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A little pleasure reading

Last semester, I hardly did any reading for fun. In law school, you spend so much of your time reading for classes, that it was hard to justify pleasure reading in my spare time. Especially when autumn is such a wonderful time in Vermont and you want to be outside as much as you can.

This semester is obviously very different for me since I’m in Australia doing independent research on water policy as a Fulbright Scholar. One very noticeable difference is my commute to and from school. At VLS, I was driving about 25 or 30 minutes to get to SoRo. Unless I ride my bike, I walk about 10 minutes to the train, ride the train for about 30 or 35 minutes, and then walk another 7 minutes to my office. I’ve decided that the train ride is an excellent time for me to do some pleasure reading. And, what better to read about than Australia. Right now, I’m reading an excellent book, which has very little to do with the law.

It’s called Country, by Tim Flannery. I highly recommend it to anyone, and especially to someone in law school because it’s really pretty different from most of what you’d read for your courses, yet is still related–at least to environmental law and policy.

The book is about the author and his quest to figure out the ancestors of the modern kangaroos, and particularly how they evolved from possums to kangaroos. It’s interesting from a paleontology point of view, but the author also makes several observations about land use in Australia, particularly in rural areas. Since I’m here to study water policy, and particularly the balance between extracting water for irrigation and leaving the water in the river for environmental purposes, it’s interesting for me to read about some of the land uses that have caused serious harm to ecosystems in Australia.

Also, last week we were fortunate enough to stop at Naracoorte Caves National Park, one of Australia’s few World Heritage Sites. The place is famous for limestone caves that have very good fossils of Australia’s megafauna, including the leaf-eating kangaroo—the closest a kangaroo will ever get to a giraffe. Essentially, animals fell into these pit fall traps, and either died immediately or starved to death deep down in the limestone caves. It was quite an awful way for these animals to go, but it’s been excellent for science, and was well worth the visit. And, it’s made me enjoy my pleasure reading even more!

Anyways, not that you’ll have that much time to read in law school, but it’s certainly worth getting your head out of the law books and into something entirely different every once in awhile. And, I highly recommend this book to anyone, even if you’ve never thought of visiting Australia or about kangaroo fossils!

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