Top Shelf Books

Dozens of books make it across the O/B editorial desk every season—here’s the cream of the crop. These spring selections are guaranteed to get you in the outdoor mood, regardless of how crappy the weather may be.

It can be hard for the average weekend outdoorsman to associate the wilderness with anything but serenity, but author Scott McMillion provides a refreshing dose of reality in his book, Mark of the Grizzly (Falcon Publishing, $17). Written in the easy-to-read style of fast-paced journalism, McMillion uses the true accounts of grizzly-attack victims to communicate the dangers of North America’s greatest predator. Originally published in 1998, this revised edition includes new stories of recent bear attacks and the victims’ hard-learned lessons. Along with expanding the respect and appreciation for the grizzly, this book promises to leave readers with newfound sympathy as well. An honest—and sometimes graphic—read, Mark of the Grizzly makes clear that in confrontations between man and bear, it nearly always turns out worse for the bear.

If you’re heading anywhere south of I-90 between Red Lodge and Livingston, Day Hikes in the Beartooth Mountains (Day Hikes Books, $16) by Robert Stone should be in your pack. Comparing the extra-thick volume to its slimmer predecessor, the 5th edition adds an impressive 120 pages to an already extensive coverage of the area, with dozens of new hikes and trail maps. Every entry gives you distance, hiking time, and elevation gain, along with naming the appropriate U.S. Geological Survey map if you’re looking for extra detail. And since the author has personally hiked every trail, expect excellent directions to the trailhead and to the summit.

Helpful without being overwhelmingly thorough, Whitney Tilt’s new guidebook Flora of Montana’s Gallatin Region (Gallatin Valley Land Trust, $25) offers easy-to-follow field descriptions of 250 shrubs, trees, wildflowers, and grasses in the region. Most notably, the guide includes an index of flowers by color and photo for quick reference. The field descriptions also feature multiple photos and illustrations of each plant at varying angles, helping novice botanists prevent mistaken identifications. All in all, it makes for an informative, easy-to-use guide for everyone.

The Whitefish Review (Whitefish Review, $12) is a work of art. A literary journal compiled twice a year, the Review perfects the balance that is key to a readable and charming artistic collection. Its pages are scattered with poems, paintings, essays, photography, and more, and the best part is that the Review is unmistakably Montana. Though not all of the content is outdoor-related, it is—as editor Matt Holloway states in the introduction—wild. This journal is passionate and emotional, impulsive and natural: words that, not coincidentally, also describe the heart of Montana.