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Eric James
3-Apr-2007, 16:30
I like to have an inspirational book in the car or pack when I'm on a photography trip. One of my favorites is Annie Dillard's "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek".

While planning a trip for this summer/fall, I recently discovered an excellent book entitled: "Alaska Wilderness - Exploring the Central Brooks Range"

Here's the Amazon Link:

http://www.amazon.com/Alaska-Wilderness-Exploring-Central-Brooks/dp/0520244982

And here's a short biography on the author and founder of the Wilderness Society, Robert Marshall:

http://www.wilderness.org/AboutUs/Marshall_Bio.cfm

Please recommend your favorite inspirational books for future trips!

Colin Graham
3-Apr-2007, 17:07
Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian. It's a severe and violent book and perhaps not for everyone yet the writing is stunningly beautiful and lends itself particularly well to harsh and remote landscapes, where I usually like to camp and hike.

Scott Knowles
3-Apr-2007, 18:04
Interesting, I read "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek" and never understood it. My favorite for the road are Galen Rowell's and Clarence Glacken's one lifetime book (rare for a tenured professor at UC Berkely) which takes your lifetime to read.

Hiro
3-Apr-2007, 18:06
Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey for desert lovers.

Kirk Gittings
3-Apr-2007, 18:18
Cormack McCarthy again, but the trilogy of All the Pretty Horses, The Crossing and Cities of the Plain. Unfortunately all are not on cd yet. I have read them all three times each and will read them again. IMO three of the most important works of fiction on the SW (including Mexico) ever written.

Jim Rice
3-Apr-2007, 19:26
William Faulkner: Go Down Moses

JW Dewdney
3-Apr-2007, 20:34
Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian. It's a severe and violent book and perhaps not for everyone yet the writing is stunningly beautiful and lends itself particularly well to harsh and remote landscapes, where I usually like to camp and hike.

GREAT BOOK!!! one of my favourites EVER!! Theres one passage regarding the 'Judge' about a quarter way in describing him passing through the landscape that was one of the most incredible pieces of writing/poetry I've ever witnessed. Child of God is great too, if disturbing. Check it out. Two of my "top ten books ever" list are by McCarthy.

My vote for inspirational book: Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban... a little hard to get into for the first three pages due to it being written in a phonetic language - then it's like a ROCKET!

JW Dewdney
3-Apr-2007, 20:35
Cormack McCarthy again, but the trilogy of All the Pretty Horses, The Crossing and Cities of the Plain. Unfortunately all are not on cd yet. I have read them all three times each and will read them again. IMO three of the most important works of fiction on the SW (including Mexico) ever written.

Hey - another guy with incredibly good taste, too! I haven't read those ones though.

Colin Graham
3-Apr-2007, 20:59
JW, check out Suttree as well if you havent already- amazing book, and another one I sometimes take on trips. I have everything he's written, and wish there were many more.

JW Dewdney
3-Apr-2007, 22:05
can't remember if I read it - I think I HAVE it, or HAD it... but never read... thanks for the advice.

Brian Ellis
3-Apr-2007, 22:20
I don't know about "insprirational" but when on a photography trip I like to take several books to read (just finished "Glass Castles" and "Them," both good but nothing about landscapes or geography) including something about photography, often Edward Weston's Daybooks, Ansel Adams Letters, something by Robert Adams, anything by John Szarkowski. I also enjoy the photographs and writing in Ray McSavaney's book.

docholliday_sc001
4-Apr-2007, 03:25
My most inspirational book when I'm deep woods hiking: Kathryn Kane's Swiss Army Knife Handbook: The Official History and Owners Guide. Everytime that I read it, I wanna go mod something and find a way to take a shot in an impossible location.

Terence McDonagh
4-Apr-2007, 05:54
"A Walk in the Woods" by Bill Bryson. Not sure it counts as inspirational, but it does match my typical nature encounters. I've probably read it a dozen times and given away ten copies.

Kevin Crisp
4-Apr-2007, 06:36
I'm with Terence on this. Also makes a great Book on Tape (CD) since the author reads it.

Mark Sampson
4-Apr-2007, 07:09
Well, here's a data point... I was in Jamaica last week (first ever tropical beach vacation) and read Jack Kerouac's "The Dharma Bums". I didn't take the 4x5, only made happy-snaps, but have lots of ideas now for the coming season.

Eric James
5-Apr-2007, 23:03
Thanks for all the suggestions - I hope others benefit too! I found it interesting that Blood Meridian and its author was mentioned more than once. I haven't found a used copy yet but it will most definitely be in my glove compartment on my next road trip.

Desert Solitaire and Dharma Bums have been on my list for some time - I shouldn't have too much trouble finding used copies of those books.


Interesting, I read "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek" and never understood it. My favorite for the road are Galen Rowell's and Clarence Glacken's one lifetime book (rare for a tenured professor at UC Berkely) which takes your lifetime to read.

1) For me, reading Pilgrim at Tinker Creek isn't so much understood as it is experienced. Her contemplative approach to nature writing slows me down and helps me focus in on the simple things. If Annie Dillard can sit and stare as a water bug sucks a frog into a limp skin, I can hold off a bit on locking down my ballhead before settling on a composition.

2) I'm looking foreward to checking out this Clarence Glacken recommendation.

Terry Hull
6-Apr-2007, 05:43
Lost Horizons By Hilton. I am still looking for shangri la

John Kasaian
6-Apr-2007, 20:04
I've got a short road trip coming up. I'm taking Thomas Mann's 'The Magic Mountain' along. I'm 3/4 of the way through and its been a delightful book so far.

Blueberrydesk
14-Apr-2007, 11:04
Travels with Charley, by John Steinbeck.

Eric Woodbury
14-Apr-2007, 11:30
When I travel, I like to read about where I am going. One of my favorites was when I went to Alaska and read John McPhee's, Coming Into The Country.

Monty McCutchen
15-Apr-2007, 09:06
Anything by Walter Mosely. A truly gifted writer.

Eric James
1-Jun-2007, 17:09
Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian. It's a severe and violent book and perhaps not for everyone yet the writing is stunningly beautiful and lends itself particularly well to harsh and remote landscapes, where I usually like to camp and hike.

This title popped up a number of times. Last weekend I was at Titlewave Books in Anchorage and noticed that they had a fine condition first edition, unsigned. The price was $1150. It seem as though others agree with Colin and Kirk!

Eric James
6-Oct-2007, 10:41
I just read Cormac McCarthy's book, The Road - this book will put all of your LF trials and tribulations on the road into perspective.

Colin Graham
6-Oct-2007, 12:06
I just read Cormac McCarthy's book, The Road - this book will put all of your LF trials and tribulations on the road into perspective.
What a great and disturbing book. It does make troubles with changing tents pale by comparison!

Duane Polcou
6-Oct-2007, 12:30
Penthouse Forum. But only when I visit the Grand Tetons.

Bruce Barlow
8-Oct-2007, 06:26
"Young Men and Fire" by Norman Maclean. The story of the Mann Gulch fire that was the first fire to kill Smokejumpers. Maclean is a gifted storyteller who weaves the book to circle and circle like the blowup that killed these young men. And it's the story of a man coming to grips with the end of his life (Maclean), and it's a little bit of a love story about his dead wife, whose ashes are on a hilltop not far from Mann Gulch. Be ready to shed a lot of tears for a lot of reasons, not all of them sad.

Maclean also wrote "A River Runs Through It," which is also delightful, but not in the same class.

Michael Graves
8-Oct-2007, 07:08
Wright Morris; Photographs and Words

Michael T. Murphy
9-Oct-2007, 09:29
Yes, "Desert Solitaire", definitely. :)

Also, some old classics:

"Blue Highways", William Least Heat Moon

"Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance", Robet M. Persig

"On the Road", Jack Kerouac

I think those are best appreciated when you are feeling a little lost and lonely and small and insignificant and unknown - like when travelling. :p


If you want to get depressed instead, "The Virgin Suicides."

Personally I would read that one close to home and close to people I care about. I got completely sucked in envisioning people I knew growing up. Big mistake by the end! :)

Or, an oddball suggestion, but an incredible two books together: Knut Hamsun, "Under the Autumn Star", and "A Wanderer Plays on Muted Strings." A young wanderers experience, and an older man who follows the same paths years later. Hamsun is probably the most important writer no-one has ever heard of. :D He won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1920.

Edit: Here is a link to a free download off the text of the two books together, called "Wanderers."

ftp://ibiblio.org/pub/docs/books/gutenberg/etext05/7wand10.txt

I decided I needed to re-read it - has been 20+ years. I'll also post the first few paragraphs to give you a feel. Maybe something every landscape photog should read? (I first read this when I lived in a tent in Northern Michigan. I love mystics. ;>)


WANDERERS
I.

Smooth as glass the water was yesterday, and smooth as glass it is again
today. Indian summer on the island, mild and warm--ah! But there is no
sun.

It is many years now since I knew such peace. Twenty or thirty years,
maybe; or maybe it was in another life. But I have felt it some time,
surely, since I go about now humming a little tune; go about rejoicing,
loving every straw and every stone, and feeling as if they cared for me in
return.

When I go by the overgrown path, in through the woods, my heart quivers
with an unearthly joy. I call to mind a spot on the eastern shores of the
Caspian, where I once stood. All just as it is here, with the water still
and heavy and iron-grey as now. I walked through the woods, touched to the
heart, and verging on tears for sheer happiness' sake, and saying to
myself all the time: God in heaven. To be here again....

As if I had been there before.

Ah well, I may have been there once before, perhaps, coming from another
time and another land, where the woods and the woodland paths were the
same. Perhaps I was a flower then, in the woods, or perhaps a beetle, with
its home in some acacia tree.

Michael T. Murphy
11-Oct-2007, 09:56
Hey, I didn't mean to kill the thread. :)

I was just re-reading that quote. Makes me want to get out in the woods.

Hugo Zhang
11-Oct-2007, 11:22
I have been reading and rereading James Joyce all the time. An enchanting magician of words. Here is a taste of his Ulysses...



Mr Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls. He liked thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liverslices fried with crustcrumbs, fried hencods' roes. Most of all he liked grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine.

Kidneys were in his mind as he moved about the kitchen softly, righting her breakfast things on the humpy tray. Gelid light and air were in the kitchen but out of doors gentle summer morning everywhere. Made him feel a bit peckish.

The coals were reddening.

Another slice of bread and butter: three, four: right. She didn't like her plate full. Right. He turned from the tray, lifted the kettle off the hob and set it sideways on the fire. It sat there, dull and squat, its spout stuck out. Cup of tea soon. Good. Mouth dry. The cat walked stiffly round a leg of the table with tail on high.

--Mkgnao!

--O, there you are, Mr Bloom said, turning from the fire.

The cat mewed in answer and stalked again stiffly round a leg of the table, mewing. Just how she stalks over my writingtable. Prr. Scratch my head. Prr.

Mr Bloom watched curiously, kindly the lithe black form. Clean to see: the gloss of her sleek hide, the white button under the butt of her tail, the green flashing eyes. He bent down to her, his hands on his knees.

--Milk for the pussens, he said.

--Mrkgnao! the cat cried.

They call them stupid. They understand what we say better than we understand them. She understands all she wants to. Vindictive too. Cruel. Her nature. Curious mice never squeal. Seem to like it. Wonder what I look like to her. Height of a tower? No, she can jump me.

--Afraid of the chickens she is, he said mockingly. Afraid of the chookchooks. I never saw such a stupid pussens as the pussens.

Cruel. Her nature. Curious mice never squeal. Seem to like it.

--Mrkrgnao! the cat said loudly.

She blinked up out of her avid shameclosing eyes, mewing plaintively and long, showing him her milkwhite teeth. He watched the dark eyeslits narrowing with greed till her eyes were green stones. Then he went to the dresser, took the jug Hanlon's milkman had just filled for him, poured warmbubbled milk on a saucer and set it slowly on the floor.

--Gurrhr! she cried, running to lap.

walter23
11-Oct-2007, 13:46
I have been reading and rereading James Joyce all the time. An enchanting magician of words. Here is a taste of his Ulysses...


Man, nobody reads Joyce. I put Ulysses (and Finnegan's wake, for that matter) on the bookshelf to look smart if visitors come by, but I secretly think I'm even smarter for just relegating these to the bookshelf rather than putting myself through them ;)

Incidentally, Finnegan's Wake is even more abstract / unstructured than Ulysses. I do know people who have pretended to read Ulysses, but nobody reads Finnegan's Wake.

(In all honesty I do see how people could get some pleasure from his imagery, but I just don't understand it well enough to get through it.)

Michael T. Murphy
11-Oct-2007, 14:21
Yeah, I have never read Joyce either. I know Joseph Campbell thinks very highly of him.

I had to read Kant, Hegal, Heidigger, Sartre, et. al in college as a Philosophy major. Took about 1 hour to read 3 pages of the "Critique of Pure Reason." Comprehension was less than 1% on the first go. :D

I did have a doctor ask me if I was an English grad student once because I was reading Thomas Pynchon while waiting for him. I thought he was pretty readable and enjoyable.

I take so many pain pills now that I can't read Time magazine. TV is not so hard, though I get lost sometimes. :p

Hugo Zhang
11-Oct-2007, 14:38
Walter,

I know, his wife Nora didn't read beyond page 20 of that book even she was the inspiration of that hotblooded and now immortal Molly. Like Proust, Joyce is much talked about and less read.

But on the other hand, how many people use LF cameras today? As a percentage of population, my guess is the number is less than Joyce readers.

I have not and will not read his Finnegan Wake though. Ulysses is as far as I would allow myself go. Every time I open this book, Joyce just dazzles and delights me. :)

Struan Gray
11-Oct-2007, 14:50
"Dubliners" is one of the few books I have enjoyed re-reading. The language is very visual, and the characters drawn so exactly, so it has strong photographic resonances for me.

My current bedside reading is William Empson's "Seven types of ambiguity." A bit dense - but very quotable - and again, full of insights that have photographic relevance.

Colin Graham
11-Oct-2007, 15:11
I like Thomas Pynchon too...in moderation. V was great, Mason & Dixon though I still cant get through. Haven't tried his latest.

Started rereading some Paul Bowles this week- The Sheltering Sky, Points in Time and Up Above the World are all great road books

Michael T. Murphy
16-Oct-2007, 15:36
I like Thomas Pynchon too...in moderation

Hey Colin, you are in good company. I found this in a Herald Tribune article about Radiohead last week. I wasn’t aware of this connection:


Radiohead has become a cyber-cottage industry - through its merchandising company, W.A.S.T.E., named after Thomas Pynchon's underground postal system in "The Crying of Lot 49"

Radiohead also had a link to the photographer Chris Jordan on the front of their web page. I saw it just a day or two after I was at his site.

http://www.radiohead.com/deadairspace/

They seem to be pretty sharp, I think I will just live my life according to what they post on their site. It will save me a lot of thinking and decision making for myself from now on. :p :D

Best,
Michael

roteague
16-Oct-2007, 15:42
I take a photography book. Generally either Jack Dykinga's "Large Format Nature Photography" or Joe Cornish's "First Light". I love both, and get a lot of inspiration from them.

JPlomley
19-Oct-2007, 08:11
I've printed the How To Articles and key threads from this website and read them b4 the first day of shooting, just so I don't screw up too many shots. Perhaps not as inspirational as poetry, but certainly as beneficial.

Ben Calwell
23-Oct-2007, 11:36
I second "Travels With Charley."