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What we’re reading: January 2017

From a mother bear and cub scaling a near-vertical Peruvian mountain to jaguar wrestling with a caiman in an Amazon river, relive key moments from the BBC series Planet Earth II

What we’re reading: January 2017

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A decade after David Attenborough and the BBC blew our minds with Planet Earth — raising the bar ludicrously high for all subsequent nature docs — he’s back with the sequel. If you haven’t yet seen this six-part series on BBC1, then get ye to iPlayer to watch Sir David lend his enquiring mind, inimitable tones, and impressively game 90–year-old body to an exploration of how animals meet the challenges of surviving in the most iconic habitats on Earth. Or, if you can’t stand the heart-stopping jeopardy of watching, say, the tragic fairy tern incubating an egg that will never hatch, or heroic hatchling marine iguanas being mobbed by gangs of racer snakes, then try this book.

It doesn’t squirm or squeal out a distracting survival cry; it does contain over 200 photographs from the Beeb’s Natural History Unit, accompanied by text from naturalist, broadcaster and nature author, Stephen Moss.

There’s a foreword from Sir David himself, followed by seven chapters (divided into terrains: Jungles, Mountains, Deserts, Grasslands, Islands, and Cities), packed with insider quotes from the series’ producers, plus one chapter, Tales, where frontline producers and cameramen reveal their best and stickiest moments. From rare spectacles like a Arctic caribou migration and capturing the ‘ghost cat’ (snow leopard) in the Himalayas to behind-the-scenes moments, this captures wildlife broadcasting at its best.

Planet Earth II, A New World Revealed, by Stephen Moss, is published by BBC Books. RRP: £25

Parisian perspectives

Paris Street Tales
Short stories, each associated with Paris. Showing how the city has changed over the years, the 18 newly translated tales range from the 19th century to the present day, penned by such well-known names as Colette, Maupassant, Didier Daeninckx, and Simenon. OUP Oxford (RRP: £10.99).

The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue Des Martyrs
New in paperback, this is a literary tour of the author’s favourite Paris street, Rue Des Martyrs, a place where, among other events, the patron saint of France was beheaded, Degas and Renoir painted circus acrobats, and Truffaut filmed. Norton (RRP: £9.99). 

The Disappearance of Zola
The French novelist’s little-known period of exile in England from 1898-1899 (he left Paris with nothing but the clothes he was wearing and his nightshirt) is uncovered in this new book by former Children’s Laureate and Francophile, Michael Rosen. Faber & Faber (RRP: £16.99).

Published in the Jan/Feb 2017 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)