Inspiration for how to spend your summer vacation can be found on the shelves of the DePaul Library. We have many books that dig deeper than travel guides; these books explore the historical, cultural, and environmental significance of places. If nature factors into your vacation plans, reach for one of the following three books to gain a better understanding of the physical world we inhabit.
My most memorable vacations have been spent recharging in the forests, waters, and mountains of several U.S. national parks. Being in the presence of rocks that are thousands of years old quickly puts the concerns of life in perspective. But after reviewing National Parks: The American Experience (4th ed.), I realize that the enduring natural wonders of these lands belie the tenuous beginnings and continued existence of the national park system. Alfred Runte, an environmental historian, captures this vulnerability early in the book with a carefully documented history of the interplay between the establishment of Yosemite and Yellowstone in the late 1800s. In the remaining chapters, Runte addresses the decades of controversies and ideological differences that have challenged the parks, and the environmental concerns of today including melting glaciers, fires, recreational vehicles, and wildlife management. John T. Richardson Library, Call Number: 973 R943N
Forests for the People: The Story of America’s Eastern National Forests was clearly written from the heart. The following anecdote that Christopher Johnson and David Govatski share poignantly explains their motivation for researching and writing this book. According to legend, the forests were so dense in the 1500s that “a squirrel could have scrambled across treetops from Maine to Minnesota without ever touching the ground” (p. 9). Sadly, by 1900 the eastern forests of the U.S. had been decimated by logging, and especially clear-cutting. But through the passionate conservation efforts of many individuals and organizations, the woodlands were brought back from the brink through the passage of the Weeks Act in 1911. The authors wrote this book to document this successful conservation achievement by grassroots democracy. Also concerned about the continued health of these forests, they present case studies to highlight challenges that eastern forests are facing today. John T. Richardson Library, Call Number: 333.75110974 J664F
High Places: Cultural Geographies of Mountains, Ice and Science is not an adventure book about mountain climbing expeditions. This work is a collection of essays focused on high places that fit within the geographic scope of high altitude (mountains) or high latitude (polar regions). While the essays share the commonality of high winds, low temperatures, ice and snow, they address very different aspects of meaning making in these extreme physical environments. The essays are written from two geographical viewpoints: outsiders (researchers and explorers) and insiders (natives). An example of an outsider’s perspective was written by William L. Fox, who studies cognitive dissonance and landscapes. His essay addresses the difficulties of mapping and navigating in the Antarctic because of its isotropic landscape. The essay written by Gilles Rudaz, a scholar in environmental policy and planning, discusses the importance of incorporating the perspective of mountain dwellers into mountain research. John T. Richardson Library, Call Number: 304.2309143 H6382