Friday, November 30, 2018


I'm right in the middle of reading Grand Alone by Kristine Hannah. It's the type of book I usually don't read before I go to sleep: full of tension, good characters, and riveting events. The type of book that keeps you reading way past bedtime and into the night. I'm halfway finished and wondering what will happen to the people who live in the northern part of Alaska and who need to keep vigilant constantly to survive harsh winters and predators. Not a good bedtime story.

I think of the books I usually read before I go to sleep. I purposely pick them because they aren't full of suspense, they don't grip my imagination so that I'm wide awake wondering what is going to happen next, and they allow me to begin to relax into sleep. They are all non-fiction and full of interesting information and often lyrical writing at its best. Here are my favorite bedtime readings:

The Wild Places by Robert McFarlane
     McFarlane wanders in the wildest places. He writes of a walk through the British Isles: "Rooks haggled in the air above the trees. The sky was a bright cold blue, fading to milk at its edges. From a quarter mile away, I could hear the noise of the wood in the wind: a marine roar...."

Wild Comfort: The Solace of Nature by Kathleen D. Moore
      Moore discovered the healing power of nature after the deaths of people close to her: "...All I had to do was look out the window. Young eagles struggled to land in the trees but missed their branches and tumbled down, catching themselves on frantic wings. The morning light was brown, like an old bruise...."

The Wild Muir, a selection essays by John Muir
    Essays written by one of America's great wanderers who put his adventures down on paper so that we could all experience the California wilderness through his writings.  

Prague Pictures by John Banville
    A must-read if you plan to go to Prague. Banville says of Prague: "...I am not sure that beauty is the right word to apply to this mysterious, jumbled, fantastical, absurd city...There is loveliness here, of course, but a loveliness that is excitedly tainted...."

Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal
    As a scientist, de Waal wondered if humans were really superior to other animals as we claim to be. In his research, he followed and created studies that debunk every distinction we try to assert about being human, from using language to planning for the future, in order to separate ourselves from the other creatures on earth. The book is full of evidence to show how close we are to other beings and how much we share with them.

American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon by Steven Rinella
    Rinella shares little-known information about the American buffalo as he roams through the rugged Alaskan wilderness hunting a buffalo. I have a hard time understanding hunting as a sport, but this is an intimate book about one man's trek through a primeval world.

Any one of these books would be good to pick up, wrap yourself in a blanket and spend some moments reading by a fire. Good winter or bedtime reads.

What are you reading right now?

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  1. I agree with you about The Great Alone, it captured my imagination with not just the rich and realistic depiction of life in the far north, but also the insight it gave into the effects of family trauma.

    If you love MacFarlane's Wild Places you should also read The Old Ways, his exploration of trails recent and ancient in the British Isle. Magigal!

  2. I always have more than one book going at a time. Right now on my nightstand: Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose by Joe Biden, Endurance by Scott Kelly, and some Spanish textbooks for brushing up on my Spanish.

    1. Sara, I started a comment and got waylaid! Thanks for your suggestions. I'm putting them on my to-read list (though I would need Spanish lessons for your last idea.)

  3. Right now I am reading Margaret Mitchell's Gone With The Wind for the first time. It is an epic story in every sense of the word and an interesting read for modern times in ways Mitchell probably never imagined. A good reminder to acknowledge the past, no matter how much it may make us squirm.

    1. I'm intrigued by what you decide about Gone with the Wind. Let me know when you're finished.


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