Friday, June 8, 2012
My Summer Reading
I’ve been bad. Very bad. I’ve not been reading.
There’s been lots of reasons for this, but none of them are good enough to excuse the deplorable lapse. For, if I truly aspire to someday become a passable writer, I simply must read more. Those that think otherwise are fooling themselves.
It doesn’t have to be Shakespeare, or Tolstoy, or Faulkner. It just needs to be something that speaks to you, something that draws you into someone else’s point of view for a while, something that teaches you, or not, but subliminally imprints language and it’s proper, or thoughtfully improper, use upon your brain. Learn, if you will, by osmosis.
But mostly, something that makes you think.
So, with summer’s arrival, it’s time to start whittling away at the small stack of books that have accumulated in my “read next” pile. My summer book stack, from top to bottom, looks like this:
Brook Trout and the Writing Life – Craig Nova
Craig’s from just up the street, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the title alone hints at my attraction to the book. Fly fishing, writing, living - and how he’s dealt, over the years, with the uneasy reconciliation of the three. Right up my alley.
Twelve by Twelve – William Powers
An examination of the logistics and the lifestyle of kicking the traditional American dream square in the ass and living in a twelve-foot-by-twelve foot cabin in rural North Carolina. I’ve visited this place, for it, and others like it, exists here in my home county. A fascinating book filled with the quirky characters that I know as neighbors and the headspace that I am more and more attracted to each day.
Distrust That Particular Flavor – William Gibson
Gibson may be the only “sure thing” purchase I’ll make when it comes to authors. Neuromancer rocked my world and it blows my mind that it was written nearly thirty years ago. Distrust is a series of non-fiction articles, “reportage from the technological and cultural frontiers of the evolving world.” I can’t wait to find out what’s ahead of us. Gibson always seems to know.
No Shortage of Good Days – Jack Gierach
Okay, a no-brainer, except that I’ve had it for several weeks and haven’t worn the cover off of it already. Sex, Death and Fly Fishing was my introduction to the trout bum’s trout bum and I have yet to get my fill. And speaking of bums...
Shin Deep – Chris Hunt
I first read this book a year ago, just before spending a few days fishing with Chris in Montana, to know what I was getting into. I have since spent another week in his company, chasing redfish around the Texas gulf coast, and have kept up with him through these intertubes. I'm betting that a second reading will reveal nuances that a stranger would have missed, then, and that a good friend will chuckle at now.
Accidental Birds of the Carolinas – Marjorie Hudson
Another close-to-home selection. Marjorie teaches writing at the community college just eight miles up the road and relates her immersion in North Carolina living – a thirty-year process. More of my neighbors will undoubtedly pop up in the pages, in one form or another. I do know that a satire of the local “planned community” is included and I wickedly await the reading.
A Home on the Field – Paul Cuadros
A final local selection, this book features my other outdoor passion, soccer, in the true story of a Hispanic community struggling to find footing in our Chatham County seat. Fútbol was their respite, their escape, their expression, and ultimately their bridge to acceptance and respect in this rural southern community.
Points Unknown – Edited by David Roberts
A gift from my good friend and neighbor, Sam, this is a compilation of “The greatest Adventure Writing of the Twentieth Century." From the summit of Everest to the depths of the oceans, this compilation, put together by the editors of Outside, should be fascinating and inspiring.
Colonel Roosevelt – Edmund Morris
The third in the award-winning trilogy examining the life of one of our country’s most fascinating characters, Theodore Roosevelt. The original work, the Pulitzer Prize winning Theodore Rex was fascinating, depicting Teddy’s early years and his genesis as an outdoorsman, politician, and champion of the conservation of our natural heritage. It hooked me, carried me through The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, and I’ve anxiously awaited the finale.
So that’s what I’ll be reading this summer.
How about you?