Wednesday, September 13, 2023

This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel is an excellent novel with characters that stick with you long after reading the book. Frankel tells the story of the Walsh-Adams family - Rosie and Penn and their kids Roo, Rigel, Orion, Ben, and Claude, the last born. 

Claude as he was getting ready to start elementary school was more and more drawn to dresses and things traditionally favored by girls, and eventually became known as their daughter, Poppy. It's an emotional tale of Rosie and Penn, and their other kids as they work to support and do right by the youngest member of the family. 

Frankel provides a beautifully written story that stretches from Wisconsin to Seattle to Thailand. It's filled with great pain, great love, and then the Buddhist concept of a middle way of living, one betwixt opposites.

Sunday, September 10, 2023

The Heartbeat of the Wild by David Quammen

The Heartbeat of the Wild by David Quammen is a solid book from someone with a two-decade career as a National Geographic magazine science writer. It's subtitled Dispatches from Landscapes of Wonder, Peril, and Hope and contains twenty-one different accounts of his travels, with stories including:

Three different pieces on walking with ecologist Michael Fay on his Megatransect journey across Central Africa. He traveled 2,000 miles on foot over 15 months, going through often heavily forested areas to Gabon on the African coast. Fay along the way cataloged the ecosystems he came across.

An account of time on the Kamchatka Peninsula in far Eastern Russia, an isolated area that went into disrepair with the collapse of the Soviet Union, with salmon fishing an important part of the economy. 

Two stories about C-Boy, a Serengeti lion that escaped death after being attacked as a youth by a pack of lions dubbed the Killers. C-Boy lived to old age, with an image of him on the cover of the book.

A story about the Ebola virus, the impact it has had on Africa (both people and animals) and search by scientists for the origin of Ebola outbreaks and the reservoir host of the disease. 

An overview of the Okavango Delta, an area in Botswana critical to both the ecology and economy of the country, and how the Delta needs water that flows from elsewhere, particularly Angola, to survive.

A chronicle of what tech entrepreneur and philanthropist Greg Carr has done in Africa, helping create parks and reinvigorate wildlife as well as educate and empower young African girls. 

The tale of Doug Thompkins and Kristine McDivitt Thompkins and their conservation efforts in Chile and Argentina, started by each and continued by Kristine following Doug's death from hypothermia after his kayak capsized in a Chilean lake.