Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout by Philip Connors
Philip Connors spent eight fire seasons in a lookout tower in New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness (“the first stretch of country in the world to be consciously protected from incursion by industrial machines”) searching for “smokes” — the first sign of fire that can be seen from a distance. Part ode to nature and solitude, part history lesson on the Forest Service and its evolving approach to fires, I found this book absolutely fascinating and so relevant to today.
Connors says, “There are no easy answers when it comes to fire — no blanket prescriptions, no ironclad laws…Just as smothering every fire the moment it’s detected is no longer the answer, neither is standing back and letting every fire burn under conditions no one could construe as entirely natural.” Western communities “are going to have to put their heads together and get creative with fire use, prescribed fire, mechanical thinning — a potpourri of approaches to the fire problem, varying from place to place and year to year as conditions dictate. Global warming won’t make the task any easier, but it does make the effort more necessary.”
The Guest List by Lucy Foley
“And then the lights went out.” A classic, twisty murder mystery set on a remote island during the wedding of the year. The story takes place over two days, and readers know from the start someone has been murdered, it’s just not clear who. (This is the same setup Lucy Foley used in her novel, The Hunting Party). Narrated by the bride, the bridesmaid, the wedding planner, the best man, and the plus one, you learn there’s one character that many at the wedding have a history with– and they all have a motive to kill. Reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s best, And Then There Were None.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
My classic book club recently picked Wuthering Heights. I hadn’t read it for a good twenty years, and I was ALL IN. It’s a wild, problematic, melodramatic ride with wind-whipped moors and far too many people with the same name. Oh, I loved it! This Wuthering Heights in charts is worth a look if you’re a fan (or a Bronte fan in general). Hard for me to understand people select this as their favorite romance. It’s wonderful, but romantic it’s NOT.
Also, as an aside: does anyone else keep the layouts of character’s houses in their minds? It was easy for me to see Wuthering Heights as I’d first imagined it years ago, but I could also tell you my mental layout of Nancy Drew’s place and dozens of others, so maybe I’m a little strange?
I Talk Like a River by Jordan Scott and illustrated by Sydney Smith
This gorgeous picture book, about word fluency and stuttering, is based on the author’s childhood and is about a boy whose words often get stuck in his mouth. After a “bad speech day,” his father takes him to a river, where dad teaches the boy that he talks like the waters that move and pool, a conversation that helps the boy find his voice. Sydney Smith, who is one of the most talented illustrators I know, creates beautiful watercolors that echo the story’s heartbreak and courage.
Horn Book’s starred review calls it “lyrical and empowering.” It was named a Best Book of the Year by the New York Times, Kirkus Reviews, NPR, and many more. This is one I wish had been around when my boys were little.