Our Last Reading List Of The Summer Takes Us Outside
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
Your summer vacation may seem like a distant memory at this point. But wait. We can help you hang onto a sense of adventure or get your mind on the next vacation with one final roundup of reading recommendations.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Heather Hansman is a correspondent for Outside magazine, and she's here with some book suggestions. Welcome to the program.
HEATHER HANSMAN: Thanks for having me.
CORNISH: I want to talk about the first book that you brought us, "Lands Of Lost Borders." This is by a woman who used to be at MIT, right?
HANSMAN: Yeah. She had been an academic. She'd been at Oxford. She was kind of really getting deep into the world of microbiology, and she kind of had this itch where she didn't want to be in the lab. And she wanted to be outside, and she'd always been fascinated by Marco Polo, an explorer. So she ends up dropping out of grad school and going to bike across the Silk Road with her best friend from growing up.
CORNISH: So the author, Kate Harris, is telling the story of this trip. And I think a lot of times we think of women going into the wilderness, and it's because they are running from their demons. This is, like, my read of the last few years.
CORNISH: Is that right, and is this different?
HANSMAN: Yeah, this feels - and that's actually something that I think is really interesting and is also really lacking in a lot of books about outdoor adventures and the wilderness - is that the narrator is often a white dude who gets to go have adventures. She really kind of digs into who gets to be outside and also the idea of the recent narrative about - that when women are going outside, it's 'cause they're running for something or they're trying to figure out their lives. And she is just out there 'cause she wants to have an adventure.
CORNISH: Now, because it's the end of summer, you brought us two books set on the water. I thank you very much. And they're set back here in the U.S. The first is called "Chesapeake Requiem." Tell us about it.
HANSMAN: This is Earl Swift, who's a journalist - spent a lot of time on Tangier Island, which is off the coast of Virginia. I sort of love this book because it's not necessarily something that I would have picked up off the shelf on its face. It's this...
CORNISH: How come?
HANSMAN: ...Big - you know, it's a 400-page book about...
CORNISH: Oh, all right.
HANSMAN: Yeah, it's this, like, big, chunky climate change book. But he does such a good, interesting job of telling the stories of the people who live on this island. You know, there's a shipwreck, and there's weddings. And there's all these kind of day-to-day stories. And by getting into those, he really gets into kind of these hard questions about the reality of climate change and who's going to be sacrificed and how we make decisions as a country and as a community about what we value.
CORNISH: Right. That's "Chesapeake Requiem: A Year With The Watermen Of Vanishing Tangier Island" by Earl Swift. "A Song For The River" is by Philip Connors - very different.
HANSMAN: Yeah. It's sort of a memoir, and it's kind of one of those, like, Thoreauvian stories about a place. Philip Connors was a fire lookout in New Mexico. There was sort of a tragic accident that happened there. He is able to kind of talk about how climate change and fire and drought has changed that landscape and not make it heavy handed and boring and weaves a lot of disparate things together.
CORNISH: At this point, when you are traveling or you're going to spend some time outdoors, do you actually bring a book? And if you do, how do you think about what to bring?
HANSMAN: (Laughter) I definitely do. I always (laughter) - I always bring a book. When I'm out in the back country or I'm gone for a while, that's, like, one of the only times I get to read and not have my phone beeping at me or not be distracted by other things. So it's, like, almost kind of, like, the best place to be reading (laughter).
CORNISH: Heather Hansman - she's a correspondent for Outside magazine. The books she brought to us included "Chesapeake Requiem" by Earl Swift, "A Song For The River" by Philip Connors and "Lands Of Lost Borders" by Kate Harris. Thank you for speaking with us.
HANSMAN: Thank you.
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