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Short Reading List of Angling and other Environmental Literature. Recommendations?

April 24, 2013

As the semester comes to a close, I am providing my “Religion, Nature, and Environment” students (the theme is fly fishing literature) with a bibliography of selected readings.  If you feel that there are any important texts that must be included in a reading list on the topics mentioned, please let me know. Of course, the wonderful texts we’ve already read in class are not included here.  Note that I will add titles, as I think of them and as they are recommended to me.


Bibliography of Selected Angling, Environmental, and other Outdoor Literature (to serve as supplements to assigned readings).

RELI 438, Spring 2013

Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854.

Essays produced during transcendentalist Thoreau’s two-year stay at Walden Pond, in MA.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Wind, Sand, and Stars, 1939.

Early reflections by acclaimed aviator, best known for writing The Little Prince.

Beryl Markham, West with the Night, 1942.

Amazing memoir by aviation pioneer, who spent her childhood and young adult years in Africa.

Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac, and Sketches Here and There, 1949.

Foundational book in American conservationism.

Heinrich Harrar, Seven Years in Tibet, 1952.

Austrian Mountaineer and Himalayan explorer (and then member of the Nazi Ahnenerbe) described his escape from Allied  internment in India, and subsequent years spent in Lhasa with the Dalai Lama (book was made into film starring Brad Pitt).

Henry Bugbee, The Inward Morning: A Philosophical Exploration in Journal Form, 1958.

Lyrical wilderness philosophy, in the existentialist vein, from University of Montana professor and angler.

Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude. Farrar, Straus & Cudahy. 1958.

One of many books on contemplation by Trappist monk and nature mystic.

Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, 1962.

Book that helped launch the modern environmentalist movement.

John McDonald, Quill Gordon, 1972.

Historical essays on fly fishing literature by economist and Fortune magazine contributor.

Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape, 1986.

National Book Award winner by prolific author of environmental literature.

Arnold Gingrich, The Fishing in Print, 1974.

Detailed, bibliographic tour of angling literature through the centuries, by founding editor of Esquire magazine and early promoter of Hemingway and others.

Robert Traver (John Voelker), Trout Magic, 1974.

Entertaining essays by circuit-court judge and famed author of Anatomy of a Murder.

Peter Mattheissen, The Snow Leopard, 1978.

Chronicles personal and professional Himalayan quest by founder of The Paris Review literary magazine.

Gaston Bachelard, Water and Dreams: an Essay on the Imagination of Matter,  1983 (orig. published in French, 1942).

Influential French philosopher and historian of science considers the epistemological significance (or significations) of water.  The text is part of a larger series.

Russell Chatham, Dark Waters: Essays, Stories, and Articles, 1988.

Successful artist and angler reflects upon past experiences and friendships with such figures as writer Richard Brautigan.

Harry Middleton, The Earth is Enough, 1989.

Moving memoir of a childhood spent with eccentric, fly fishing grandfather and uncle by the later nature writer, which now has a cult following.

Doug Peacock, The Grizzly Years: In Search of the American Wilderness, 1990.

Vietnam-era Special Forces medic retreats to the Glacier National Park area to find himself again and becomes grizzly expert along the way.  Peacock is the model for one of environmental writer Edward Abbey’s.

Pete Fromm, Indian Creek Chronicles: A Winter in the Wilderness, 1993.

Author leaves college to work alone in Idaho’s Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness.

Lyla Foggia, Reel Women: The World of Women who Fish, 1997.

Addresses various female figures in the world of fishing, from Juliana Berners to living individuals.

John Krakauer, Into Thin Air, 1997.

Book based upon tragic 1996 deaths on Mount Everest.  Krakauer was there as a journalist for Outside magazine.  He also authored Into the Wild.

Craig Nova, Brook Trout and the Writing Life, 1999.

Describes the place of fish and family in Nova’s early years as a writer.

Thomas McGuane, Some Horses: Essays, 2000.

Reflections upon individual horses loved and admired by McGuane.

Kathy Scott, Moose in the Water/Bamboo on the Bench : a Journal and a Journey, 2000.

Reflective essays upon craft[wo]manship and nature.

Thomas McGuane, The Longest Silence, 2001.

An acclaimed series of essays on angling by one of America’s best know Western writers.

Jamling T. Norgay, Touching My Father’s Soul: A Sherpa’s Journey to the Top of Everest, 2002.

Book by son of Tenzing Norgay, Sherpa who was first to summit Mt. Everest, alongside Sir Edmund Hillary.

 Yvon Chouinard, Let My People Go Surfing, 2005.

Patagonia’s founder explains how he came to understand that sustainable business can be profitable.

Steven Kotler, West of Jesus: Surfing, Science, and the Origins of Belief, 2007.

Book explores the phenomenon of “soul surfing,” and other forms of outdoor recreation often described as religious, from a biological perspective.

Wayne K. Sheldrake, Instant Karma: The Heart and Soul of a Ski Bum (Ghost Road Press, 2007).

Religiously oriented memoir of an avid skier’s early years.

Paul Schullery, Royal Coachman, 1999.

Essays on fly fishing history in the U.S.

Maximillian Werner, Black River Dreams, 2009.

Reflective, religiously oriented essays on angling by creative-writing professor.

Anders Halverson, An Entirely Synthetic Fish, 2010.

Highly acclaimed book on the role of non-native fish in changing the American landscape.

Erin Block.  The View from Coal Creek, 2011.

The writer describes her angling centered life in Colorado.

Eric Eisenkramer and Michael Attas, Fly-Fishing, the Sacred Art: Casting a Fly as a Spiritual Practice, 2012.

Co-authored by a Reform Rabbi and an Episcopal Priest/MD.


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