Bunny likes to travel, so if you come to Paulina Springs Books in Sisters on the weekend (her days to work), you’ll often be told “she’s gone again!” Now, more so than ever since she has two new grandbabies. Bunny sailed for six years on the high seas before settling into the Sisters scene. She likes to read non-fiction and an occasional really gripping novel. She’s a freelance writer and if you want to confuse her, call her by her given name: Brenda. I’ll bet she won’t know who you’re talking to.
Jim Lynch's books, Highest Tide, Border Songs and Truth Like The Sun, have been featured at Paulina Springs Books and they've been well received. All have received awards and have been adapted to the stage. A friend recommended his latest novel,Before The Wind, knowing my sailing background and love of boats. The prose in his latest novel has been likened to Ken Kesey's Sometimes a Great Notion with a "Melville-like attention to detail". Pretty good company I'd say. Before The Wind is a family saga about the Johannssen family who build and races (I mean, seriously races) sailboats on Puget Sound. The father and grandfather are the patriarchs of the family while their mother is the brain of the family as a high school physics teacher and Einstein-obsessed scholar. Did you know Einstein was an avid, albeit terrible, sailor? The two sons always seem to be butting heads with their father, but it's the younger sister who is the gifted and enigmatic sailor of the family. As in most sagas, the kids grow up and venture off to the wilds of the world. Of course, this has to end up with the entire family meeting up for that last big race. It is obvious Lynch knows his stuff. The accounts of racing, marinas, the people who hang out and around marinas-it's all spot-on. Give this book a chance and you'll soon find yourself captivated by this family and their intense dynamics.
You may have heard about the dogged determination and extreme hardships endured by explorers such as Ernest Shackleton, David Livingston or Alexander Mackenzie. Maybe you missed the rather ordinary name Percy Fawcett but once you read about his life, you won't forget him. Born in England in 1867, Fawcett joined the Royal Military becoming an excellent sharpshooter in the artillery unit. He married, had children and tried to settle into a family life but found it difficult to focus after only a few months. Between 1906 and 1924, he left his family to make seven expeditions in various places in South America. Somewhere along the way, Fawcett heard about a lost city where a civilization once existed in the Amazon region that contained arches, statues and temples with possibilities of gold and other riches. Could it be the famed El Dorado sought after by gold chaser? He became obsessed and called it cryptically the 'Lost City of Z' fearing other explorers might find this place first. In 1925, Fawcett, his eldest son, Jack, and Jack's best friend, Raleigh Rimell returned to Brazil to find the Lost City of Z. They never returned. Grann, a staff writer for The New Yorker, knows nothing about exploring, camping or 'roughing it', but he sets about following the Fawcett's last path. At times funny and other time horrifying, you'll learn a lot about the conditions within the deep jungles of the Amazon and the men who tried to conquer it. A movie based on the book was released in 2017 garnering good reviews and is available to rent or buy.
If you think Percy Fawcett was an amazing man, then you need to read about Alexander von Humboldt. There is nobody else on earth with more things named after him than Humboldt: rivers, mountains, cities, animals, insects, flowers, plants-there's even two asteroids named after Humboldt. Alexander was a disappointment to his status-seeking parents. He chose collecting plants and insects over opera and politics eventually becoming the father of ecology and the most advanced thinking environmentalist of all times. Wulf follows Humboldt's travels and reveals how he created his ideas that nature was a web of life and described earth as a 'living organism'. It was quite controversial at the time, but practically indisputable. What could be more appropriate in this day and age with the climate controversy and Al Gore's release of the sequel to An Inconvenient Truth to read about the man who started us on the path to take care of our earth?
Who could visit the Galapagos (a fantastic and must-see place by the way) without thinking about 'Darwin's finches'? What was it that made these tiny little rather nondescript birds so important? Darwin's theory of evolution was cobbled together using plants and theories but it was scientists, Peter and Rosemary Grant, who tediously logged the birth, growth, activities, sex life and changes of these birds on a tiny island in the Galapagos called Daphne Major. During a drought in 1976-1977, only one in seven of the finches on the island survived. A sad and heart-wrenching event that would eventually speak volumes about evolution. In that short time the average beak size of finches changed and this change was passed onto the following generations of finches. The Grants found that natural selection was not necessarily rare or painfully slow over thousands of years. Natural selection was taking place by the day and their groundbreaking scientific research gives us an insight to the importance of understanding our lives and the life of our earth. This book won a Pulitzer Prize and Jonathan Weiner proves to be an amazing writer who can explain the complicated yet simplistic subject of evolution.
Many of you may remember the popular bestseller by McCann ‘Let the Great World
Spin’. In this novel, the author takes us on a journey-actually several journeys.
McCann reaches back to his Irish heritage with three stories, linking America and
Ireland, thus the trans Atlantic theme. We follow Frederick Douglas in his 1845 visit
to Ireland, the 1919 trans Atlantic flight of British aviators Alcock and Brown from
Newfoundland to Ireland, and the former US Senator George Mitchell who in 1998
attempted to mediate a peace agreement in Northern Ireland. The link to these
seemingly unrelated stories? It’s the woman we met from the first story; an Irish
housemaid who was inspired by Douglas and she dreams of a better life and
freedom. I love books that weave threads throughout time like an old piece of
clothing, portraying historical figures as they influence these threads and beautifully
bringing it all together in the end so that we anxiously read to the last page. There
are many descriptions that nail the harshness of the times by painting a picture of
the depth of Ireland’s poverty and the indifference of the wealthy citizens. This is a
great book club read or one to take on a plane trip when you want to lose yourself
and escape the jet noise.