- Chasing the Sea by Tom
- Fascinating travel narrative of
- Two Roads to Dodge City by
Adam and Nigel Nicolson
- Father and son do the great
American road trip starting from opposite coasts and
meeting in the middle. Based on Adam's writing in Sea
Room and on the excerpts from Nigel's journal
included in Sea Room, I had high expectations for
this book. While I did enjoy the book, I kept waiting for
them get to the heart of the American experience or at
least to acknowledge the tradition of American road trip
literature. I found myself wondering if either of them
had read Travels with Charley or The Air
Conditioned Nightmare, let alone On the Road.
They did both seem well-informed on the Lewis and Clark
expedition and Adam seemed to have read some Steinbeck.
The other objective of the book, their examination of the
father-son relationship (FSR as they call it), was very
low key and thoroughly British.
- End of the Earth by Peter
- Travelogue of two birding trips to
Antarctica with Victor Emmanuel.
- Notes and Sketches from the
Wild Coasts of Nipon by Henry Craven St.
- The son doesn't have quite the
transcendent writing skills of his father, but he does
talk a lot about the birds he sees and shoots in Japan,
Korea, and China. There are some great stories about
chasing pirates off the coast of China too.
- Sea Room by Adam
- Nicolson owns three islands in the
Hebrides, which his father (son of Vita Sackville-West
and Harold Nicolson) bought when he was a college student
and passed on to Adam. He writes about them with great
love and insight. And, as if I were not already convinced
that Scottish writers are obsessed with rats, there's a
fabulous several page account of the rats on the Shiant
Islands and how the senior Nicolson once invited some
pretty girls to the islands to impress them and the rats
ended up spoiling it for him. I can't help wondering if
the Nicolosons, pére et fils, got the rat riff
inspiration from Charles St. John.
- A Tour in Sutherlandshire
by Charles St. John
- I want to go to the Scottish
Highlands right now! Also I want to learn to write like
St. John. I want to learn to look at the landscape like
St. John does. I can't say enough about how much I like
his writing. Surely it says something odd about me that
the best new writer I've discovered this year has been
dead for well over a hundred years. Who says dead white
European males don't have anything to say to us in the
- The Natural History of
Moray by Charles St. John
- Every detail of life in the
Scottish highlands exquisitely described... I may be
developing an overwhelming need to visit the
- Prague by Arthur
- A novel about how real
life, the hip, happening life, is always somewhere else.
In this case a bunch of American expats in Budapest after
the fall of communism sit around wishing they were in
Prague. Great descriptions of Budapest
- Banvard's Folly by Paul
- Fascinating stories of obscure
inventors, thinkers, forgers, and losers.
- Long River Winding by Jim
- There are a million stories in the
Connecticut River Valley. These are several of the most
- St. Peter's Umbrella by
- It's an umbrella not a
- The Orchard by Adele
- Saving the family farm
during the great depression.
- In the Land of the Blue
Poppies by Frank Kingdon Ward
- Plant hunting in
- Birding on Borrowed Time by
- Memoir of the top birder, the
first to list 8000 species. When diagnosed with terminal
melanoma and given a few months to live she went birding
-- for the next 18 years. Worth reading for the glimpse
into the mind that could chase down that many
- Living with Seabirds by
- A wonderful and very readable
account of Nelson 's experiences studying gannets and
their relatives the boobies in the process of becoming
the world expert on gannets. It actually made me want to
live on a guano covered rock for a couple of years
watching and weighing seabirds.
- Forbush and the Penguins by
- Forbush alone in Antarctica.
Forbush crazed by loneliness and blizzards. Penguins.
Skuas. Penguin guano. A tour de force.
- Village Japan by Malcolm
- Life in the remote Japanese
village of Sora at the end of the 20th century is still
close to the rhythms of the land, but for how much
- Crab Wars by William
- Horseshoe crabs at the center of
economic, medical, and political controversy. A quick
read and well worth it.
- Sixpence House by Paul
- Live the used book lover's
fantasy: move to Hay-on-Wye, if you can find a house you
can afford that isn't falling down. Plenty of obscure
- Trespassers on the Roof of the
World by Peter Hopkirk
- Gate crashers of Lhasa from the
mid 19th century to the mid 20th century. See, if you
make it forbidden, then everybody wants to go there.
Human psychology 101. Too bad the lamas missed that
- Newfoundland and its Untrodden
Ways by John G. Millais
- See April
April 27: they'll
always have cod.
- The Wild Sports and Natural
History of the Highlands by Charles St.
- Fabulous! See April
- Logbook for Grace by Robert
- Chronologically this comes between
Sails and Whales and Of Whales and Men as
Murphy's trip to South Georgia was in 1911 at the very
end of old Yankee whaling and the beginning of "modern"
- Of Whales and Men by R.B.
- Mid-twentieth century whaling on a
modern factory ship. See March
life in spring.
- Sails and Whales by Capt.
- A late 19th/early 20th century
whaling memoir. See March 24:
life in spring.
- Spring in Washington by
- Well deserving of its place as a
classic in birding literature. See March
the chain bridge.
- Cat Culture: The Social World
of a Cat Shelter by Janet Alger and Steven
- The authors apply ethnographic
methods to a sociological study of a cat shelter. Very
academic, but informative once I managed to get past the
academic structure and jargon. Good insights into the
social relationships among cats in the shelter
environment. See February 27:
books , March 6:
- The Tail of the Tip-Off by
Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown
- Mrs. Murphy and friends solve
another crime wave in Crozet, Virginia, which seems to
have a higher murder rate per capita than even Cabot
Cove! The cats are smart and thoughtful and funny and way
more interesting than the people. The plot is well
crafted and a good puzzle, it kept me guessing right up
'til the last 5 pages. See March
- Winter World by Bernd
- I loved this. He describes how
many of the animals (and some plants) in northern New
England get through the winter. He explains biological
stuff in plain language. Great read. See
February 27: cats,birds,
- The Cat Who Brought Down the
House by Lillian Jackson Braun
- The 25th in the Cat Who series.
It's better than The Cat Who Went Up the Creek,
but not as good as the earlier ones. See
February 27: cats,birds,
books , March 3:
- The Measure of All Things
by Ken Alder
- The development of the metric
system intertwines with the French Revolution.
Fascinating reading. I never thought much before about
what weights and measures have to do with politics. See
February 27: cats,birds,
books, March 3:
- Married to the Job by Ilene
- Selfobject? Affective connection?
Won't somebody please tell me what it means to
have a life?
- One Whaling Family by
- Three narratives of whaling
voyages by members of the Williams family. The best by
far is Eliza Azelia Williams's journal of her first
whaling voyage from 1858 to 1861. She gave birth to two
of her children on the trip. The son, William Fish
Williams, describes two of his own whaling voyages in the
rest of the book. The mother's journal is more immediate
and compelling because it was written as she went along.
The son's tale is a memoir written many many years later.
See this summary/review
in the NY Review of Books.
Not Moby Dick, but then what else is?
- Moby Dick by Herman
- That whale thing... See
- Lafcadio Hearn's Japan
edited by Donald Richie
- Sort of a "greatest hits" of
Lafcadio Hearn essays, including In the Cave of