4. Amateur Sugar Maker

by Noel Perrin

This little 112 page out-of-print gem contains enough specific information for us to begin tapping our maples and make our own maple syrup.  Of course, I'll do much more research, but Perrin's narrative is very encouraging. Getting to the point of having actual maple syrup is a process dependent on good luck with the weather and a great deal of labor once the sap is collected. But we are going for it!  Next year.

3. Turtle Island

by Gary Snyder

This  1974 book of poetry by one of my favorite American poets, is one of his most well known collections of poetry.

the man who has the soul of the wolf
knows the self-restraint
of the wolf

For me, these few lines show the depth and difference in his understanding of the wild, which shows itself in poem after poem.  His work is life-affirming and life-disturbing.  A great poet, and important.

2. Rogue Male

by Jeffrey Household

I randomly picked it up from a book exchange in a hotel lobby.  It's a very good 1930s thriller.  A wealthy, influential Englishman, who loves the hunt, decides that the ultimate challenge for him would be to see if he can stalk close enough to a horrible dictator in a neighboring country I says he doesn't want to kill the dictator, but to see if he could.  The challenge would include getting the dictator in his sights.  He gets caught at the moment the challenge is met.  He is imprisoned, tortured, etc., but eventually escapes. The vast majority of the story is what happens after he gets way, and goes underground... literally goes underground.  In his hole, he is reflecting on the course of events.  It is an adventurous chase, where the protagonist becomes the prey.  But what is striking about the novel is that the main character is a highly skilled survivalist. It's, in fact, a great survival novel. I could not believe the detail I was reading. Imagine a thrilling survival manual.  What a strange little novel.

Never heard of this guy, or the book.

1. Frankenstein

by Mary Shelley

Wow, what a great novel.  This was my first time reading it. I put it off for a number of reasons, the top two being that I thought it would be like the classic 1931 film by he same name and that I tire easily from 18th century rich people writing.

It is 18th century rich people writing, but it is also a truly outstanding story.  There are many layers of frames to the narrative, all of which contribute to making a unbelievable story seem quite possible. I found myself wondering at the power and emotion of the tale. The being (it seems wrong to call it a monster after entertaining its point of view) makes one hell of a case for its right to exist and be... happy.  The pathos of the outcast is profound. That's not the tale I thought it would be.

Read it!

Hello 2013

I am off to a running start for 2013.  I really want to push myself to to read more than student papers.