• An Immense World

  • How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us
  • By: Ed Yong
  • Narrated by: Ed Yong
  • Length: 14 hrs and 17 mins
  • 4.9 out of 5 stars (222 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Enter a new dimension—the world as it is truly perceived by other animals—from the Pulitzer Prize-winning, New York Times bestselling author of I Contain Multitudes.

“A stunning achievement, steeped in science but suffused with magic.”—Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of The Gene

The Earth teems with sights and textures, sounds and vibrations, smells and tastes, electric and magnetic fields. But every kind of animal, including humans, is enclosed within its own unique sensory bubble, perceiving but a tiny sliver of our immense world. 

In An Immense World, author and Pulitzer Prize–winning science journalist Ed Yong coaxes us beyond the confines of our own senses, allowing us to perceive the skeins of scent, waves of electromagnetism, and pulses of pressure that surround us. We encounter beetles that are drawn to fires, turtles that can track the Earth’s magnetic fields, fish that fill rivers with electrical messages, and even humans who wield sonar like bats. We discover that a crocodile’s scaly face is as sensitive as a lover’s fingertips, that the eyes of a giant squid evolved to see sparkling whales, that plants thrum with the inaudible songs of courting bugs, and that even simple scallops have complex vision. We learn what bees see in flowers, what songbirds hear in their tunes, and what dogs smell on the street. We listen to stories of pivotal discoveries in the field, while looking ahead at the many mysteries that remain unsolved. 

Funny, rigorous, and suffused with the joy of discovery, An Immense World takes us on what Marcel Proust called “the only true voyage . . . not to visit strange lands, but to possess other eyes.”

©2022 Ed Yong (P)2022 Random House Audio

What listeners say about An Immense World

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  • Overall
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If you’ve never read about the wonder of animal sensory capabilities this is for you

If you’re a complete newbie to the wonderful sensory capabilities animals have compared to humans then this book should fill you with awe. If you already know dogs have a keen sense of smell, birds can sense the Earth’s magnetic fields for direction, and that beasts like dolphins and bats use echolocation/sonar then this book if mostly a rehash of much of what you already know. Because the book was mostly a rehash to me I was bored by it, with just a few things of new interest to me.

8 people found this helpful

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I really wanted to like it

I returned this book with regret that it just wasn't right for me. Tons and tons of scientific terminology and facts if that what you're into. I just wanted a cool explanation and some really interesting facts I could enjoy

3 people found this helpful

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Every Minute is Mind-Blowing

This subject has always fascinated me, and Yong puts it together in a way that is accessible, entertaining, and fascinating. I’ve been looking forward to every minute I can spend listening to this book and I look forward to a second listen.

3 people found this helpful

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Exceptional!

Highly recommended. Opens up a new perspective on animals, our senses, and how we all perceive the world as individuals, and how we impact each other.

1 person found this helpful

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What’s it like to be human?

What a delightful and curious book. Not only educational, but entertaining too!

I hope millions of people listen/read this and really think about how extraordinary their umwelt are. There’s so much out there to be appreciated, so much we don’t even know.

Being able to recognize the intricacies of life on a global scale is uniquely human. We ought to cherish and protect what we’ve got.

1 person found this helpful

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Opens not only your eyes, but every sense.

This book is so much fun. I learned something new on every page, it opened up my thinking in regards to all of the animal kingdom and our place amongst it. Wow, such an incredible read/listen.

Highly recommend.

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Fascinating

Listened on my morning walks so my husband had to get used to my burst back in with some new exciting facts about snakes, birds, bats or humans. Great narration. Highly recommend.

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Expansive, poetic and mind blowing!

This was a wonderful audio book! It was the perfect compelation of data, ecology, poetry, story and social justice. Ed Yong's voice is soothing and sharp. This book fed my nerdy curiosity while also calling me to practice with this gift/human talent of imagining other umwelts. So rich! Worthy of deep attention! Highly recommended!

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Science and story, beautifully read!

Ed Yong brings together science and storytelling in a way that’s illuminating, educational, and accessible. He provides just enough description of sensory structures and chemistry to help the reader to visualize the mechanism behind the animals’ perceptions, without so much that reading or listening to this book would be daunting. His writing has an air of storytelling about it that invites the reader in.

Yong’s narration of the audiobook adds another layer of enjoyment for me. Unlike some authors who are so in love with the words they’ve chosen that their own narration can be overwhelmingly precious, Yong simply lends his voice to the story he has to tell.

Finally, although the book would be fabulous without this, I do appreciate an author on a scientific subject who can quote the “Insane Clown Posse“ to good effect!

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Great book!

If you have an interest in biology/the natural world I would highly recommend this book. Lends itself well to some deeper thoughts (ie sensing/perception is not a passive act; mankind’s unique abilities that render us responsible; other realms co-existing within our own) and is also jam packed with cool animal facts. I loved this book more than any I’ve read in a long time. As someone who worked in a lab on lobsters’ neural network, and who is fairly well versed in neurobiology as well as random animal facts (as they are my childrens’ endless passion), I found tons and tons of new information to be fascinated by, and loved the way Ed Young helped the listener visualize it.