Been a while since I did a set of book reviews. So far into the year of 2017, I’ve picked up and put down 14 books. Reading Thoreau’s Walden now, deeeeppppp…
Not all books are applicable for the blog and not all were worth reading, but here’s my Top 5 in rank order and “must read” to “if you’re curiosity is piqued, consider reading it”.
#1 – One Man’s Wilderness. Simply put, it is one man’s (Dick Proenneke) diary of 18 months living in the bush. The cabin he creates with his own two hands is simply remarkable, the appreciation he has for nature is inspiring, and his ingenuity and work ethic will leave you amazed.
#2 – As Far As the Eye Can See. This Appalachian Trail through hiker’s account is one of the best hiking memoirs I’ve read. A student recommended this book to me a couple years ago and I finally found a nice used copy to buy. David Brill is a simple writer but the writing is elegant at the same time. In the years past his initial through hike, he has re-visited the trail numerous times and he alludes to those repeat hikes with the maturity of someone who is experienced in both trail and in life.
#3 – The Forest Unseen. I picked this title up off the New shelf at Barnes & Noble only to find out later that the author is a biology professor with whom a couple of my OSU students have indirect experience. Small world. Anyways, the author periodically visits a single square meter of woodland and describes the nature and natural processes he sees occurring within that small vacuum throughout an entire year. The book has won numerous awards and topics range from the invisible microscopic threads of fungi to the gut biota of vultures to the effects of deer browse on forest regeneration. It’s exceptionally well written, very sciencey in places, beautifully poetic in others.
#4 – Anthill. E.O. Wilson, internationally renowned conservationist, bridges the gap between his personal childhood and graduate education in this fictional novel of a young man caught in the crosshairs of family drama, social classes, preservation, conservation, business, and development. I really enjoyed it but some might find some of the anti-religious overtones and violence off-putting. It’s Edward Abbey’s Monkey Wrench Gang meets post-Antebellum South meets graduate research thesis on social behavior of ants. It’s interesting.
#5 – Wildlife Law: A Primer. This book could easily have topped this list but I put it last simply because it’s a textbook. That said, it’s easily the most engaging textbook I’ve ever read. In preparation to teach Wildlife Conservation Policy this spring semester, I read the book and based quite a few of my lectures on its text. It doesn’t delve too deeply into any one issue but covers the gamut from private versus public land ownership (a HUGE issue currently in the balance for American sportsmen) to the Endangered Species Act to the minutia of trespassing, wildlife harassment, liability for dangerous animal owners, and other issues of criminal law interpretation and enforcement. For anyone wanting to boost their capacity to engage politically-charged environment and natural resources issues at the local, state, or federal level, I would label this a “must read”.