What I’ve been reading: October, 2023

  • Passage to Juneau: A Sea and Its Meanings

    I loved this book: definitely made me want to buy a boat and sail up the coast to Alaska. The writing is great, the history was interesting, and the storytelling was top notch. Seems like a fun trip to do some day. Quotes:

    • Page 118: on the difference between Americans & Canadians: "This blunt distinction fitted nicely with a subtler one made by Russell Brown, a Canadian literary critic. Trawling a broad net through American and Canadian fiction, Brown suggested that one essential difference between the two cultures lay in the characters of Oedipus and Telemachus. In the States, a society founded on revolution, the mythic hero was the runaway son, the patricide; Oedipus as Huckleberry Finn. Escape, rebellion, the cult of the new life at the expense of the old, were the commanding American themes. Up north, in a society founded on the refusal to rise up against its parent, the mythic hero was the loyal son of Odysseus, Telemachus; the voyager in search of the lost father. Americans broke with their ancestral pasts, whereas Canadians honored theirs."
    • Page 363: "Alaska was regarded as an inexhaustible treasury of natural assets, to be looted for the nation’s benefit. One of its great attractions was its remoteness; and things could be done there that would not have been tolerated in Washington or Oregon. Young men could run profitably wild in Alaska without damaging the social fabric of their staid hometowns. In the dog days of peacetime, Alaska held out the promise of all the noise and excitement of a major foreign war."
    • Page 431, a quote from Marcus Aurelius: "In the life of a man, his time is but a moment, his being an incessant flux, his senses a dim rushlight, his body a prey of worms, his soul an unquiet eddy, his fortune dark, and his fame doubtful. In short, all that is of the body is as coursing waters, all that is of the soul as dreams and vapours; life a warfare, a brief sojourning in an alien land; and after repute, oblivion."

    (tags: travel exploration alaska sailing navigation ocean )

  • The Alps: A Human History from Hannibal to Heidi and Beyond

    A bit of a letdown compared to the passion and writing that was in The High Sierra (by KSR). Would not recommend, still on the hunt for a book or two about the Alps, Pyrenees, and Dolomites.

    (tags: history travel germany switzerland mountains geography italy austria alps )