A GOOD READ: Go play outside – and read
Do you like the great outdoors? You might also like reading about others’ adventures in the wilderness. Try these books:
• Lonesome: Memoirs of a Wilderness Dog by Chris Czajkowski: Lonesome’s story is an entertaining and quick read that is appropriate for whole family. I would classify its style somewhere between Jack London’s and Disney’s creations. It sparkles with humour, the characters are credible, and the language smooth. As you might suspect, the narrator is a dog that follows its owner somewhere in great Canadian outdoors (Tweedsmuir Provincial Park). Placed in contemporary setting, the description of nature brings a whiff of fresh air into your room. Although the book is available from Coquitlam Public Library’s popular science section, it is pure fiction, since dog characters are having quite sophisticated conversations. Chris, Lonesome’s owner, leads a lifestyle that I would call alternative, spending most of her time in the local wilderness, accompanied only by a dog.
For a completely different book about animals...
• Wild Trails, Wild Tales by Bernard McKay: This report of personal encounters with fauna and flora in northern British Columbia will not please everybody, although I really enjoyed the stories. The book is for mature readers and might not be appropriate for more sensitive animal lovers. It is about trapping, hunting, fishing and B.C.’s wilderness. Although the situations are sometimes cruel, they are described in elegant style and language that reminds me of the National Geographic documentaries. Learning about habits of wolverines, moose or their hunters was insightful and sometimes humorous. The book also gives witness to the life of a modern fur trader and entrepreneur who guides hunters and has many stories to share from his life and experiences with people and animals.
For a book describing the lives of adventurers...
• Expedition to the Edge: Stories of Worldwide Adventure by Lynn Martel: This book contains stories of people driven to enjoy outdoors for different reasons. Some of them explore new trails, mountain approaches, original ways of facing and conquering challenges. For the others, it is a way to earn money or pursue/promote their ideals. I liked the story about Nancy, the first woman to have climbed all peaks in Canadian Rockies. The other fascinating tale was about people following a caribou herd to assess the impact of oil drilling on lifestyle of those magnificent animals. You can read about paragliding across the Andes, rafting in the Amazon River, teaching actors to climb or even following a drop of water from top of the mountain for 1,538 km to Fort Chipewyan in Alberta. Because the stories are short and not connected, the book is convenient to read at any time.
For local adventurers, there is a must-have book...
• Scrambles in Southwest British Columbia by Matt Gunn: It was one of those cold and rainy late fall evenings when hiking was not so appealing and our group decided to organize meeting with the author. He was a young mountaineer, who gave a talk combined with a presentation of his book. At that point, I had no idea what scrambling meant (Wikipedia: “Scrambling ]also known as alpine scrambling] is a method of ascending rocky faces and ridges. It is an ambiguous term that lies somewhere between hillwalking and rock climbing.”) After viewing the slides, I looked at the book. It was well done: provided photographic images of mountain peaks and detailed descriptions of trailheads, as well as information about most accessible routes to the summits. Scrambles is now a reference book indispensable for me to find out if specific event is appropriate for me. Although I would not read the book from the beginning to end, it contains plenty of information about local mountains and I enjoy looking at the photos and pondering how awesome opportunities for mountaineers are here.
A Good Read is a column by Tri-City librarians that is published every Wednesday. Grazyna Nawrocka is a reference librarian at Coquitlam Public Library.