Ruth has worked at Fireside Books off and on since the summer of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and is currently the frontlist buyer. She reads a lot of Alaskan history, epic novels, science and natural history, speculative fiction, and all the picture books.
Ruth says: Castner canoed the entire Mackenzie River in summer of 2016, from Slave Lake to the Arctic Ocean. His strong writing makes short work of a long paddle, and he brings a profitable haul of stories from the territory, alternating his contemporary travelogue with the journeys of Alexander Mackenzie and other fur-trade voyageurs. Abandon notions of timeless wilderness! Mackenzie’s grueling foray into the unknown in the cold of the Little Ice Age could have happened in another world, compared to Castner’s sunburned and lightning-plagued trip in our hot century. Mackenzie thought he failed to find a Northwest Passage to the Pacific, but he was just 200 years too early for ice-free Arctic shipping routes.
Reading this will make you eager for the thaw so you can launch a canoe and go somewhere. I’m not quite as ambitious as Brian Castner, but I might paddle Palmer Slough all the way to the Pacific.
Eowyn recommended this to me, and she's never steered me wrong. Reading it is like a deep and entertaining after-dinner conversation with your most interesting friend. The author walked the Appalachian Trail, but this isn’t a hiker’s travelogue – that experience is just a jumping-off point for examinations of how and why we make trails, and how they make us. It’s the sort of book that deepens the way you read the landscape around you.
This has been my favorite book since age 4 and I still stand by that choice. I used some pictures from it in a presentation on Beringia for a 400-level quaternary biogeography class, and my professor was so excited he wanted his own copy. Paleontology, plate tectonics, and songs by Hobo Jim! Every kid needs Thunderfeet.