A blogger I follow, Ken Dowell, recently posted his top six books of 2019. That gave me the idea to look at the books I’ve read this year and rate the ones related to public lands. I completed my Goodreads challenge of 38 books read for the year, up from 32 in 2018.
Three of the 38 were related to National Parks and one to a National Forest. When we are traveling to our vacation destinations by plane, I like to download a novel about that place to read on the journey. Alas, I was in the midst of a 1000 page fantasy epic on our flight to Hawaii this year, but I managed to get in a viewing of Moana with my daughter to get into the Aloha spirit.
Have you ever read a book about, or set in a National Park? Would you recommend it? Here are the ones I read this year, in no particular order:
My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
This is a work of historical fiction, but a very well-researched, compelling one. Not having a small fortune to spend on the Broadway production of Hamilton, this was a more accessible way to form a connection to our founding fathers and the birth of our nation. I especially liked that it was told from Eliza’s point of view.
The authors discuss their sources at the end of the book and they did travel to many of the sites where the events took place, such as Saratoga, Morristown and The Grange. After reading the novel, I saw that the Grange was putting on an Eliza-focused event for Women’s History month and I made sure to attend.
Track of the Cat by Nevada Barr
This is the first in a series of 19 books about the adventures of Anna Pigeon, a National Park Service Law Enforcement Ranger. Each novel is a mystery which Anna must solve within the confines of a national park and its community.
Track of the Cat is Anna’s first assignment to Guadalupe Mountains National Park in West Texas. There she must solve the puzzle behind the mysterious death of a fellow ranger.
Nevada Barr was a Park Ranger herself and created the character of Anna Pigeon when she was working in Guadalupe NP. Her descriptive imagery of the terrain, wildlife and the insider view of the NPS can only have come from firsthand experience.
I have not yet been to any of the Texas parks, but my friends Scott and Tiff over at Raven About The Parks have blogged about Guadalupe. You can see that post here.
Dark Divide and Badlands Witch by Carrie Vaughn
These paranormal novellas are very loosely tied to public lands. An ex-con retired from vampire hunting and the centuries old witch who shares his consciousness travel to Donner Pass to help a Tahoe National Forest Ranger solve the mystery behind another ranger’s death…was it the ghosts of the Donner Party?
I don’t have pictures, but I have been through Donner Pass. A friend and I were traveling for our company many years ago. The plan was to start off in our Reno stores and then drive to Sacramento to rendezvous with a district manager. A sudden snowstorm in the pass trapped us in a fleabag motel in Reno for the night. Rather than risk the specter of starvation and cannibalism in a Sierra Nevada blizzard, we shared a room, pushed a dresser against the door and slept with one eye open until the sun rose the next day.
In Badlands Witch, the duo heads to the Badlands to solve another supernatural murder mystery. These books are fun, quick reads that are more about immersing the reader in the Kitty-verse (these characters are a spin-off from the Kitty Norville series) than in the landscape, but the author did do her research to make sure she got the vibe right.
Carrie Vaughn posted about her Badlands research trip here. She also visited Deadwood and Custer State Park.
Happy New Year!