Bonus Reading: “Venomous” by Christie Wilcox

Bonus Reading: Venomous: How Earth’s Deadliest Creatures Mastered Biochemistry by Christie Wilcox

List Progress: 34/30

Sometimes you just need a book full of intriguing trivia. Venomous: How Earth’s Deadliest Creatures Mastered Biochemistry, a non-fiction book by Christie Wilcox, would probably leave anyone with a biology, chemistry, or toxinology background cold, but is fascinating for a lay person. Wilcox crafts an accessible, approachable dive into the world of venomous snakes, spiders, fish, snails, and every other animal under the sun, as well as a peek into the world of venom experts. There is little one could actually do with this information, but sometimes it’s just fun to have.

Wilcox has spent years studying venomous lionfish, and sharing her admiration for venomous creatures with lay people. She takes the stance that they should be respected and approached with care, but not feared or hated. These animals have as much intrinsic value as any other creature, and an added scientific value by having biologically complex venoms that can teach scientists a great deal about bodies, cells, evolution and medicine. There are plenty of stories about researchers making reckless mistakes and getting stung or bitten, but even more stories of scientific breakthroughs that started with a snake bite. The chapters are divided by different categories of venoms, from those that cause paralysis, to extreme pain, to severe tissue damage and more. Some parts might require a strong stomach, but Wilcox is clearly aiming to awe, not disgust.

Even if Venomous is the beginning and end of your interest in venoms and toxins, you will leave it with a greater appreciation for what nature can do and a handful of intriguing tidbits to pull out at parties. And for a casual science book, that is a pretty good result.

Would I Recommend It: Yes.

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