Carl Safina’s educated anthropomorphism and Alex Preston’s vivid bird portraits are the wild stuff to illuminate our place in the natural world

Which books best depict our relationship with other species without being oversentimental or too philosophical?
Carlos Lugo-Ortiz, 52, professor of biology and entomology, Ponce, Puerto Rico

Charles Foster, author of the Baillie Gifford-longlisted Being a Beast (Profile, £8.99), writes:
The stipulation “over-sentimental” indicates, I assume, impatience with anthropomorphism. I’m impatient with that impatience. Anthropomorphism, as the American biologist Carl Safina puts it, is a “our best first guess”. We share almost all our anatomical and physiological hardware and software with non-human mammals and birds, and we know that animals have emotions too (ask Darwin, who wrote a very good book on the subject). If you want to know what an animal is feeling, start by asking how you’d feel. Then read lots of scientific papers, and modify your conclusion.

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Read More Book clinic: which books best capture our relationship with animals?

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