Of Books and Beasts: A
Cryptozoologist’s Library
by Matt Bille
(Hangar 1 Publishing: no place of publication or publication date included
[November 2021]) (© Matt Bille/Hangar 1 Publishing – reproduced right here on a
strictly non-commercial Truthful Use foundation for academic/evaluation functions solely)

It has been some time since I final reviewed
any notable cryptozoological publications on ShukerNature, so listed here are my
ideas regarding one which I obtained lately.

Again within the Nineties and initially assisted
by fellow bibliophile Steven Shipp, I ready a bibliography of cryptozoology
books that was revealed in points 6, 7, and eight of the Centre for Fortean
Zoology’s periodical Animals and Males.
It proved so common amongst readers and crypto-researchers alike that, since
then, I’ve periodically up to date and expanded it, in order that it presently
accommodates many tons of of entries divided into a number of sections, and it may these days
be immediately accessed on-line right here, inside
my official web site.

Till final November, nevertheless, there had
by no means been a ebook devoted completely to opinions of cryptozoological books and
associated material, which thereby constituted a notable hole within the
literature appertaining to thriller beasts. However all of that modified when Matt
Bille’s Of Books and Beasts: A
Cryptozoologist’s Library
was introduced out in each hard-copy and e-book
format by Hangar 1 Publishing.

Already recognized for 2 earlier non-fiction
books dedicated to present and former cryptids alike in addition to his longstanding
curiosity in such creatures, Bille has offered a most dear service in
compiling this third providing, which for probably the most half consists of
cryptozoological ebook opinions penned by him that initially appeared on his Matt’s Sci/Tech
, plus quite a lot of further
ones specifically written for this ebook with a purpose to render his protection of the
literature extra complete.

This 311-page ebook is split into 4
sections: Cryptozoology Books; Associated Sciences; Crypto-Fiction; and A Marvelous
Miscellany. There may be additionally an explanatory introduction, plus a few
afterwords, acknowledgements, and an index/bibliography. Aside from the fantastic
front-cover image (cowl design by Doug Hajicek), there aren’t any illustrations, however these aren’t actually
obligatory in a ebook of this nature.

The Cryptozoology Books part, which by
definition is the crux of this complete publication, follows on from the ebook’s
detailed introduction, spans pp. 1-123 (roughly one third of the overall
content material), and is split into 5 subsections. These are: A Fundamental Library of
Cryptozoology (which incorporates opinions of books that Bille deems important,
seminal works of cryptozoology); Primates (reviewed books dedicated to the likes
of the yeti, bigfoot/sasquatch, and different man-beasts or ape-men); Land Animals (consists of reviewed
books documenting all method of – largely – terrestrial cryptids, together with
thriller cats, thylacine, and putative mammoths, but additionally mothman and varied
amphibious Congolese monsters just like the mokele-mbembe and emela-ntouka); Lake
and Sea Creatures (reviewed books researching freshwater monsters, sea serpents,
different marine thriller beasts); and Others (opinions of normal cryptozoology
books surveying a variety of cryptids quite than concentrating upon sure
particular varieties).

The Associated Sciences part, spanning
pp. 124-220, accommodates opinions of books that, though not devoted wholly to
cryptozoology, usually embody some crypto-content and/or cope with mainstream
zoological topics of appreciable background relevance to thriller beasts. It’s
divided into three subsections, whose respective titles readily reveal the
material of the books reviewed inside them. Specifically: Paleontology and
Evolution; Surroundings and Exploration; and Zoology of Land, Sea, and Air.

Crypto-Fiction, spanning pp. 221-254, is
a much less critical, enjoyable part through which Bille presents one subsection devoted
completely to his private High Three favorite cryptozoologically-themed novels,
and a second subsection containing opinions of a variety and sizeable quantity
of different crypto-novels. A few of these are traditional works, others are much less
acquainted, and there are a couple of that have been completely new to me however which I totally
intend to acquaint myself with in some unspecified time in the future.

Final however in no way least of the 4
sections is A Marvelous Miscellany, spanning pp. 255-272, which positively
lives as much as its title, containing opinions of books dedicated to the far fringes
of cryptozoology and past, together with beasts of mythology and folklore,
ostensibly supernatural and paranormal entities, speculative future evolution
of wildlife, and a few wholly unclassifiable however no much less fascinating topics.

In two afterwords, respectively entitled
Cryptids and Me and A Few Contributions of My Personal, spanning pp. 272-279, Bille
gives some transient ideas concerning sure cryptids that in his view might
certainly exist, and paperwork his earlier cryptozoological publications. The
the rest of the ebook consists of an acknowlegements part and an in depth
index (which additionally incorporates a bibliography).

All through this ebook, the opinions by
Bille differ significantly in size, however they’re all the time balanced, informative,
and knowledgeable. Furthermore, whereas he isn’t afraid to focus on areas or protection
that he doesn’t personally agree with, he’s by no means impolite or hostile in his
remedy of them (in contrast to the belligerent, dogmatic perspective of sure different
figures who’ve inputted inside this discipline of examine at one time or one other
down by the many years). Certainly, Bille’s goal take is what makes his
opinions so fascinating and entertaining, as a result of one is rarely struggling to
uncover the true ebook obscured behind an opaque veil of prejudice and bias,
which is a most welcome, heartening change from so many opinions of
cryptozoological works that I’ve learn  
or endured – over time.

Equally, it’s evident from the content material
of his opinions that Bille has really learn the entire books in query (in
flip reliably demonstrating simply how prolific a reader of cryptozoological
writings he’s, and subsequently a really perfect particular person to arrange a piece like this one).
That will appear an odd assertion to make, however as an writer myself I’m solely
too conscious – painfully so, from time to time – that in all too many situations, a
so-called reviewer both has by no means really learn the ebook in query or has
merely paraphrased the blurb on its again cowl or entrance flyleaf!

Over 20 years in the past, I ready my
bibliography of cryptozoology books (which incorporates not solely their titles and
authors but additionally their publishers, locations of publication, and dates of
publication) with a purpose to present newcomers and longstanding crypto-researchers
alike with a complete itemizing of revealed books on the topic – a
topic whose literature till then had by no means been introduced in such a readily
accessible method, enabling would-be readers of such books to find
immediately what was on the market and containing enough supplementary
data to help them in monitoring down such works.

Now, with Of Books and Beasts, Bille has ably augmented my efforts by
offering a superb companion work, a veritable pocket library, actually,
that gives very helpful, fair-minded synopses and private opinions regarding
round 500 such books, and which can I really feel be of immense worth to the identical
viewers of readers as my record is geared toward. There may be nothing else like this
ebook on the market, so I’m very glad that it additionally occurs to be a really worthy
contribution in its personal proper to the cryptozoological literature – one which I
spent a lot of the day dipping into after its evaluation copy arrived within the publish,
as a result of it was merely far too engrossing to place down as soon as opened! So I heartily
and unhesitatingly suggest it to anybody desirous to be taught concerning the huge
range of books these days on the market that cope with thriller beasts.

Lastly: or as Lieutenant Columbo would
say at this level within the proceedings, only one thing more… (okay, two, on this explicit
occasion – a few minor quibbles). Firstly: I am considerably bemused by
Bille’s arranging of his ebook opinions inside every subsection or part. For the
most half, it appears to be chronological (though see slightly later in my
current evaluation), from earliest to most up-to-date publication date, however this isn’t
completely adhered to. As an illustration: within the Others subsection of Part 1
(Cryptozoology Books), the primary ebook to be reviewed is Maurice Burton’s Animal Legends, revealed in 1957, which
is adopted in strict chronological order by an extra 34 titles (I am counting
the 4 Quammen books as a single entry as this was how Bille reviewed them),
the final of which is Kelly Milner Halls’s 2019 ebook Cryptid Creatures: A Subject Information. However then, for no obvious motive,
the following ebook reviewed on this similar subsection is Michael Newton’s 2007 ebook Florida’s Surprising Wildlife, after
which one other ten reviewed books comply with, organized chronologically from 2007 to
2020. Why have been these not included into the earlier 35-book chronological itemizing,
as an alternative of being separated into their very own 11-book chronological itemizing immediately
following it?

No motive is given, so I’m questioning if
these last eleven have been last-minute opinions by Bille, probably written to fill
some perceived gaps in his protection however submitted too late to be labored into
the principle physique of opinions? If that’s the case, a really quick be aware explaining this inconsistent
ordering of opinions would have been most helpful (even only a two-word subtitle –
Cease Press, or Late Additions – would have sufficed). Furthermore, for causes
once more unexplained, within the Different Crypto-Novels subsection of the Crypto-Fiction
part, and likewise all through the part A Marvelous Menagerie, the books
reviewed aren’t organized chronologically in any respect, however are as an alternative organized alphabetically,
by writer surname. Why not stick with a chronological ordering? Unusual.

Secondly: by its very nature, the content material
of this ebook is a private, subjective one, inevitably guided by Bille’s personal
explicit pursuits and influences. In different phrases, no two compilers of such a
ebook would have included the identical entries, and divided them up into sections of
the identical proportions or topics. Having mentioned that, I do really feel that extra space
ought to have been dedicated to cryptozoology books per se, and fewer to (in
explicit) the Associated Sciences part. This ebook’s distinctive facet, and no
doubt its best single promoting level, is that it’s the first one to proffer an in depth sequence of opinions of cryptozoology books, so in my
view the Associated Sciences part may have been significantly diminished, with no
critical loss to the ebook’s value, and changed by way more cryptozoology-themed
ebook opinions. As it’s, I can consider a good variety of crypto-books for which
one may anticipate finding opinions included right here, however which aren’t represented.
As an illustration, though there are a couple of opinions of books dedicated to sure
particular varieties or geographical groupings of feline cryptids, neither version of
probably the most complete ebook ever revealed on such creatures globally is
represented by a evaluation, which is clearly a serious omission. I could also be incorrect, however
wasn’t the ebook in query entitled Thriller
Cats of the World

“In search of a concise however dependable survey of probably the most noteworthy cryptozoological books previous and current? Look no additional – right here it’s!”

Dr Karl Shuker, quoted on the again cowl to Of Books and Beasts.


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