North Country scenes and themes fill recent reading list
Most of us didn’t spend 2020 browsing in bookstores, so here’s a shout-out for some of the new Adirondack books that came off the press while we were at home washing our masks. These four novels and three books of nonfiction range from a murder mystery to a forester’s musings about Northeastern forests. — Betsy Kepes
If you’ve missed the Ironman race
Iron Sharpens Iron
by Herb Terns
Sports books aren’t my favorite genre, but Herb Terns’ novel “Iron Sharpens Iron” is more than a series of training tips. Colden McIntyre, a Lake Placid native, wants to win the gold at the Lake Placid Ironman. But he works full-time as a chef at a downtown restaurant, doesn’t own a decent bike and has only recently learned how to swim.
For young readers looking for adventure
by Glenn Erick Miller
The road up Whiteface also appears in “Camper Girl” (Fitzroy Books, 2020), a Young Adult novel by Glenn Erick Miller. Eighteen-year-old Shannon Burke, unable to afford college, goes on a solo quest to the Adirondacks from her home near Utica. She’s inherited her favorite aunt’s old camper and also a set of clues to a scavenger hunt that draws her deeper into the mountains.
A murder mystery for your dock reading
Hid From Our Eyes
by Julia Spencer-Fleming
Julia Spencer-Fleming’s ninth mystery set in the fictional village of Millers Kill, a place where, she writes, “poor farms and Saratoga money and the mountains all come together.” When police chief Russ Van Alstyne is called to a back road to examine the body of a young woman, he suspects a serial killer. Two unsolved murders, in 1952 and 1972, were horribly similar.
Your fix of Adirondack lore
The Power Line
by Christopher Shaw
Christopher Shaw mined memories of his conversations with Adirondack old-timers when he wrote his novel “The Power Line” (Outskirts Press, 2020), set mostly in the 1920s. His characters Fran Germaine and Lonnie Monroe supplement their work for the entrepreneur Paul Smith by transporting alcohol through the woods in a scheme to get booze from Canada to cities downstate. Many adventures ensue.
What you need to know about forests
by Charles Canham
I was fascinated by his chapter “The Fall and Rise of White-tailed Deer.” By the end of the 19th century there were almost no deer in the Northeast because of over-hunting and habitat loss. We’re now in a deer population explosion because of the opposite—regulated hunting and increased habitat. For forests, these extra deer mean that very few tree seedlings survive to become large trees.
Some new hikes to try—and their history
Hiking the Trail to Yesterday, vol. II
by William C. Hill
In his chatty, enthusiastic prose William C. Hill has the voice of a 21st century Adirondack guide in his book “Hiking the Trail to Yesterday, vol. II.”He combines history and hiking in the 14 routes he profiles in his portable book. All of the adventures are in the northwestern Adirondacks and though I know this part of the park well, half of the hikes are new to me.
For history buffs and pancake lovers
A Sugarbush Like None Other
by Matthew Thomas
Matthew Thomas is also fascinated with the history of the area south of Tupper Lake. In “A Sugarbush Like None Other” (Maple History Press, 2020), he tells the story of A.A. Low’s industrial scale 19th century maple sugaring operation at lands around Horseshoe Lake.
More to Explore
This article first appeared in the July/Aug 2021 issue of Adirondack Explorer magazine.
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