Reading recommendation: Notebooks from New Guinea


After recently having two posts about a project in Papua New Guinea (PNG), people who want to know more about what research can be like in that pacific country might be interested in the recently published book “Notebooks from New Guinea”.

Novotny book cover

In short essays the Czech Entomologist Vojtech Novotny describes his experiences with local tribes, remote research stations, the spirits of the forests, driving a car when having a malaria attack and many other aspects of daily life but also deep reflections coming from ten years of field work there.

Not knowing PNG myself I can’t really judge how close it is to the reality. What I can say is that it was fun to read and offered some amazing perspectives not only about the people of PNG, but also about the Czech Republic, scientists, research and nature conservation in general.

I can only agree with the conclusion of Alan Steward in his recent TREE review on the book: “It will also generate a deep respect for the scientists who manage to carry out top-quality groundbreaking research in this most challenging environment”.

And if you ever planned to go to PNG, take Novotny’s advice: “The tropics are safer than you think. After all, most of humanity lives there more or less contentedly. So keep to the same level of caution, paranoia, and hypochondria as you are used to at home.” (Well, but don’t forget to take anti-malaria meds with you!)


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