Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature by Janine Benyus (REVIEW)

Author Janine Benyus

Biomimicry looks at the ways in which we can learn by studying nature. By (surprise!) biomimicry, as it’s called. This book is surprisingly well-written, thorough, and imaginative. JB’s incredible enthusiasm for the topic is infectious, and helps make the book a quick read. You’ll find yourself quite unexpectedly agreeing that, yes, mussels are fascinating. Benyus explains topics as diverse as perennials and proteins, computer microprocessors and spiderwebs. What’s more, she does it exceptionally well.

Usefully, the chapters are more or less stand-alone items, linking up with themes from other chapters but self-contained in terms of information; you could (with the exceptions of the first and last chapters) read the chapters in this book in whatever order made sense to you. While I’d heartily encourage you to read the whole thing, you wouldn’t need to—if, for instance, your interests happened to coincide with certain chapters and not others. E.g., if you were interested in biomimicry in agriculture but not, say, materials science, you could read chapter 2 and skip chapter 4. Or vice-versa. Or whatever. (Another benefit of this arrangement is that reading the book does not require intense concentration. You the reader do not need to remember a complex process from page 56 in order to understand another idea presented on page 187.)

While in some ways pessimistic (mounting ecological problems are not exactly a positive side-note to the whole endeavor), the book is for the most part upbeat and optimistic—convinced that, where human creativity alone is not enough to overcome the odds, human creativity and natural creativity together may be able to provide the basis for a feasible solution.

A wonderful, important book.