Here are four books I've read in the past few months that I've enjoyed and recommend for different reasons. Two non-fiction, one novel and one Thich Naht Hanh book, which is its own genre.
- Oak Flat - A Fight for Sacred Land in the American West is one of the most innovative and touching books I've read in a long time.
Lauren Redness combines gorgeous drawings with empathetic journalism. This book made me think long and hard about complicated land rights issues in the U.S. It made me wonder if the San Carlos Apache will ever be adequately compensated for what the U.S. government has already taken from them. When it comes to the Resolution Copper Mine, I cannot fathom how there aren't more innovative ways to convince Arizonans and more importantly, Arizonan politicians, that returning the land to the San Carlos Apache is the best path forward.
One way to show your support for the San Carlos Apache's fight to protect their sacred land from being turned into a copper mine is by sending a note to your U.S. Representative. There's currently a bill in the House of Reps that could get a vote this year. We're still waiting for a Senator to author a companion bill. My rep, Joe Neguse, is already a co-sponsor of the bill, but I still sent that letter linked above, which tallies my support for the bill within his system. Every Rep does this (at least I hope they do) for pretty much every bill.
2. The Tower by Kelly Cordes is an adventure climbing history book you won't be able to put down. I'm obsessed with climbing books, which is funny since I do not enjoy climbing, and this is potentially my favorite climbing book of all time. It's between this and Into Thin Air. Cordes lays out extremely complicated and niche climbing history that spans across multiple continents and decades. He painstakingly documents feuds within climbing cliques that makes for a mind-bogglingly tale of a lot of WTF JUST HAPPENED moments. It made me want to go for a big run.
3. Shark Dialogues by Kiana Davenport. Like climbing books, I'm fascinated by anything and everything set in Hawaii. This novel mixes a touch of magic and surrealism with raw, harsh historical fiction. The history of Hawaii is so wild, so unbelievable only a novel this complex, beautiful and thought-provoking could even begin to do this place justice. Set on a road where I've spent the last two winters, the landscape and the people feel intimate to me. If you're drawn to the ocean, natural world, family epics, or fascinating historical fiction and have a hearty stomach for a book this length, you'll love it.
4. No Mud, No Lotus by Thich Nhat Hanh. Rest in peace! The Buddhist monk passed away earlier this year. He is still with us, though, through his words and through our mindfulness. This book is sparse on words, but heavy on insight. Hanh directly addresses afflictions of our time like depression and urges practicing mindfulness as a way to cope with our suffering. It helped me specifically with existential dread. Questions like "What's the point?" plague my days. Hanh reminds me to appreciate the moment I'm in. For I am so lucky to be alive, to be writing this right now, breathing air, and smiling. Being alive is a gift and I feel grateful Hanh helped me dust off that realization. While I'm alive, I choose to be a positive force in our world.