Episode 113: Outdoor

Me and my dad, having breakfast at a campground somewhere in Alaska!

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Welcome, everyone, to Books and Beverages! This week we are discussing one our favorite genres: Outdoors!

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We are the Central Minnesota Libraries Exchange, and we support all types of libraries. This is our book group podcast, where we discuss different genres of books each week, while we all sit in our comfy chairs and drink our beverages. And you are, of course, an important part of this book group. So if you do not already have a nice beverage please go get one, so you can join the experience.

Who is joining our reading group this week? This week we have two special guests joining us: Jean and Joe Wilkins. Joe has been backpacking around remote areas of Alaska for several years, volunteering for the National Park Service, and photographing the amazing beauty of the state. Now he has written a book about his experiences and photographs, and Jean edited the work. The title is Gates of the Arctic National Park: Twelve Years of Wilderness Exploration You can go to Amazon now to pre-order this book; it comes out January 23, 2018.

This week’s episode will be a little different than most. First: this is our first author interview! The chance to talk with an author and editor about the process of assembling a book was very cool; and it was interesting to hear about it.

Our campground at Lake Marion. Coldfoot, Alaska: Population 13 people; and a great truck-stop! Last place to buy gas until you reach the Arctic Ocean.

Second: these are my (Mary’s) parents! And I’m really excited about this book, and the chance to hear more about such a great area of the country.  I’m sharing a few photos I took when my dad and I drove and camped all along the Dalton Highway in Alaska, then down to Valdez, through the Yukon Territory and British Columbia. (You will like the photos he took for the book better!) Check out this article from Smithsonian.com about the book.

Alaska is an amazing place; and this book is really the first time someone has taken such a detailed photographic look at the unbelievably remote Gates of the Arctic park. You cannot drive there, there are no roads, no campgrounds, and no trails. So when he was there, over several summers, with the NPS, some of these photographs are probably showing things that literally no other humans have ever seen.

Genre Suggestions

As with all the genres we have discussed this season, there are tons of different kinds of books that are classified as Outdoor – both fiction and nonfiction. If you need an adventure of any sort, this is your genre!

My dad, near our campground at Galbraith Lake – north of the Arctic Circle.

Here are a few types of books in this genre you might enjoy:

  • exploration
  • adventure
  • mountain
  • nature/environment
  • survival sailing
  • hiking
  • geocaching
  • canoe/kayak
  • cycling
  • travel
I forget which glacier this is, but my dad is standing on land where the glacier has retreated, while leaning over to touch the glacier. It was HUGE!

Books Discussed

These books are adventures for your mind. ““Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” Pat Conroy, author of Prince of Tides, Lords of Discipline, and other best sellers.

It begins at the Elliott Highway, north of Fairbanks, and ends at Deadhorse near the Arctic Ocean and the Prudhoe Bay Oil Fields. Have you seen Ice Road Truckers? It’s this highway!

There are a few standards that people read in this genre; see which ones you have read – or add them to your TBR list!

  • A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
  • Wild by Cheryl Strayed (also a great movie starring Reese Witherspoon)
  • Into the Wild and also Into Thin Air, by John Krakauer
  • Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
  • My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead George
This was our campground at Blueberry Lake, north of Valdez

Here are a few other suggestions you might to check out:

  • Anna Pigeon series by Nevada Barr (each one set in a different National Park)
  • French Revolutions: Cycling the Tour de France and The Cyclist Who Went Out in the Cold: Adventures Along the Iron Curtain Trail  by Tim Moore
  • Jill Horner books Into the North Wind: A thousand-mile bicycle adventure across frozen Alaska, Be Brave, Be Strong: A Journey Across the Great Divide
  • Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall
  • On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  • Dirt Work: An Education in the Woods by Christine Byl
  • Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout, by Philip Connors
This is a very popular place to take pictures on the Dalton Hwy. It’s exciting to be north of this spot! And it was August; so we were wearing warm coats, but I could read books in my tent without lights at 11pm.


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