A Walk in the Woods
The Appalachian Trail stretches over 2000 miles from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Maine’s Mount Katahdin and covers some of the most gorgeous landscapes of the East Coast of America. Part-memoir, part-travelogue, and 100% entertaining, A Walk in the Woods is Bill Bryson’s history of the creation of the trail combined with the story of his own attempt at the AT. Hysterically funny and a true appreciation of the Great Outdoors.
Were it not for Teddy Roosevelt’s dedication to wildlife conservation, we may not have Natural History museums or as many National Parks as we currently do. Roosevelt was committed to preserving nature in the United States, creating bird sanctuaries and game refugees, as well as protecting National Forests. This work draws from Roosevelt’s own journals and looks at the men like John James Audubon whom he was inspired by. It’s a fascinating read that is best accompanied by a visit to one of the sweeping vistas Roosevelt helped protect.
This Land Is Our Land
In America, there are rolling grasslands, pastures, forests, and coastlines that are restricted to visitors, due to the fact that they are on privately-owned land. Yet America’s public parks often come under threat by extremist groups who believe the land should be sold to the highest bidder. Ken Ilgunas looks at this quandary of public vs. private property and proposes we open up private property for public recreation so that Americans can again roam from California to the New York island, from the Redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters.
For the last five years, James and Deborah Fallows have been traveling across America in a small airplane, visiting dozens of towns and meeting the people, the public and civil servants and volunteers that keep them running in the years post-Great Recession and in the face of struggles like the opioid crisis. From this microcosm of the country, the married journalist duo has seen that, despite dysfunction on the national level, small towns are churning with job creation, creative solutions, innovation and camaraderie that we can use as inspiration to adopt what works on a larger scale.
Tip of the Iceberg
In 1899, wealthy railroad magnate Edward H. Harriman organized a summer trip to the wilds of Alaska. He converted a steamship into a “floating university” and invited some of the brightest scientific and cultural minds aboard, including conservationist John Muir. Along the way, passengers were struck by the incredible beauty of Alaska, but also observed the impending environmental calamity. Journalist Mark Adams set out to retrace the expedition in present day, traveling over 3,000 miles and ending up in the Arctic Circle. He encounters plenty of characters and contrasts the expedition’s ecological lessons with what we know today.
This year, to celebrate the 4th of July, we’re reading books that take us to the far-reaching corners of the United States. These are the reads that examine the spacious skies, the amber waves of grain, the purple mountain majesties, and the fruited plains that make up America the Beautiful and the texts reveal what we can do to maintain our nation’s landscapes that we love so dearly.