We stock up on good books before we leave for fishing every summer. Though the days of June through September are the longest and toughest work, it's also the time of year when we find ourselves more often than not, engrossed in a good book. I've always loved fishing because once we leave for the summer, we leave distractions behind. All we're really supposed to do is find fish, catch fish, and think about catching fish. And in the meantime, during slow moments and days off, we enjoy the rest -- a nap, a cup of tea, a handwritten letter, a good book.
This year we drove our big truck up to Anchorage to fill it with groceries at Costco. We had blocks of cheese and bags of Fruit & Nut mix spilling out of our overflowing carts. We somehow packed it all into the back of the truck and then drove straight to Titlewave, the used bookstore. We spent a few hours there, picking up books, putting some back, finding the perfect combination of slower, thoughtful stories and fast, punchy hits.
I've been collecting cookbooks for awhile now. Even though it's tough to follow recipes while cooking on the boat (i.e. limited ingredients, limited patience), I'm bringing a few on the boat to read like books: the Tutka Bay Lodge Cookbook: Coastal Cuisine from the Wilds of Alaska (Kirsten Dixon), A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus (Renee Erickson), and POLPO: A Venetian Cookbook (Of Sorts) (Russell Norman). All of these are beautiful books and have promisingly tasty photos of seafood.
A book that always comes with us is the Sibley Guide to Birds (David Allen Sibley). Identifying birds in the wheelhouse becomes a family activity, and sometimes it's just nice to marvel at the intricacies of bird feathers and wing colors rather than fish scales and spots.
The remaining stack of books on my floor waiting to get packed into my duffle bag are pictured below. Most have been recommended to me, or have been written by authors I've had the pleasure of knowing or reading before. I hope these titles inspire you to pick up a stack of your own summer reads, and delve into the swell of a good story.
All the Light we Cannot See - Anthony Doerr
On Such a Full Sea - Chang-Rae Lee
Provence 1970 - Luke Barr
Ordinary Wolves - Seth Kantner
Prodigal Summer - Barbara Kingsolver
Shantaram - Gregory David Roberts
Tenth of December - George Saunders
The History of Love - Nicole Krauss
Like You'd Understand, Anyways - Jim Shepard
Five Quarters of the Orange - Joanne Harris
The Golden Spruce - John Vaillant
Mountains Beyond Mountains - Tracy Kidder
The Good Lord Bird - James McBride
Gould's Book of Fish - Richard Flanagan