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Suggested Additional Readings
“Sense of Place” Crowd-sourced Books
Back in February, the HFMSG 2019 Planning Team crowd-sourced the UUMA Colleagues FB group for “books in which the author deeply describes a place, its environment and social history— akin to (but more recent than) Kathleen Norris’ “Dakota: A Spiritual Geography” (1993). Preference for places that aren’t rural.” Edited later to request non-fiction only, but we share all the replies here, with any comments provided, non-fiction with an asterisk:
*Nature's Calling: A Grace of Place byGail Collins-Ranadive, our UU colleague in interim ministry--reflections on the varied, scattered American places in which she’s served.
Kindred by Octavia Butler`
CentennialbyJames A. Michener I loved this book about Colorado that blended geography and history seamlessly with historical fiction. The part about the sand creek massacre made me weep.
*Refuge by Terry Tempest Williams
*Never A City So Real by Alex Kotlowitz about Chicago. Wonderful book.
*My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor -- the first part describes the South Bronx. Even if it doesn't fit the bill, it's a good book.
*Apocalyptic Planet by Craig Childs describes several places reflectively and insightfully with personal amazing descriptions with historical perspective and natural impact/change. A very human readable take on global climate change. Recommended enthusiastically by my 19 and 14 year old granddaughters. They are right!
Standing in the Light by Sharman Apt Russell - it's about pantheism but also about her home in New Mexico (rural).
The Path by Chet Raymo is about the history and ecology of the path he walked to work at Stonehill College in North Easton, MA (south of Boston).
Orion Magazine - lots of essays about nature, culture and place, and they have an increasing focus on urban environments and diverse voices.
Terry Tempest Williams' Refuge, everything by her and by Ellen Maloy, Edward Abbey, Stephen Trimble.
*WANDERING HOME: A Long Walk Across America's Most Hopeful Landscape: Vermont's Champlain Valley and New York's Adirondacks by Bill McKinnen. It is not long. It is direct and really quite beautiful.
*PrairyErth by William Least Heat-Moon, a deep exploration of one county in Kansas. Long, and rural.
*Ceremonial Time by John Hanson Mitchell. And, yes, Terry Tempest Williams.
*Mapping Decline: St. Louis and the Fate of the American City. As you might guess, it's not cheerful reading, but it does closely describe place and history.
I know you said nonfiction but Wendell Berry has this theme strongly in his great fiction and poetry as well as his essays. A strong advocate for putting down roots and spiritual investment in place. Treasuring/revering and caring for it and each other.
*Scott Russell Sanders...really anything, he's so grounded in place. But especially Staying Put or Secrets of the Universe. Also Ellen Meloy's *The Last Cheater's Waltz and Scott Thybony's *Burntwaterare both astonishing explorations of the southwest, which is my homeland so I collect people who can figure out how to describe it.
Yi-Fu Tuan's *Topophilia, which looks at how and why we connect to specific places
Barbara Kingsolver's *Animal, Vegetable, Miracle or her new book Flight Behavior And her most recent novel Unsheltered.
Here’s a few with a strong sense of place that I read last year: Margaret Atwood’s trilogy of Oryx and Crake. (Dystopia). Or *Wild by Cheryl Strayed. The Avenue of Mysteries by John Irving. *The Lonely City: The art of being alone by Olivia Laing.
*Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World by Alan Weisman is a favorite of mine. About an ecovillage in Colombia, if sustainability and climate change are on your mind...
Cory Booker's *Unitedhas vivid descriptions of place and social history of urban area, esp. Newark.
*John McPhee on the New Jersey pine barrens.