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Eager by Ben Goldfarb

March 3, 2020

Beavers are basically natural chainsaws— ecological engineers capable of building structures that can change whole landscapes. But beavers can do more than just that. Worried about water pollution? They can tackle that. Alarmed about climate change? Go to a beaver. Sacred about salmon runs, erosion, and wildfires? Leave it to the beavers.

This is where the book Eager: The Surprising Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter by Ben Goldfarb takes the stage. No other books like it exist. It is the only volume that combines humor, ecology, biology, and history. It sums up all of the topics into one giant “neatly written essay with a spine” giving a lot of information, and at the same time all while keeping the tone light and humorous and giving the centuries-old credit to beavers that they deserve. 

This book does not have much of a plot, so one would think: how does Goldfarb keep the reader interested? Well, he effectively adds a good amount of humor to the book, keeping the tone lively and bright. Sometimes the hilarity is subtle, but it always pops up at the end of a chapter, drawing the reader into the next chapter.

Another feature Goldfarb added effectively into this book–to keep the reader interested– is he spaces out information that is alike (not the same, but alike) evenly. For example, there are two or three parts about beaver deceivers, which he does not clump together into one giant chapter. He separates them into two or three chapters and describes all the differences in detail. The reason that this makes the book more interesting is because he gives the readers a chance to actually see the differences between all the different companies’ solutions and products.

The last trademark that I thought that Goldfarb effectively used in this book was the diversity of topics that he chose to describe beavers. One of the most interesting was history. The reason that this was interesting is because one would think that beavers are quite a modern animal, but actually the first beavers appeared over 201 million years ago ( they looked nothing like the beavers we know today). Now that’s an interesting fact. Another topic that Goldfarb incorporates is ecology. He states how beavers improve water quality, help stop climate change, improve salmon runs, and halt wildfires (all in like…. five different chapters).  Goldfarb has not written any other books. However, he is a journalist and has written many articles for a variety of websites, magazines and newspapers. I would rate this book a ten out of ten and would recommend this book to anybody who likes history, comedy, biology, ecology, and/or nonfiction books. This is a book not to be missed by anyone, nonfiction or fiction readers alike. Eager is so engaging that it will bring readers who favor different genres together. 


Chelsea Green Publishing, 304 pages

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