Category: books

Beyond Backpacking

by Ray Jardine

A classic backpacking manual. Jardine invented an integrated system for backpacking very light, with a pack weight of about 10 pounds (not including food and water). So, for a 5 day trip you might start with 8 pounds of food, and often carry 2 liters of water, and your total weight would be 22 pounds, and go down from there.

I adopted his system.…

Ocean Crossing Wayfarer

by Frank Dye

If you like sailing tales this is a good one. Frank Dye recounts two of his most harrowing voyages: one from Scotland to Iceland, the other from Scotland to Norway. Both were sailed in his 16 foot wooden open boat in the 1970s, and were beset by storms.…


by Italo Calvino

This might be the ultimate read-aloud book to share with a sweetheart or your kids. It is equally interesting and amusing for grown ups and kids, as it mixes cosmology and Italian folk wisdom in ludicrous tales.

Reassess your chess

by Jeremy Silman

This is a very interesting chess book for me, and it is my primary middlegame guide. I still read it frequently when I want to study chess.…

The Americans

by Robert Frank

Is there anything more to say about this amazing monograph? How could Robert Frank get it so right, go so deep, with such seemingly small means? How could these few photos create such a powerful force of art? When I was in high school this book had an intense effect on me.

Generations of photographers have made their own personal trek across the USA, but none that I’ve seen have surpassed this great work.…

Listening to the River

by Robert Adams

This book is a subtle and quiet monograph of black and white photos of the desolate backroads around Denver.

I’ll say how I found it. I picked it up in a bookstore, flipped through it and put it down, annoyed. What was the point of that, I thought? A couple of days later a I went back to check it again: what was the point of such a book?!…

The Keepers of Light

by William Crawford

It is subtitled “A history and working guide to early photographic processes”.

When I was in art school, at the University of Washington, this was my primary guide. It is no bible, because it is flawed in many respects—it contains many poor formulas, but it did get me experimenting with chemistry and making prints, and working out the key formulae for myself.  I made very many cyanotypes and salted paper prints.…

The Cellist Of Sarajevo

by Steven Galloway

I have morbid curiosity for what evil deeds humans can do to each other. The siege of Sarajevo was easily one of the most brutal wars of the late 20th century, almost as horrific as the Rawandan genocide. This small novel puts one in that terrifying time and place and asks how could one retain one’s humanity amid senseless cruelty and murder?

I assume it is essentially historically accurate.  …

Everyday Life in Ancient Egypt

by Jon Manchip White

I love ancient history, and Egypt’s is as bizarre and beautiful as any on earth. I am sure there are better books than this curious little thing, but it captivates me nonetheless.…

The Sunlight Dialogs

By John Gardner

Did anyone write more dense and intense novels than John Gardner? Novels that got into more inextricable, painful knotted pathways of emotion and fateful consequence?

I never did finish this book.  I think of it as on a par with V by Thomas Pynchon.…