Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/585

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or has occasion to direct the reading of others, can afford to be without "The Best Reading." An explanation of the letters and stars used to indicate the character of books should have been inserted in this volume.

Winter: From the Journal of Henry D. Thoreau. Edited by H. G. O. Blake. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co. Pp. 439. Price, $1.50.

This volume is made up of passages entered by Thoreau in his journal during the winter months from 1850 to 1860, with occasional entries of earlier dates. The scenes alluded to are along the Concord River and about Lake Walden, with occasional visits to other places. These pages reveal how much of interest a lover of Nature can find in the fields and waters during the season when Nature is commonly said to be asleep, and are interspersed with reflections suggested by winter objects.

Astronomical Revelations. New York: Edward Dexter. Pp. 62. Half morocco. Price, $2.

This is a contribution to theoretical astronomy, in which the author confidently claims that "the true physical causes of the precession of the equinoctial points, the apparent secular acceleration of the moon's mean motion, the decrease in the obliquity of the ecliptic, the apparent aberration of the stars, and the apparent nutation of the earth's axis, are now for the first time made known and explained." A theory of the physical nature of the fixed stars is added, which regards them as reflections from the diversified surface of a solid shell inclosing the solar system.

Stories of our Country. Historical Series, Book HI, Part I. Compiled and Arranged by James Johonnot. Illustrated. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 207. Price, 47 cents.

The design of this book is clearly expressed in the preface: "By the use of this little work, the pupil has all the aids to reading which characterize ordinary reading books—lessons for practice, variety in style, and all the necessities of elementary elocution. Besides these, he gets all the interest that the story excites, the knowledge which it unfolds, and the sentiment which it imparts, and the reading-lesson becomes a potent force in mental and moral development." The selections relate to the early explorations of America, to colonial times, and the Revolution, with a few stories of the War of 1812 and the Mexican War. They have an intensely vivid character, which is heightened by the spirited illustrations. Such a book as this can not fail to fascinate the pupils for whom it is prepared, and turn the lesson which was a hated drudgery with the old-fashioned reading books into a delightful exercise.

Second Annual Report of the Forest Commission of the State of New York. 1886. Albany. Pp. 177.

The secretary of the commission, Mr. A. L. Train, who prepared this report, states in a prefatory note that as the commission has not been supplied with funds for investigations, experiments, surveys, etc., information obtainable only by such means can not be expected in the report. He has accordingly presented an account of what work the commission has been able to do since its appointment, together with a compilation of facts and opinions bearing on the subject of forestry, which might enlist "the aid of the people more earnestly in the important effort to maintain the remnant of the forest area still left to them." The commission has already secured the payment into the State treasury of $14,057.09 for trespasses, and for timber illegally cut on State lands, and has stopped, probably permanently, these illegal practices. Another result of its work is the suppression of forest fires during the past year.

Cottage Residences. By A. J. Downing. Edited by George E. Harney. Illustrated. New York: John Wiley & Sons. Pp. 261.

The original wide scope, refined taste, and practical character of this work made it of lasting value, and its worth was increased by the revision and enlargement which were given to its fifth edition in 1873. The guiding principle of the author was to combine the beauty of sentiment and of propriety with fitness, and with each design is given a suggestion as to the character of the natural surroundings to which it is best