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?


Ken G said...

If you have not read anything by Paul Quinnett, you should add one to your list. I suggest Fishing Lessons first, then Darwin's Bass or Pavlov's Trout.

As a short bio on him says:

Dr Quinnett is a clinical psychologist and the Director of the QPR Institute, an educational organization dedicated to preventing suicide.

You can download a book by him for free that's called The Forever Decision. I know, a depressing topic, but well worth the read.

Oh, and not picking on you Mike, but blogger in general and anyone else that uses it, they changed their captcha. I have to recycle it 3 or 4 times before I can get one I can read. On another blogger site I gave up completely and never bothered leaving a comment. Too bad, it was a good comment.

loftend said...

This winter I read a really good fly fishing related book. It was called "An Entirely Synthetic Fish: How Rainbow Trout Beguiled America and Overran the World" by Anders Halverson. It is a non-fiction book about how the rainbow trout was introduced around the world and how it has damaged rivers, other species, and how it is now trying to be fixed.

Mike Sepelak said...

Thanks for the pointer, Ken. I'll look into Quinnette after I whittle this stack away. As for the captcha, I've turned it off for now and we'll see if the spambots find me once again. It's sad that we must go to such lengths.

And Halverson's book has also been on my radar screen, Loften. Thanks for the reminder.

TC/Trout Underground said...

I've got in the neighborhood of 35 books on my Goodreads "To-Read" list, which would be daunting except Goodreads also tells me I read better than 60 last year, a lot of which were ebooks.

I find it easier to get through a book when I've got it available on my phone and ereader (I can sneak in a few minutes when I'm waiting for someone, which because I'm an early guy happens a lot).

I also recently subjected myself to a lot of writing books, and can safely say I get more instruction from a collection of Garrison Keillor essays.

I didn't know the Gibson essay book existed; I'll have to look it up.

Anyway, good luck.

Mike Sepelak said...

Can't go wrong with the Garrison Keillor essays. No siree. And my first generation Kindle gets a little use, now and again. But there's something about having a book in your hand.

Unknown said...

Great list. A few I've read and a few I haven't. But that Roosevelt book is also on my 'to read ' list.

Cope Mahagan said...

My list of books for the summer is short right now, but I'm sure I'll be reading your blog. Thanks Mike

Mark Coleman said...

Just finished The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman and a recent release written by a friend of mine titled The Iguana Tree, now reading The Ask by Sam Lipsyte. Also on the docket is Mari Sandoz's biography of Crazy Horse. As always seems to happen, though, new titles cut in line.

Sydney said...

I'm currently reading The River Why. Have you? I prefer holding the book too and walking in old bookstores and hanging around.


Mike Sepelak said...

Mark, thanks for the pointers to new things!

I'm afraid that I have not read it, Sydney. A DVD of the recent movie sits here on the desk and I watched the first ten minutes the other day. Not so sure about it. I'd probably be better served reading the book, as is most often the case.

Mike Sepelak said...

I can't believe that no one has called me on my "made up" word. :-)

Chris said...

Ah, yes... and, now you've seen more of me than you bargained for... (that sounds dirty, huh?) Thanks for the shout-out!

Mike Sepelak said...

Any time, my brother. Any time.