As the sun sets on another hot Bozeman day, you sit on your couch pondering what to do. You could turn on the boob-tube and watch yet another rerun of Bear Grylls biting the heads off venomous snakes and building a fire from sticks and stones… or you could pick up a book and exercise your brain. Below is a list of books, reviewed by the O/B interns, that will make you think, laugh, want to travel, and marvel at Montana’s history. Take your pick or read them all.
Photographer in the Midst: From Yellowstone to the Yellow Stone Stronghold in China
Ever wonder how anyone becomes a “professional” photographer? I mean, it seems pretty arbitrary who gets to sell their photos for a living and who doesn’t, am I right? While David Peterson might not have the exact answer, a collection of embellished snapshots of his life in his new e-book Photographer in the Midst (self-published, $10) will have you chuckling to yourself from the first page. As you read about bosses nicknamed A.Dolph Ringworm and manikin arms in restaurant freezers left for health inspectors to find, you will soon become all too familiar with Peterson’s mischievious character and notorious use of wordplay. Peterson’s humorous style is fluent and mostly easy to read, but can be quirky and feel as if you are trying to interpret an inside joke you’re not a part of. So pay attention. Download Peterson’s e-book onto your Kindle by purchasing it at amazon.com (see link below) or by visiting his website at photographerinthemidst.com. You can also view Peterson's writing here.
Yellowstone: Near, Far & Wild
Before reading David Peterson’s book, you may want to check out his photography in his new photo-book Yellowstone: Near, Far & Wild (Farcountry Press, $20). As the Park's resident photographer, he has captured everything from jaw-dropping aerial shots of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River to up-close images of microbiota. Portraits of playful bears pawing at dragonflies portray the lighthearted side of Yellowstone, while images of wolves stalking buffalo evoke ominous thoughts and remind us of the harsh realities of the wild—just a couple of the many moods captured by Peterson. Introduction paragraphs and captions communicate exactly what the picture is and where the photo was taken. Peterson has come as close as any in encompassing all that is Yellowstone in this excellent coffee table addition. His book is one that you will pick up over and over again. Available at amazon.com (see link below).
Images of America: Livingston Roundup Rodeo
Known affectionately to many as "Cowboy Christmas," Livingston Roundup Rodeo (Arcadia Publishing, $22) is the subject of a new release from the series, Images of America. Step back in time as Carla G. Williams takes the reins and gives readers a fresh way to experience this iconic part of Montana's identity by providing images dating as far back as the 1920s. This compilation of historic and modern photographs shows how the rodeo transformed from humble beginnings into a national treasure. Everything from cowboy portraits to bull-riding action shots capture the many aspects of the rich lifestyles that make up the Roundup Rodeo. Included at the end of the book is a glossary of Rodeo terms to help you fit in at the next Roundup Rodeo event. Perfect for history buffs and rodeo aficionados, this book is a great way to wrangle up a living piece of Montana's history. Available at amazon.com (see link below).
The High Divide
Lin Enger’s The High Divide (Workman Publishing, $25) is a historical-fiction novel that will pluck at the heartstrings of those who believe in forgiveness, loyalty, and faith. Set in the year 1886, this story tells of a father who leaves two sons and a wife behind in his pursuit for redemption. While his family seeks out his whereabouts, following him to the badlands of Montana, they gradually realize just how little they know about the man who left them behind. Determination and devotion instill patience in the whole family—patience “to wait out the storm.” A well-written book with descriptive diction that creates tender prose, this book will warm your heart. Available September 23, 2014 at amazon.com.
Montana State Parks
From the steep cliffs on the Smith River to the dinosaur fossil fields of Makoshika, Montana State Parks (Riverbend Publishing, $20) provides a concise guide and an easy-to-pack travel companion for that road trip you’ve been planning around the great state of Montana. In light of the 75th anniversary of Montana’s state parks system, Erin Madison and Kristen Inbody have put together the first guide to include all of the 55 state parks in Montana. Descriptions of each park include quotes from park rangers, vistors, and historians that give unique qualities of each park. “Don’t Miss” sidebars provide you with must-do activities so you can get the most out of your experince and photos offer proof of the parks aesthetic scenery. Small enough to fit inside your retro-van and light enough to carry in your backpack, this book will help you “fall in love with Montana all over again.” Take the State Park Challenge and visit all 55 parks in one year. Available at Country Bookshelf and amazon.com (see link below).
Depicting the lingering mental traumas of the Vietnam War with six combat veterans, Frank Seitz’s 1000 Daggers (Christopher Matthews Publishing, $14) takes us into one of Montana’s underfunded and oft-forgotten-about VA mental hospitals. The messages of the story are good: not all mental disorders can be fixed with bookish diagnoses; we are all misunderstood in one way or another; and the Vietnam War has far reaching implications. Yet, 1000 Daggers was burdened with clichéd characters and situations, overly explicit classic literature references, and unnecessary explanations and etymologies of psychology terms. Although it has good intentions and is an interesting read, 1000 Daggers falls short in execution, as the real issues of mental-health awareness and treatment are bogged down in pedantic writing. Available at christophermatthewspub.com and amazon.com (see link below).