Set in fictional Howland, Massachusetts, spanning from September 11 to Occupy Wall Street, Dee’s novel ponders the necessary sacrifices for a bit of peace. Manhattan hedge fund manager Philip Hadi ostensibly seeks a remote idyll where he can continue his business without post-9/11 fear. Contractor Mark Firth, having lost all of his savings in a Ponzi scheme, nevertheless trusts in this strange, wealthy interloper… even when Hadi runs for mayor, slashing taxes and putting up cameras.
With cashmere wardrobes, catered meals, and stunning views, blissful Golden Oaks doesn’t sound so different than the nearby Hudson Valley yoga retreats. Except that Golden Oaks’ residents are Hosts—fertile young women who desperately need the exorbitant fees they’re being paid to carry pregnancies to term for wealthy Clients. But with Golden Oaks watching their every breath, and cutting them off from their own children, the Hosts begin to wonder if they have any control at all.
While the federal government began to reintroduce wolves into Yellowstone National Park starting in the 1990s, it wasn’t until the 2000s that this polarizing movement found a social media star in alpha female O-Six. Blakeslee’s nonfiction account, written in compelling prose, is a moving tribute to the most famous wolf in the world and an indictment of the politics that cut short her reign. (Fun fact: Blakeslee counts My Side of the Mountain among his favorite childhood reads.)
Radio Free Vermont
Nearly thirty years after publishing his first book, The End of Nature, environmental activist McKibben tries another tack: fiction, though his focus is less on climate change and more on hypothetical state secession. His satirical “fable of resistance” sees Bernie Sanders-esque septuagenarian Vern Barclay commandeer the local Starbucks PA to broadcast his pro-Vermont pirate radio, haze big-box stores and behemoth brands like Walmart and Coors, and unwittingly call for the state to recreate its short-lived independence from 1777-91 in the digital age.
Watch Me Disappear
Almost a year ago, wife and mother Billie Flanagan never returned from a solo hike in Berkeley’s Desolation Wilderness. As the anniversary of Billie’s supposed death approaches, her teenage daughter Olive begins experiencing bizarre dreams that suggest that her mother might still be alive. This possibility is less welcome to widower Jonathan, writing a memoir about losing his seemingly perfect wife, who may prefer closure to confronting the truth behind Billie’s solo trips.
An invitation and an obstacle, the mountains are about taking back space and time: to retreat, to rebuild, to read. Stock your cabin with these adventure books that delve into the temptations of rural life, from a city mouse taking over a small town to surrogates who allow a remote retreat to take over their bodies to a satirical thought experiment on state secession. And despite all that, you may still find yourself most moved by the story of the alpha female wolf who wanted nothing more than to find the best peak from which to howl at the moon.
Featured image: Elliot Chau