Spring Sprung Titles

What to say about April? I ran my fastest 10k while ill (go figure). I met two new runners and may have convinced someone to at least try. I don’t know where this acceptance to run with others is coming from. To share a conversation I had with someone: I asked where she runs. She replied she doesn’t have my pace, “nowhere near it” were her exact words. I answered I don’t have that pace all the time either. Me & my pace visit from time to time but we don’t make it a thing. She laughed and I saw myself ten years ago talking to someone who face-times with friends while running. I worried about her relationship with pace. But, this blog is turning into a thing different from reading.

So, without further ado, here are the finished books:


  • Diplomatic Lover by Elsie Lee – read in one day
  • Oxford Murders by Guillermo Martinez – read in two days
  • Celibate Season by Carol Shields and Blanche Howard – read in four days (this book annoyed me and I kept having to put it down)


  • Lost Upland: stories of the Dordogne Region by W.S. Merwin – confessional: DNF (bored, bored, bored)
  • Coming into the Country by John McPhee
  • Henry James: the Untried Years by Leon Edel
  • Another Part of the Wood by Kenneth Clark – this was cheeky!

Series continuations:

  • “F” is for Fugitive by Sue Grafton (I’m calling this a continuation even though I read “A” a long time ago.)
  • Rise of Endymion by Dan Simmons (AB + print so I could finish on time – today!)
  • Blue Lightning by Ann Cleeves – another quick read (finished in four days)

Early Review for LibraryThing:

  • My Life with Bob by Pamela Paul

Coming into the Country

McPhee, John. Coming into the Country. New York: The Noonday Press, 1977.

Reason read: in four months I will be visiting Alaska. I thought I would start reading about it now.

There is a little bit of all things Alaskan in Coming into the Country. To name a few: the trials and tribulations of traveling rivers via kayak, the must-know laws of sport fishing (for example, fishermen are prohibited from catching fish by anything but mouth. Who knew?), Juneau is two time zones away from Anchorage. There’s more: McPhee details the nature of Grizzly bears, the techniques of placer mining, the bickering over the new location of the state capital, marriage and survival, and my favorite, the people of Alaska (transplant and not). The people you meet in Coming into the Country are phenomenal.

As an aside, Pearl may have called Coming into the Country a “classic” but in a timely twist, the boom of oil in Alaska is anything but old news.

Quotes I liked, “The best and worst part of catching that fish was deciding to let it go” (p 77) and “On days when the mail plane does not come, the human atmosphere is notably calmer than it is now” (p 199).

Author fact: I already told you McPhee has a huge list of books he has written. And I already told you I have six of them on my Challenge list. I already reviewed “Crossing the Craton” a few years ago.

Book trivia: There are no photographs in Coming into the Country but there are several different helpful maps.

Nancy said: Nancy called Coming into the Country a “classic” (p 15).

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “All Set For Alaska” (p 15).

“Crossing the Craton”

McPhee, John. “Crossing the Craton.” Annals of the Former World. New York: Farrar, Straus and Grioux, 1998.

For starters, do not be intimidated by the subject matter: geology. McPhee writes with a folksy tone. Right away he is calling the reader “friend.” This is not to say the content of “Crossing the Craton” has been dumbed down. It hasn’t. McPhee doesn’t spare the reader from words like brachiopods, samarain, neodymium and nautiloids and his timelines are a confusing mess. It takes some getting used to but I have to say this, reading about the oldest rock (35 billion years old) from the Minnesota River Valley is pretty fascinating. “Crossing the Craton” is the last chapter in his behemoth book, Annals of the Former World and probably the shortest.

Best quote, “There would be more to tell you if you could sense what you can’t see” (p 626).

Reason read: I am treating the final chapter of Annals of the Former World as a short story since it is under 50 pages long. All the other “chapters” are actually separate books that I will be reading at different times.

As an aside, every since Natalie Merchant sang about the San Andreas fault I have always been curious about it. McPhee talks about it several times in “Crossing the Craton.”

Author fact: John McPhee has written over 24 different books. I only have six of them on my list.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “The Beckoning Road” (p 19).