BOOK IT FOR FATHER'S DAY
Father's Day is approaching, and a list of the best outdoor gadgets to buy for dad is typical fodder for an outdoor writer at this time of year.
Frankly, I always preferred a gift certificate to the outdoors store from my kids so I could buy what I want.
But, I would like to offer another gift suggestion for Father's Day for the outdoorsy dad. Buy him a book. I love books and especially books about the outdoors.
“Where the Red Fern Grows.” “Moby Dick.” “The Call of the Wild.” “A River Runs Through It.” Any book by John Gierach about his fly-fishing adventures is a pleasure to read and would make a great gift for the fly-fishing dad.
I set out to compile a list of outdoor books that would be good Father's Day gifts. I reached out to colleagues in the newsroom, friends on social media and those who not only play, but work in the outdoors, such as Wildlife Department employees and industry professionals.
I discovered there are a lot of books I still need to read. Ken Raymond, The Oklahoman's book editor, claims not to be very outdoorsy, but he provided a long list of suggestions.
“I love ‘The Emerald Mile' by Kevin Fedarko,” Raymond said. “It's about the fastest-ever boat ride through the Grand Canyon. No one will ever go faster, due to a whole bunch of reasons. It's written as literary journalism. The author used to be an editor at Outside magazine. Gave it up to work as a raft guide in the canyon while researching the book. “I also love ‘The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean' by Susan Casey. It's partially about the ocean and its giant waves, but it's also about surfers, especially the greatest one of all, Laird Hamilton.”
Another book Ken recommends is "The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit."
“It's about a guy who spent 27 years in the outdoors in Maine without lighting fires or building a real home or anything,” Raymond said. “He survived by theft and his own wits. He'd found a perfectly isolated area and engineered it into a hidden grotto with a floor made of layers and layers of National Geographic magazines.”
He also said "Grandma Gatewood's Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail" is a good read.
“Emma Gatewood is the first woman to walk the length of the Appalachian Trail by herself,” he said. “In all, she walked three times ... all after the age of 65.”
And Raymond suggests “The Lost City of Z” by David Grann, the story of British explorer Percy Fawcett, who went into the Amazon jungle in 1925 and never returned. It also was turned into a movie.
His wife, Amy Raymond, who is also The Oklahoman's news editor, recommends “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed, named one of the best books of the year in 2012. Two years later it became a movie starring Reese Witherspoon.
The 1949 book “A Sand County Almanac” by Aldo Leopold was the book most often suggested to me by those who responded to my query.
“Read this and you will know why he is the father of conservation,” said Gary Giudice, owner of Blue Heron Communications of Norman.
“It can turn a passive hunter into a sportsman and conservationist,” said John Bellah, president of the Central Oklahoma 89er chapter of Quail Forever.
Other books for which I received multiple recommendations were Ernest Hemingway's 1935 novel “Green Hills of Africa,” a book about a safari he took in Africa; “Into Thin Air” (a personal account of disaster on Mount Everest) and “Into the Wild” (a story of a man who walked off into the wilderness of Alaska) by Jon Krakauer;
“A Tour on the Prairies” by Washington Irving, about his trek in 1832 which included present-day Oklahoma; and Stephen Ambrose's “Undaunted Courage,” the story of Lewis and Clark's exploration of the Louisiana Purchase.
Micah Holmes, information supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, suggested books that appeal to both young children and their fathers.
“Last year, my daughter and I read ‘Hatchet' and ‘My Side of the Mountain,'” he said. “We read them separately, but gave us something common to discuss.”
“My Side of the Mountain” is, of course, a classic and a 1960 Newberry Honor book while “Hatchet” was a 1988 Newbery Honor book. It is about a 13-year-old boy, who following a plane crash, must survive the wilderness on his own with nothing but a hatchet.
Other books to consider for the hunting, hiking or fishing dad include “Meditations on Hunting” by Jose Ortega y Gasset, the most quoted book in sporting literature; Bill Bryson's “A Walk in the Woods,” a comedic adventure of two buddies hiking the Appalachian Trail; and “Reflections at First Light: A Fisherman's Devotional” by Al and Ron Lindner.
And if your dad is an outdoors guy who has a taste for pulp fiction, I would recommend Carl Hiaasen's "Double Whammy," his 1987 novel about cheating and murder on the bass tournament circuit.