Creative,  Reading

March 2016 Book Report


+Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon: As I finish my third reading of this book, I have to say I have developed an appreciation for taking it slow and sussing out the details of this book and series. With any of Diana Gabaldon’s books, when they first come out it is a race to devour the story, to see where it leads. Often I finish mentally exhausted, which is to be expected after 800+ pages. And then I don’t pick the book up again for years. I’ve read the first four in the Outlander series multiple times and really need to pick up the last four once again. I’m curious how my opinion of the tv show’s rendition of the story will unfold having been so close to the story for these last several months.

+The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz: As I mentioned in the February book report about this book, I hadn’t realized it was a YA novel. It definitely had two of my favorite common threads of a YA novel: historical and a heroine. However, the story fell flat a few times. The premise of the novel is of a young girl of about 14, pre-WWI, who is living in an emotionally, and borderline physically abusive household. As primary caretaker to her father and brothers, there’s little love going around. She wants an education but has been forced by her father to abandon her schooling, not unheard of in that time, to run the household since her mother died. After seeing an ad in the paper about actually getting paid for work as a hired girl, she makes a run for it one day using money her mother had hidden for her in a doll.

Eventually she makes it to a larger city and by weird circumstances comes to work in a Jewish household. There’s a lot of concealment of age, young crushes, and a coming of age story tied up in there. If I had been a teeanger I would have loved the story more but as an adult I saw a lot of faulty story going on. That said, if you want a light YA read, it’s worth checking out.

+The Florida Trail End to End: A Father and His Sons Two and a Half Year Adventure Hiking 1100 Miles Across Florida by Mike Umbarger: I have held off for years in reading hiking memoirs in an effort not to sway my writing of my own trail story. However, when I began working on my book proposal I found out I needed to know the market of what was currently on sale for the genre. Being that there are relatively few Florida Trail memoirs out there compared to the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails, it was fairly easy to pick a few books to scope out.

I chose this as a Kindle read. It was self published by the author and hiker, and is a narrative, as the title suggests, of the section hike he went on with his sons. I hesitate to be too harsh because it is someone’s creative endeavor, but the book needed serious editing. However, I did find a lot of humor and inspiration threading through the book. I also commiserated many times with some of the stories, particularly with the wretched Lake Butler Forest. What I liked best was that he was taking his kids on a journey that most people don’t even attempt to do. As someone who actively tries to engage my own son in the natural world, I really hope that I can take Forest on section hikes or maybe even a short thru-hike in the coming years.

Currently Reading

+The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help by Amanda Palmer: This is kind of an on-hold book only because I didn’t finish listening to it before it expired with the library. I was so close to finishing it, too! I’m now like 17th in line for it once again!

If you don’t know who Amanda Palmer is, she’s a musician and performance artist. She’s also married to author Neil Gaiman. If you want a little background on her you can see her TED Talk. I listened to this as an audio book and I highly, highly recommend it. Amanda read the book herself and is an excellent choice for doing so. She should narrate more audio books! Interspersed throughout is music from her solo work as well as her work with The Dresden Dolls.

I won’t go into detail about the book until I finish it, which might be a few months since I’m so far down the list again! But from what I’ve listened to so far I definitely recommend you put it on your list of to-read non-fiction books.

+Along the Florida Trail by Bart Smith and Sandra Friend: One of the books I purchased for my proposal research. Love it so far! I found a used book on Amazon and it was signed by Sandra. This is more of a photo book accompanied with narrative about each of the sections of the Florida Trail.

+Hiking the Florida Trail: 1,100 Miles, 78 Days, Two Pairs of Boots, and One Heck of an Adventure by Johnny Molloy: Molloy gets around in the hiking and backpacking book world. He’s had a ton of books published. This story is about his thru-hike of the trail in the mid 2000s. I haven’t read much of it yet but it is well written and very interesting so far!

+Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout by Phillip Connors This book has been on my radar for several years now. I’m sure it was profiled in Backpacker or Outside which is probably where I found out about it. As I’d finished Umbarger’s book, I needed another Kindle read for Forest’s bedtime (he takes 45 min-1 hr to get to sleep…so I have lots of time sitting around in the dark!) and tried finding backpacking and hiking books from the Overdrive library app. Those searches yielded little results and so I tried ‘wilderness’ and came up with this book. I saw Finding Everett Ruess hiding in there, too, so it might be my next read.


+The Map of Lost Memories by Kim Fay

+How to Live: A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at An Answer by Sarah Bakewell

+Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival by Bernd Heinrich

+Captive Queen: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine by Allison Weir

What are you reading?


  • Patrice

    I find I can’t read fiction anymore. I think I just haven’t come across one I like. I am reading a fiction book right now, and the writing is really good, so we’ll see.

  • lisa valinsky

    I’m almost done with a book called What Is Mine. It’s about a baby who is kidnapped (I know, probably a strange/creepy subject to read about as a new mom!). I found it at the library and had been in search of a quick and light book. Enjoying reading with a cup of tea each night before bed.

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