Fisherman’s Luck, and Some Other Uncertain Things by Henry Van Dyke

Written in 1899 this collection of essays on fishing and life was a bit different from your typical fish story – but in all the good ways. Here are a few lines from some of my favorites:

A Wild Strawberry

” I tasted the odour of a hundred blossoms and the green shimmering of innumerable leaves and the sparkle of sifted sunbeams and the breath of highland breezes and the song of many birds and the murmur of flowing streams, – all in a wild strawberry.”

Talkability

“The inventor of the familiar maxim that “fishermen must not talk’ is lost in the mists of antiquity, and well deserves his fate. … Why  in the name of all that is genial, should anglers go about their harmless sport in stealthy silence like conspirators, or sit together in a boat, dumb, glum, and penitential, like naughty schoolboys on the bench of disgrace?”

A Fatal Success

“It is just a kind of a defect, due to her education, of course. In everything else she’s magnificent. But she doesn’t care for fishing.”

A Lazy, Idle Brook

“Indolence is a virtue. It comes from two Latin words, which mean freedom from anxiety or grief. And that is a wholesome state of mind.”

The Open Fire

“Wood is the fuel for it. Out-of-doors is the place for it. A furnace is an underground prison for a toiling slave. A stove is a cage for a tame bird. Even a broad hearthstone and a pair of glittering andirons – the best ornament of a room – must be accepted as an imitation of the real thing. The veritable open fire is built in the open, with the whole earth for a fireplace and the sky for a chimney.”

Finally my personal favorite:

The Thrilling Moment

“Such is the absurd disposition of some anglers. They never see a fish without believing that they can catch him; but if they see no fish, they are inclined to think that the river is empty and the world hollow.”

Unfortunately having been written in 1899 it’s not any easy book to find at the library but Amazon does sell it and I see that you can get it free on your Kindle.

Would I recommend it? Even difficult to find I’d still recommend it to all my fishing friends and relations.

Gardening Without Work by Ruth Stout

When I saw the full title of this book I decided it was must read.

Gardening Without Work (Sounds great so far!) For the Aging, (Happens to all of us.) the Busy, (Yes?) and the Indolent. (I can’t be bothered to look this up but I think it applies as well.)

Within I found a ridiculously easy sounding gardening method delivered in an easy to read humorous sort of way by a person who loves to question the “experts”.

Would I recommend it? What’s not to love? OK, maybe, there were a few parts that I was uninterested in but the beauty of nonfiction is if you don’t want to grow squash you don’t have to read about it!

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

This book is, among other things, about ultra-marathoners.

Ultra-marathons are nuts.

You’d have to be crazy to run for 100 miles/24 hours/forever.

Crazy people make for very interesting reading!

In addition to the stories about crazy people this book contains a lot of talk about the evils of shoes.

Since I have always believed in the evils of shoes it was fun and fascinating to read something that had some facts to back up my feelings.

Would I recommend this book? Yes. I believe it would be an interesting read even for a non-runner – you know, like me.

Fighting For Your Life, Man-eater Bears by Tom Hron

Dear Cousin Johnny,

Thank you for giving me this book to read.  I now know that if things really go poorly I should attempt to punch a black bear that is trying to eat me (or my friend/family member) in the nose.  Since I’m hoping it won’t come to that I’m now considering getting a larger dog, baseball bat, machete and stun gun to bring with me in the woods – just in case- oh and I promise not to forget my binoculars. Also after learning that grizzly bears enjoy flattening and shredding nylon tents I may never go camping much less hiking in certain areas again. My Dad painted a vivid enough picture of polar bears for me that I wasn’t planning on spending my vacation with one anytime soon but just in case his stories were fading in memory I now have some new ones to reinforce them with.

Thank you as well for the nightmare this book gave me. I had accidentally fallen asleep in Clara’s bed and that got me right back up and into my own bed. You know, the one with my husband who has a longer reach than me and would be better at beating a bear with a bat or punching it in the nose than I would.  And I certainly can’t forget to thank you for introducing me to a huge amount of graphic, horrific, descriptions of people who were eaten alive by bears. I shall never forget what a bear can do, ever… even if I want to.

Finally thank you for giving me a book to read that made me laugh. Because if I’m going to read about graphic bear deaths I do truly prefer it to be with a good dose of sarcasm and contempt for those who ignore “traditional knowledge and wisdom”…  “for the sake of computer modeling by a bunch of pinheads who have never set foot on the pack ice.”

In Gratitude,

Jessie

Would I recommend it? Bears: They don’t just eat nuts and berries, sometimes they eat people.  There was quite a lot of useful and interesting information but it is certainly not for the faint of heart!

Girl Hunter by Georgia Pellegrini (and Chukar Hunting)

This book was fine.

Woman chef becomes hunter in order to truly participate in her omnivorous life.

Pretty good stories, good looking recipes but one thing really bothered me.

The chukar.

Georgia shoots her chukar at a Texas game ranch where “…an olive brown figure rises from the left, only 10 yards in front and, crosses my path in a diagonal leap skyward.”

She who has never tasted a chukar gets her bird, and life is good. I bet she even remembers how it tastes.

I have also been chukar hunting.

It was a bit different than that.

My Dad, brother and cousin Johnny all went chukar hunting in Nevada a few years ago. After lots and lots of driving we arrived and it was beautiful.

We parked the truck down along the river.

Until I realized that I had to hike up all that beauty.

See here is the thing, the locals don’t call them “Dirty Rotten Bastards” without due cause. Chukars hang out on the side of the mountain until they see you coming, then they run – straight – up – the – mountain. When they reach the top they no doubt do a few chukar high fives before the Dirty Rotten Bastards laugh and fly down the other side of the mountain. 

I don’t run up mountains as fast as a chukar, my game vest stayed empty.

After a few days of hunting we got smarter and learned what the birds ( I mean Dirty Rotten Bastards) were flying to and we were able to set up hunts so that they flew down our side of the mountain. That sounds like it should be much better, and it was. All you had to do was stop upward movement on a 45 degree, rocky, snow covered slope, pivot outward to be facing the flying birds and then attempt to stop gasping for oxygen in the thin mountain air so as to steady your gun and get a shot off.

My game vest still stayed empty.

Then I’d watch and watch as the unscathed bastards would fly off, mark where they went down, hike back down my mountain and get ready to chase them up the next one. It was fantastic in a masochistic sort of way.

Fortunately not everyone was as bad a shot as I was and we were able to eat chukar for dinner at night.

Unlike Georgia I do not remember how it tastes.

I was so tired by the end of the day it’s possible I would have thought cardboard a delicious dinner.

Tyler (who can kill a chuckar) and dogs along ridge.

As the local mountain lion hunter told us, you go Dirty Rotten Bastard hunting the first time for fun, the next times are all revenge.

And now that I have my own bird dog and know that I have to pretend I’m training for a marathon before I leave, I can’t wait until I have an opportunity to get my revenge.

Hopefully I’ll even remember how it tastes.

Would I recommend the book? I go bird hunting because I like the hunting. Figuring out what the birds are eating, where they will be and when, watching the dogs work the field (or mountain) and maybe if I’m lucky being able to fill my game vest with something tasty for dinner. I’d rather hike up and down mountains while puzzling out how it all works with friends or family than be certain of finding game on a managed property with a guide.

The author is a hunter to find out where her food came from, participate in the harvest and cook great food. I think what she does is admirable, I think her stories are good and I’m glad she wrote a book about it, I just can’t broadly recommend it as a hunting book. It’s not my kind of hunting.

Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein

Since I am one of those with a daughter who inexplicably loves all things princess I couldn’t resist the title of this book. The author covers topics ranging from the Disney princesses, the color pink and child beauty pageants to internet use and violent fairy tales. I didn’t always completely agree with where she was coming from but the book had enough food for thought to make up for it.

Would I recommend it? If you’ve got girls, it’s an interesting, if frightening look at how our current culture affects them. But please see my Screamfree Parenting review for my full reasons on why I will not be recommending any sort of parenting books.

Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond

Have you visited The Pioneer Woman‘s website? She makes me want to eat large amounts of food, take better pictures, laugh a lot, and add a few more kids and dogs to my life. In addition to her very active blog she also writes books, first a cookbook and now this one:

Black Heels to Tractor Wheels is her and her husbands own true love story.  It’s funny, in a neurotic, cute, lovable sort of way.

Would I recommend it? Yes, although if you’ve read all her website there isn’t too much new here though it is fun to read it all at once.