This is an outdated list of books I’ve been reading and recommending:
Eating Stone: Imagination and the Loss of the Wild: If you’re looking for an amazing, lyrical book about wildlife management, wild animals and our relationship to the wilderness, I highly reccomend Ellen Meloy’s Eating Stone. Pull quote: “The wildest, least tolerant animals live near the edge, ever further away, running desperately out of farther itself… Occasionally, they are caught in half-light of glimpses, revealing another visible order, one no longer co-existent, but distant and we are surprised to see the abstract wild actually has flesh.”
Lightweight Backpacking and Camping: One of the best outdoors how-to books ever written. Ryan Jordan pulled together a huge resource in this book for lightening your load in the wilderness. I wrote up some notes from the books on the Oregon Outdoor Journal blog.
Desert Solitaire — From the Edward Abbey classic: We need more predators. The sheepmen complain, it is true, that the coyotes eat some of their lambs. This is true, but do they eat enough? I mean, enough lambs to keep the coyotes sleek, healthy and well fed. That is my concern. As for the sacrifice of an occasional lamb, that seems to me a small price to pay for the support of the coyote population. The lambs, accustomed by tradition to their role, do not complain; and the sheepmen, who run their hooved locusts on the public lands and are heavily subsidized, most of them as hog-rich as they are pigheaded, can easily afford these trifling losses.
Cradle to Cradle: From the author’s Web site — “William McDonough’s book, written with his colleague, the German chemist Michael Braungart, is a manifesto calling for the transformation of human industry through ecologically intelligent design.” It is one of the most important and optimistic books written on ecology and our modern culture.
Horn of the Hunter: Robert Ruark’s safari classic should be a must-read for any contemplative hunter. I was reading this book while I was grizzly bear hunting in Alaska with my dad and it really helped put the trip in perspective. From the book: You are not shooting to kill. You are shooting to make immortal the thing you shoot. To kill just anything is a sin. To kill something that will be dead soon, but is so fine as to give you pleasure for years, is wonderful. Everything dies. You just hasten the process… I can understand killing something that you want so badly that you are willing to go to weeks of trouble and great expense to collect it, so that you will have it and enjoy it and remember it all your life.
The Last American Man: Elizabeth Gilbert’s book about Eustace Conway, The Last American Man, examines the motivations and anxieties of a modern day mountain man. It’s also a scary glimpse into the personal slings and arrows that slowly bring down an idealistic conservation hero, full of life, optimism and energy. Eustace’s Turtle Island Preserve (setting of a large part of the book) has a great web site worth checking out.
Here is one of the best quotes: Most Americans probably don’t want to live off the land in any way that would involve real discomfort, but they still catch a thrill from Eustace’s continual assurance that “You Can!” Because that’s what most of us want to hear. We don’t want to be out there in a snowstorm on the Oregon Trail, fixing the broken axle of a covered wagon; we want to feel as the we could do it if we had to. And Eustace lives as he does in order to provide us with that comforting proof.
(Updating this page irregularly.)