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The Language of Butterflies

How Thieves, Hoarders, Scientists, and Other Obsessives Unlocked the Secrets of the World's Favorite Insect

In this “deeply personal and lyrical book” (Publishers Weekly) from the New York Times bestselling author of The Horse, Wendy Williams explores the lives of one of the world’s most resilient creatures—the butterfly—shedding light on the role that they play in our ecosystem and in our human lives.

“[A] glorious and exuberant celebration of these biological flying machines…Williams takes us on a humorous and beautifully crafted journey” (The Washington Post). From butterfly gardens to zoo exhibits, these “flying flowers” are one of the few insects we’ve encouraged to infiltrate our lives. Yet, what has drawn us to these creatures in the first place? And what are their lives really like? In this “entertaining look at ‘the world’s favorite insect’” (Booklist, starred review), New York Times bestselling author and science journalist Wendy Williams reveals the inner lives of these delicate creatures, who are far more intelligent and tougher than we give them credit for.

Monarch butterflies migrate thousands of miles each year from Canada to Mexico. Other species have learned how to fool ants into taking care of them. Butterflies’ scales are inspiring researchers to create new life-saving medical technology. Williams takes readers to butterfly habitats across the globe and introduces us to not only various species, but “digs deeply into the lives of both butterflies and [the] scientists” (Science magazine) who have spent decades studying them.

Coupled with years of research and knowledge gained from experts in the field, this accessible “butterfly biography” explores the ancient partnership between these special creatures and humans, and why they continue to fascinate us today. “Informative, thought-provoking,” (BookPage, starred review) and extremely profound, The Language of Butterflies is a “fascinating book [that] will be of interest to anyone who has ever admired a butterfly, and anyone who cares about preserving these stunning creatures” (Library Journal).

Photograph by Rich Maclone

Science journalist Wendy Williams has spent her life outdoors, either on the back of a horse, on skis, or on her own two feet. She has spent a great deal of time in a variety of countries in Africa, walking in the fields and forests of Europe, and exploring North American mountain chains and prairies. She lives on Cape Cod in Massachusetts with her husband and her Border Collie Taff. She is the author of The Horse and The Language of Butterflies.

"Narrator Angela Brazil brings spirit and animation to Wendy Williams's personal look at one of nature's most cherished, admired, and vulnerable species. The study of butterflies has never been far from the collecting of specimens, and that pursuit has attracted more than its share of 'thieves, hoarders, scientists, and other obsessives.' These make for a high romance, for which Brazil proves the spot-on voice. It's truly amazing how far and high butterflies roam, and Williams's narrative takes us around the world and to some of its most obscure research facilities. Informative, engaging, revealing both human and insect behavior, this audiobook offers a satisfying accompaniment to your own backyard studies."

– AudioFile Magazine

More books from this author: Wendy Williams