simplistic technique is to thumb through the (rather too small) photos at the back until I find one that looks like mine. I know it’s a bit hit and miss, but I’d never identify anything without it. ๐Ÿ˜Š

6 thoughts on “Some favourite books

  1. Great post Mike – the butterfly book looks excellent, and the flora is better than any that I’ve got. My big book indulgence is the complete 10 volume Encyclopedia of mammals of the world, which my husband has been buying me for my birthday for a decade. Leafing through its pages always cheers me up !

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve always been impressed with your great knowledge of butterflies, Mike. Now I know why!
    The only thing missing in the book is how to get the butterflies make a loop so you can study the underside ๐Ÿง™โ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ™‚
    The book by Samuel Bitton looks fantastic!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it’s amazing what you can take an interest in and learn once you retire! Catching butterflies on camera is a skill in itself. Sometimes they don’t want to know and other times they sit there quite happily (usually when there’s food involved). It can be very frustrating but very rewarding when you ‘capture’ them. ๐Ÿ˜Š

      Liked by 1 person

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