A voice and song that now reminds me of cloudy beaches, strawberries, string lights, candles, nervous shivering, and brisk spring air. I did some camping at Crystal Cove State Park this week. I’ve never fallen asleep to the soothing crashing of distant ocean waves—a peaceful and magical experience. I still haven’t quite processed that I live in a place where it is possible to drive less than 20 minutes to a cliffside campsite overlooking the Pacific Ocean, but I’m trying to make the most of it.
A lovely little collection of short stories that explores various themes of love and loss. They are very much “slice of life” stories. It’s hard to understand why he chooses to writes about the moments he does, because the stories don’t really go anywhere, but he was able to distill out very particular emotions. Don’t read it for plot, read it for authenticity of subtle human experiences.
I think I’ll have to revisit this one at some point because it’s a fairly deep dive into a period of history/civilization that I know embarrassingly little about. I think it would fit well with On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder in examining the fall of societies. Excellent storytelling about the rise towards the fall of the Roman republic, and I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in history and politics.
Basically me catching up on a book I should’ve read in high school. A fascinating—if not disturbing—dystopian analysis on the meaning of “happiness” and pleasure.
Solnit is quickly becoming on of my favorite authors. I’m inspired by her ability to craft compelling essays that weave themes of nature, politics, hope, and cultural analysis with beautiful prose. I admire her ability to draw out nuance in complex situations and to maintain optimism even when discussing the most desperate situations. This collection is from 1998, and I’m looking forward to reading The Faraway Nearby and A Field Guide to Getting Lost in the upcoming months.
“The stars we are given. The constellations we make. That is to say, stars exist in the cosmos, but constellations are the imaginary lines we draw between them, the readings we give the sky, the stories we tell.”
“Places matter. Their rules, their scale, their design include or exclude civil society, pedestrianism, equality, diversity (economic and otherwise), understanding of where water comes from and garbage goes, consumption or conservation. They map our lives.”
“If gold has been prized because it is the most inert element, changeless and incorruptible, water is prized for the opposite reason -- its fluidity, mobility, changeability that make it a necessity and a metaphor for life itself. To value gold over water is to value economy over ecology, that which can be locked up over that which connects all things.”
I didn’t expect to enjoy a book about the ends of the world so much, but Peter Brannen writes with infectious enthusiasm, and it’s quite difficult not to get drawn in. It reads more like an exciting mystery novel than a book outlining the demise of humankind. I would recommend this to anyone who is concerned about the current state of the planet. I found the parallels between our environmental problems and those of past geologic eras enlightening, frightening, and comforting. It would be easy to fall into an existential crisis after reading a book like this, but I thought it was helpful in contextualizing time and the importance of our actions and decisions on earth. Probably my favorite natural history book that I’ve read—the most similar book I’ve attempted to read was The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert, which I could not finish due to the slow pacing.
“That our age is thought to be less epic than those worlds on offer at natural history museums is only an illusion.”