The Books of Huckberry: Spring 2016

We raided our shelves to share some of our all time favorite books
March 3, 2016Words by Jon GlatfelterPhotos by Anthony Kerrigan

St. Augustine wrote that, "the world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." Here at Huckberry HQ, we like to think this is as much a recommendation for reading as for traveling — and for the same reason. A book is a world, and by reading them we can travel to them. So we thought we'd share a few of our favorite destinations — fiction, nonfiction, poetry — it's a really eclectic list that we hope will inspire your next road trip across the pages. Whether you're going our way or decide on a different route, we'd love to hear where you end up. Let us know in the comments and as always, we'll see you out there. [H]

Editor's Note: More than once, we've been asked to resurrect our Huckberry Book Club (check out a few here, here, and here). If you can't get enough of our must-reads, stay tuned for more – we'll be rolling out seasonal recommendations all year long.

Alex Souza, Director of Photography

Eiger Dreams encompasses Krakauer's finest collection of work from numerous publications across the climbing and outdoor industry. Each gripping story transports the reader to the front line of the action with harrowing detail and vivid accounts of some of the most daring expeditions in mountaineering history. Its like sitting in the local climbing pub in Chamonix listing to the grizzled man at the end of the bar tell you about his near death experience on the Norwand. Yes it's that rad.

Favorite quote: “Most climbers aren't in fact deranged, they're just infected with a particularly virulent strain of the Human Condition.” 

Favorite reading spot: Any subalpine hammock in the Sierra.

 Zach Piña, Managing Editor

Granted, only a very small fraction of the millions of certified divers exploring the oceans today will ever see more than a few colorful fish, but this book isn’t about any of them. Instead, it’s about an elite fraternity of wreck divers who live and breathe the very things that have always captured my imagination with diving – the danger, the technical complexity, the lost history, and the fact that despite mankind’s best efforts, the overwhelming vast majority (around 95% to be exact) of the ocean remains largely unexplored. Shadow Divers revolves around an accidental discovery of a German U-Boat in seriously deep waters off the coast of New Jersey, but the story really starts to find its stride when maritime history reveals that no U-Boat was ever recorded sunk in the area. As the divers penetrate deeper into the sub in pursuit of recovering artifacts that could prove its identity, the danger to life and limb intensifies, and so does the mystery, as the divers repeatedly come up empty-handed season after season. It’s the stuff of an old Clive Cussler adventure novel, but it’s ripped straight from the headlines, and one that I just couldn’t put down – even though I’d already known the ending from both Wikipedia, and the stellar PBS special “Hitler’s Lost Sub” from over a decade ago. 

Favorite reading spot: I do all my reading on my twice-daily ferry ride from Larkspur to the San Francisco Ferry terminal. It's a quiet, usually thoughtful time I share with a few hundred other commuters as we sail across the bay. 

Logan Stoneman, CX Associate 

I discovered Walden on my 60-mile solo backpacking trip through Iceland's highlands. Pairing Thoreau's words with the eye-popping landscape cemented my incessant exploration into nature and philosophy. Over 150 years after the book was penned, his pursuit of minimalist, naturalist, and self-exploration values echo loudly. If I could go back to anywhere along that trail with Thoreau, I'd be reliving some of the best days of my life.

Favorite quote: "I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor." 

Another recommendation: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig.

 Liv Combe, Senior Editor 

Once I'd initially heard of Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, I started seeing it everywhere. It was passed around during a book swap. Someone was reading it on the bus. A friend offhandedly recommended it to me. Obviously, the universe was telling me I had to read it. The title comes from a story Lamott recounts about her brother who, when he was 10, had procrastinated so much on a school report on birds that he had to sit down to work on the whole thing in less than a day. "He was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books about birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the tasks ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother's shoulder, and said, 'Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'" Bird reports, writing, life — it all applies here, which makes Anne Lamott's story a worthy, easy read. Bird by Bird isn't only for writers, but I suspect that if, like me, you do write for a living or as a hobby, you'll absorb an extra bit of wisdom from this book.

Favorite reading spot: The left side of my couch and/or on a blanket in Golden Gate Park.

Another recommendation: A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit.

Justus Zimmerly, Editor

I've always loved local history for the deeper sense of connection it can make me feel with a place. From the 200-million-year saga of how the San Francisco peninsula came to exist to the story of the eccentric local who proclaimed himself "Emperor of the United States," Gary Kamiya takes a closer look at the many fibers that weave together to make the fabric of San Francisco. You come away from it with an even greater curiosity about what might lie around the corner on every block.

Favorite reading spot: The toilet. Sitting in a sunbeam on the couch is okay too, I guess.

Another recommendation: Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers by Leonard Koren. While totally different in concept from Cool Gray City of Love, it's similar in that you come away from it seeing the small details of your surroundings in a new, more complex and more beautiful light.

Emily Dovolis, CX Associate

Since reading The Phantom Tollbooth for the first time in fifth grade, it has always seemed to call to my existential moments of life. When I am troubled with hopeless wandering or discouraging defeat, this book has been there as a great escape and sound advice. With a Watchdog companion, ticking with the reminder of fleeting time, Milo's journey in the land of Reality has always seemed to mimic my own adventures in life. Just like Milo, I don't always understand the journey, but I find a way to keep on going.

Favorite quote: "You know that it's there, but you just don't know where - but just because you can never reach it doesn't mean that it's not worth looking for."

Another recommendation: I recently read Hyperion, a sci-fi novel based on Chaucer's The Canterbury Talesand fell in love with the characters' stories and adventure. With a lot of other allusions to great classics, it had the perfect blend of old and new literature, all in the name of devoted adventure.

Jon Glatfelter, Editor

Who is V.M. Straka? The world's most celebrated author? A radical revolutionary in hiding? The face of a globe-spanning secret society? The answers may just be hidden in his last novel, The Ship of Theseus. Two students definitely think so, who (cautiously) team up to crack the code. See, they're not entirely sure they can trust one another, because they're pretty sure someone is following them. As a fail-safe, they agree to communicate via marginalia in their university library's copy. Conceived by filmmaker J.J. Abrams and written by novelist Doug Dorst, S. is a really unique approach to story(s)telling.

Favorite quote: "A person is no more and no less than the story of his passion and deeds." 

Favorite reading spot: Half Moon Bay or Montara Beach. If it's raining then a big cozy chair on the second floor of Parnassus Library. 

Luis A. Cancel, Assistant Editor

This book will shatter any notion you have of poetry as cheesy, overly-fussy descriptions of flowers and romance. Yes, this is a poetry book. But it's a poetry book about Jack Johnson — the son of two former slaves — who went on to become the world's first black World Heavyweight Boxing Champion. The Big Smoke is dripping with absolutely gorgeous language offering a glimpse into Johnson's larger-than-life persona and his many battles in and outside the ring.

Favorite quote: "Horses smell like what it means to be fast: sweat & gravel kicked up on early morning runs."

Another recommendation: Sasha Fletcher's poems are often absurd, often heartbreaking and always rewarding. Get his full-length debut, It Is Going To Be A Good Year.

Evan Williams, Head of Customer Retention

When I started writing, I tended to overwrite — a lot. Telling a story is hard, and filling up pages with unnecessary descriptors is easy. But if there’s one writer out there who shows that you don’t need many adverbs (or any, really) to tell a powerful narrative, it’s Raymond Carver. He writes in nothing but spare, short sentences and has a gift for making the mundanity of working-class American life not only relevant and relatable, but also fascinating. Case in point: one of his greatest and most well-known stories, A Small Good Thing, begins with the sentence: “Saturday afternoon she drove to the bakery in the shopping center.” It’s kind of infuriating, really.

Favorite quote: The opening line of a story called Viewfinder: “A man without hands came to the door to sell me a photograph of my house. Except for the chrome hooks, he was an ordinary-looking man of fifty or so."

Favorite reading spot: The armchair in the corner of my room right by the window. A glass of Macallan 12 year doesn’t hurt either.

Ross Venables, Photographer 

I prefer reading on screens because I always have them with me and I can keep a whole hell of a lot more books on there then in my pocket. The only downside is battery, you better hope there is a charger in the airport you can reach if your plane ride is more then 6 hours.

Favorite quote: "It doesn't really matter; if it can eat crocodiles, it can certainly guard a moat..." 

Other recommendations: Storm Front by Jim Butcher and The Secular Wizard by Christopher Stasheff.

Jon Glatfelter is an Editor at Huckberry. He reads a book a week and is always on the lookout for a new recommendation, especially ones with sparkly vampires. 


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