Thursday, July 27, 2006

Alaska Reading



Reading has been one of my great joys and avid pastimes since childhood. My preference is for good, substantial fiction, books with something to chew on, think about, learn from. I love historical fiction, biography, some classics, and occasional science fiction or mysteries. Mostly I love good writing, and will read just about any genre, if the writing is good. I have a larger-than-average vocabulary, and love it when a writer sends me to the dictionary to look up a word I don’t know.

Some of the many writers who have enthralled me are Charles Dickens, Aldous Huxley, Colleen McCullough, Diana Gabaldon, Jean Auel, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Elizabeth George, Jack London, Patricia Cornwell, Ferol Sams, Margaret Atwood, Margaret George, Alice Walker, Mark Twain, Jane Austin, Maya Angelou, Margaret Mitchell, Barbara Kingsolver, Annie Proulx. And others which I can’t recall at this moment.

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Since I started blogging three months ago, my time spent with “dead tree” media has decreased significantly. But I still love reading books; there is a physical pleasure in holding a book, turning the pages, feeling the paper, and--yes--even smelling the ink, that a computer screen cannot replace. It is a sensual experience into which the engagement of the imagination is interwoven.

I love finding really good books, the kind that suck you right in, involve you totally in the story, and that you wish would not end. Since I have lived in Alaska, I especially enjoy finding good books about life in The Last Frontier.

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Two books I discovered recently I would like to share with you and recommend. Both are outstanding.

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Ordinary Wolves by Seth Kantner is a novel about a boy who grows to manhood deep in the bush in arctic Alaska in the 1970s.

From the cover notes:

In this novel about a boy growing up in the Alaskan wilderness, the reader is allowed no escape into the fuzzy myth of the Arctic, but instead is led down its true trails, feeling the pliers’ pinch of cold, tasting salmon shared with shivering sled dogs, hunkering in an igloo while blizzards moan overhead. With his siblings and father, Cutuk Hawcly lives a day’s sled-drive away from the nearest Inupiaq village, their link to the outside world. Reared entirely on the land in the presence of wolves, moose, and ravens, Cutuk’s imagination is shaped by his father Abe, the legendary hunter Enuk Wolfglove, and the faraway but nearing drone of an America he has never seen.

It is a very honest and unflinching portrayal of Alaska's social dynamic. Both funny and heart-rending, it is well worth reading.


And She Was by Cindy Dyson is set in Dutch Harbor, in the Aleutian Islands, in 1986. It is the story of a smart and brassy cocktail waitress named Brandy who follows a curly-haired fisherman with a cute butt to the barren pile of rocks at the end of the earth which calls itself “the birthplace of the winds”. Interwoven into Brandy’s story is 250 years of Aleutian history, told through the lives of Aleut women.

From the cover notes:

In a tense interplay between past and present, And She Was explores Aleut history, taboos, mummies, conquest, survival, and the seamy side of the 1980s in a fishing boomtown at the edge of the world. It leaps across time and culture to a lost woman, who more than anything needs to understand the gray shades between heroism and evil, between freedom and bondage, between this place and the rest of her life.


Both books are good reads, and have something special to offer. I highly recommend them.




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5 Comments:

Blogger Intelinurse2B said...

You have captured perfectly, for me anyways, the "physical pleasure in holding a book." Well stated. Thanks for the recommendations.

Friday, July 28, 2006 5:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Dawn said...

Those books sound great. Guess I'll make a book run and if local doesn't have them, hit Amazon.com

Thanks for the reviews. I love a lot of the same authors you listed, and one of my great pleasures is re-reading (for the 2nd, 8th, 20th time...) a book I love.

Friday, July 28, 2006 1:38:00 PM  
Blogger TheTundraPA said...

IN2B--so glad to hear I'm not the only one who appreciates the physicality of real books. Thanks for commenting...

dawn--I'm also glad to hear I'm not the only one who rereads a well-loved book. Some of my favorites I can open anywhere in the middle and just start from there. I love sharing good books with others who love reading; hope you enjoy these!

Friday, July 28, 2006 6:00:00 PM  
Blogger oncRN said...

so many books, so little time. i love your blog and read it every day. i'm a lazy commentor but i want you to know i appreciate your pictures and your subjects and your voice. i also appreciate so much the comments you left on mine some time ago. thank you.

Saturday, July 29, 2006 3:46:00 AM  
Blogger TheTundraPA said...

oncRN--sometimes I wish I didn't have to work so I could spend all my time reading and writing. Of course then I would have less to write about. So maybe less work? Two days a week sounds like a dream to me right now. But our demand for services is so high, and we are painfully understaffed; it is just not possible.

Thank you for leaving this comment; it means a lot to me to know that my work is appreciated by those I admire. I too am a lazy commenter; I read a lot on other blogs, but don't comment often--when I do, sometimes a lot comes out. I was moved by your writing...

Saturday, July 29, 2006 10:21:00 AM  

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