Curl up by the fire with these good books

Posted on 21 January 2016

Whether for an avid fisherman or an armchair adventurer, there's a wide variety of outdoor writing that makes a welcome addition to anyone's bookshelf.

A sampling recommended by local authorities:

Bill Archie, Lakestream Fly Fishing Shop • "Trout Bum; Sex, Death and Fly-Fishing," "Another Lousy Day in Paradise" or any of several other books by John Gierach — "These are enjoyable stories about the outdoors," both for the fly-fishing fanatic and the casual reader, Archie said. "You can't write humorously and well about fly-fishing unless you've been out there," and Gierach has.

• "The Fly Tier's Benchside Reference" by Ted Leeson and Jim Schollmeyer — The standard reference book for fly-tiers. It doesn't discuss how to tie specific flies, but tells people how to use various techniques. Dan Casey, Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks • "A Sand County Almanac" by Aldo Leopold — "Any list of outdoor books should have this on it," Casey said. "It's a classic by the father of wildlife biology."

• "Tales of a Low-Rent Birder" by Pete Dunne — An enjoyable book for birders or casual readers, Casey said. The author works at Cape May Bird Observatory.

• "A Field Guide to Advanced Birding" by Kenn Kaufman — A handbook to help experienced birders. Each chapter covers a group of difficult-to-identify birds, or similar-looking birds. "This is the textbook I use in my Advanced Birding class at the college," Casey said.

• "Shorebirds of the Pacific Northwest" by Dennis Paulson — A more specific field guide that covers all the shorebirds found in Montana, as well as most of the shorebirds that can be found in the rest of the country. Some other recommendations for gift books:

• "Montanans' Fishing Guide, Vol. 1 and 2" by Dick Konizeski — A handy book, especially for newcomers. Discusses fishing opportunities for every stream, river and lake in the state, with some topographic and hydrographic maps included. Volume 1 covers western Montana; volume 2 covers east of the divide.

• "Radical Elk Hunting" by Mike Lapinski — Has everything you want to know about hunting elk with a bow. The author lives in St. Regis, so the book pertains to hunting elk in western Montana.

• "Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape" by Barry Lopez — Based on 15 trips the author made to the Arctic over a five year period. Covers the natural history of the area, including the human inhabitants, narwhals, beluga whales, polar bears and musk oxen.

• "The Measure of the Mountain: Beauty and Terror on Mount Rainier" by Bruce Barcott — Provides a profile of North America's largest volcano, including discussions of its geology and of the people who work and play on and around the mountain.

• "Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place" by Terry Tempest Williams — Describes the changes in bird life at wildlife sanctuaries along the Great Salt Lake in Utah as water levels rose during the wet years in the 1980s, with parallel reflections on the death of the author's mother and grandmother from cancer.

• "Spring Creek" by Nick Lyons — Described by one reviewer as "an eloquent meditation on one man's pursuit of his passion," this book recounts the author's monthlong fly-fishing vacation at an idyllic trout stream in the Rocky Mountains. It's a beautifully written book that will make you want to take up fly-fishing.

• "The Control of Nature" by John McPhee — Three separate stories about man's efforts to keep nature in check, including the flood-control dams along the Mississippi River, and an effort to save a harbor in Iceland by deflecting a lava flow.

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