RaveThe Los Angeles Review of BooksToday’s sheltered-in-place readers will be thrilled to encounter a writer who believes that physical attendance isn’t always necessary for true engagement ... Schalansky treats each of the 12 objects cataloged in her new book with an almost religious awe, like a believer giving herself up to be inhabited by spirits ... Throughout the book, Schalansky studies and adopts the lexicons of bygone worlds. In her translation, Jackie Smith has made similar forays into diverse English lexicons. Dozens of the words were new to me...Since my English fluency seems to end at the pavement’s edge (almost all of these words describe the natural world), it’s no wonder I found the Ryck River vignette rather tedious. My experience confirms the seriousness of recent concerns about environmental literacy: some have proposed that, as children spend less time outside, they have less occasion to learn the vocabulary of the natural world ... Given Schalansky’s interest in extinct species and forgotten landscapes, An Inventory of Losses is sure to be read as a text about the climate crisis — an archive of a vanishing natural world, as well as a primer for imagining all that’s been lost ... a project like Schalansky’s is broadly useful to a society unable to fully apprehend its losses: the true number of COVID-19 deaths, for example, or the true count of victims of racist violence ... Schalansky’s book, too, is limited. It is not a full inventory but rather a dozen selections from an imaginary, unabridged list of all the world’s losses. The impulse to catalog, rather than the cataloged items themselves, is at the center of the project ... in the final analysis, Schalansky’s core message remains true: in looking for lost things, we necessarily reorient ourselves. Remembering isn’t inherently heroic, but forgetting our own responsibility to the present is tragic. Indeed, our task is to engage in politically motivated, thoughtful memory projects.