Category: Book Reviews

“Booking” U.S. National Parks

“Booking” U.S. National Parks

Last January I wrote about the importance of planning your summer visits to U.S. National Parks in the Western U.S. well in advance of your trip.

(Joshua Tree National Park Photo)
(Joshua Tree National Park Photo)

Even though it is still officially winter throughout America, you should act now to make your dreams of a national park vacation come true for one very important reason: The National Park Service celebrates its 100th anniversary this coming August, and that alone may prompt even more tourists to head to the hills, valleys, mountains and geothermal features of the most popular parks, such as Yellowstone and Yosemite.

Here are two recently published books that will fuel those park-visit fantasies and help you decide which parks to put on your “bucket list” of places to make it to this year.

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Great Summer “Reads”

Great Summer “Reads”

Summer.

It’s a great time to kick back and read all of those books that have been sitting, untouched, in big piles around your house or apartment.

Although summer arrived over a week ago, like all procrastinating writers, I’m just getting around to publishing this year’s list of suggested summer “reads,” compiled with the help of fellow members of Left Coast Writers who gather monthly to “talk story” and drink wine at the legendary San Francisco Bay Area bookstore, Book Passage in Corte Madera.

Procrastinator

Here are suggested books that will entertain and enlighten you between now and September.

Liza Boyd recommends The Heiresses, a novel by Sara Shepard, author of Pretty Little Liars. It’s about “the Saybrooks, a diamond family blessed with beauty and fortune yet plagued by a string of tragic and mysterious deaths…[and is a] gripping, edge-of-your-seat thriller about heiresses who must uncover a dark truth about their family before they lose the only thing money can’t buy: their lives.”

Flight Behavior, a novel by Barbara Kingsolver—whose book The Poisonwood Bible was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize— is one of two books that Deborah Tyler-French says you should read this summer. The story centers on “a young wife and mother on a failing farm in rural Tennessee who experiences something she cannot explain, and how her discovery energizes various competing factions—religious leaders, climate scientists, environmentalists, politicians—trapping her in the center of the conflict and ultimately opening up her world.”

Deborah’s second choice is Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin, “a science fiction story told by two unnamed lovers who meet in dingy backstreet rooms.”  Deborah says “plan on re-reading it because it gives me chills.”

Christine Peters says to pick up Fallout by Sadie Jones, award winning, bestselling author of The Uninvited Guests and The Outcast. It’s a novel which “explores the theater of love, the politics of theater, and the love of writing in this deeply romantic story about a young playwright in 1970s London.”

My request that Left Coast Writers members submit summer reading list recommendations to me wasn’t limited to works by writers other than themselves, so I’m happy to include Ann Simas recently released novel, Blessed Are The Eagles, which Ann says “is a mystery/thriller with a love story and mystical Hopi elements. It was an RWA Golden Heart Finalist a few years ago. It involved a lot of research and now it’s finally finished! You can see particulars about it on my website. I also have  an Ann Simas, Author page on Facebook, where I go into some detail about how I designed the cover.”

When I was growing up as a kid way back in the middle of the last century, kids and their parents piled into the family car and headed off on summer road trips. But no one that I knew back then would have dared drive from the tip of South America to Alaska’s North Slope.

In 1987, Tim Cahill, often credited with inventing modern travel writing in America, and author of Jaguars Ripped My Flesh and A Wolverine Is Eating My Leg, along with professional driver, Garry Sowerby, made such a journey in under twenty-four days.

The back cover of the paperback version of Tim’s retelling of his epic road trip, Road Fever, points out that along the way, the two men encountered “engine trouble in Patagonia,” “sadistic troopers in Peru,” “document hell in Columbia,” and “ice-slick highways in Alaska.”

Although neither you nor I are going to be literally following in Tim’s Tierra del Fuego-to-Prudhoe Bay tire tracks anytime soon, I can highly recommend that you do so figuratively, as I have done in the past, by reading Road Fever this summer.

If you need even more suggestions for summer reading after you’ve polished off those six books, peruse the Tales Told From The Road “Book Reviews” section, our June, 2012 “’Serious’ and ‘Trashy’ Summer Reading List”, and listen to “What’s on Your Summer Reading List?,” a conversation between Michael Krasny, host of KQED Radio’s “Forum” show, and Luisa Smith, head buyer for Book Passage.

(Click on the player below to listen to the show.)

Are you a science-techno nerd? Then “tune in”  on the “Your Summer Science Book List” episode of the popular public radio show “Science Friday.”

And if your favorite summer “read” didn’t make our “short list,” please post the title, author, and why you loved it, in a comment below.

(Purchases made from Amazon.com through links on this page helps Tales Told From The Road continue to bring you a wide range of travel-related stories. If you prefer to purchase you books from independent bookstores, but don’t have one near your home, click here to order from Book Passage.)