“Reading a book gives us somewhere to go when we stay where we are.“–Mason Cooley
July 3 marks the beginning of summer known as the Dog Days. The Dog Days, which end August 11 and coincide with the ascent of the dog star Sirius, are the hottest days of the year. When it’s too hot to leave the house, curl up in front of the air conditioning with a tall glass of iced tea and a good book. The following nonfiction books will take you on a trip while you lounge in your reclining easy chair.
- A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson (1998). Bryson writes about his attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail with his pal Stephen Katz. Robert Redford is doing a film adaptation of this book with Nick Nolte. Originally, Redford had wanted to film with Paul Newman, but, alas, Newman died before the project could get underway. What I can’t grapple with is which of the book’s two out-of-shape middle-aged guys would Newman, Redford, or even Nolte portray?
- Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie (1995). Alexie tells the story of a Spokane Indian rock and blues band on a Washington state reservation. Alexie stories about what it is like to be a present-day Indian on a reservation are amusing, but poignant.
- Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream by H. G. Bissinger (1990). The story of a small Texas town’s high school football team and its hold on the town. Publisher’s Weekly calls this book a “superb, if disquieting, portrait of heartland America.”
- Blue Highways: A Journey Into America by William Least Heat-Moon (1982). After separating from his wife and losing his teaching job, the author takes a rural road trip following the small out-of-the-way highways, which were colored in blue on the old Rand McNally road atlas. According to The Wall Street Journal this is a “splendid book, outstanding Americana, which I rank above the next best thing preceding it in the genre, John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley.”
- Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck (1962). Steinbeck’s son said his father’s reason for taking this road trip with his poodle Charley was that he was dying and wanted to see America one more time. Wonderful descriptions of various parts of our country. You will feel like you are there.
- Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain (1883). Part memoir of Twain’s time as a steamboat captain before the Civil War and part travel book of his trip along the Mississippi from St. Louis to New Orleans long after the war. Like all of Twain’s travel books, this one is laugh-out-loud funny.
–Judith Barker and Bonnie James