Friday, July 3, 2015

Lisa-Marie's Green Summer Reading List

Me at the beach :) 
Being in a PhD program has limited my reading of dense novels. When I want a break from scholarly reading, I find myself gravitating towards children's books, science fiction, or thrillers. I always enjoyed these genres, but even moreso now that I am in my program. Children's books bring me back to a time when I was carefree. Often those books from my childhood  were required school reading and now as an adult, I have a deeper understanding of these books. Science fiction taps into my creative and imaginative side. All day I deal with empirical papers and sometimes, it is fun to fantasize about a world where humans have super powers. As a child, I wanted to be a detective. When my friends and siblings would play games, I was either the judge or the detective, sometimes even both. It was always fun and this genre always proves to be an enjoyable read.

My  summer beach reading list is a reflection of my tastes in books and my interpretation of green and sustainability. Hopefully some of you share my love for science fiction, children's books, and thrillers. Some of these books I have read in the past and others I am currently reading.

The Pelican Brief by John Grisham

The Pelican Brief is a legal thriller about two Supreme Court justices who are murdered and a law student who suspects they were killed because of a court case on oil drilling in an area with a endangered species.

The Appeal by John Grisham

This is book is about a corporation that knowingly let pollutants enter the water supply of a town. A stockholder decides to take things into his own hands and tries to get a court decision overturned.

Song of Trees by Mildred D. Taylor

Originally I was going to add my all-time favorite book - Roll of Thunder Hear my Cry - to this list, but I decided that I could find a Mildred D. Taylor Book that addresses both social justice and the environment. This novella is part of the Logan Family series, which takes place in 1930s rural Mississippi. The Logan family has the choice of selling their land for a better life.  Cassie Logan, wants to save the trees and thinks they hold more value than monetary. Trees are my favorite part of nature and this novella touches not only on their practical value, but their symbolic value.

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

Another story dealing with trees. I really love trees and nature, so this might be a common theme in my list. This book touches on the economic side of environmentalism. It is about corporations who take over the environment to supply demand for products. This story is about a boy cares enough about saving the trees.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

This is a classic book about the relationship between a young boy and a tree (surprise). The entire book follows the boy and the tree as they age and illustrates the giving (or taking) relationship between the two.

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Annihilation is book one of a series about an uninhabited place called Area X this is a place where nature has taken over. A team sets out to find out about the mysterious events that occur when people enter Area X.

Shipbreaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

This book is about the ecological decline of the planet and the humans  left trying to survive. The book mostly centers around a teenager and an individual he saves from a shipwreck.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Voyageurs National Park

Today I continue my series highlighting interesting open access Flickr photos of all 59 U.S. National Parks. In this post we go to Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota. 

I'll run through all 59 National Parks in alphabetical order. If you have any photos that you would like to share from any national park that I could post, please send them along. Following the photos, you'll find links to previous On the Brink posts of the National Parks. Check them out to see the beauty of the U.S. National Parks as captured by visitors.

Click for photo credit.
Click for photo credit.
Click for photo credit.
Click for photo credit.
Click for photo credit.
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Mammoth Cave National Park
Mesa Verde National Park
Mount Rainier National Park
North Cascades National Park
Olympic National Park

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Best Thing You Will See Online July 1, 2015

Everyone loves a beach party....

Ron Kerbo's Green Summer Reading

Photo by Dale Pate.
Some of the On the Brink readers are taking me up on my request to send me their recommended green summer reading list. Since I posted my list here, I received recommendations from Hofstra Special Collections Dean Geri Solomon here and Ron Kerbo below. For those of you who don't know Ron, he recently retired from the National Park Service where he was one of the strong advocates for excellence in management of our nation's caves and karst landscapes. He received the Department of Interior's second highest honor, the Meritorious Service Award. Ron is also a noted author and photographer and one of my favorite people.

I really like Ron's list and can't wait to pick up the ones I haven't read.

If you would like to send me your list of 6-8 recommended summer books with a green theme, please send them along with a photograph of yourself to

Ron's list is below.

1.     Anything by Carl Hiaasen. One of the best for having a very clear "green" message is Lucky You. Hiaasen's characters are at least as wacky as those of Tim Dorsey.
2.      Fluke: Or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings by Christopher Moore. Moore's books will make you laugh out loud in a crowd and people will move away from you.
3.      The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey a classic in the "green" before it was cool genre.
4.      Tony Hillerman's Leaphorn and Chee Navajo detective novels starting with The Blessing Way" and read them in order to the last one (a total of 18 novels). They are a great introduction to the wonderful world of the "Four Corners" in the southwestern U.S.
5.      Basin and Range by John McPhee. More serious than the others here listed but worth a read.
6.      Big Trouble by Dave Barry. Not sure why Florida seems to be a hot bed for crazy characters and people who write about them but Barry like Hiaasen and Dorsey has them nailed in his novels.
7.      Desert Notes: Reflections in the Eye of a Raven by Barry Lopez. Another in the more serious side of things but a great read. I met Mr. Lopez on a flight to Oregon and he gave me his home 'phone number but I didn't call him and he didn't tell me he was Barry Lopez. So we stayed even.
8.    Touch the Earth : A Self Portrait of Indian Existence by T. C. McLuhan. This is the book that turned my heart toward the earth.

What are you waiting for? Send in your summer beach reading list while the tide is out.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Green Summer Reading from Hofstra Library Special Collection Dean

Hofstra's own Geri Solomon, who is the Assistant Dean of Special
Collections in the Library and the University Archivist, came up with today's
list of summer reading. What is on your list?
After I published my recommended summer beach reading, I challenged my friends at Hofstra University Special Collections to come up with their green summer reading list. The head of the Department, Geri Solomon, sent along her list below. It has some great titles I want to read and I have always learned that librarians always know the best books.

 If you want to share your recommended green summer reading collections, send them along and I'll feature you and your list. Make sure you send in a photo along with the list so we all know what you look like. Mail the list and photo to

Dean Solomon's list:

1)      The Harder they Come, by T.C. Boyle – he writes mostly about California and its struggles with the man versus environment theme. This one is based partially on a true story of a murderer who thinks of himself as a mountain man.
2)      Drop City –by T.C. Boyle – about a bunch of hippies who decide to move to Alaska and the struggles they have there.
3)      Flight Behavior – by Barbara Kingsolver – another author who writes a cautionary tale about the impact of environment on migratory monarch butterflies.
4)      The Lacuna – by Barbara Kingsolver – a story of artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo as well as Mexico in the 30’s and 40’s a wonderful political and artistic mix of environment, personalities and history.
5)      Remarkable Creatures – by Tracy Chevalier – an historical novel that is set on the coast of England and uncover a fossilized skull of an animal.
6)      The Forest Lover – by Susan Vreeland – a wonderful book about a painter that ventures to British Columbia and discovers native art.

Don't be shy! Send your summer reading lists with a photo to get featured on the blog!

Best Thing You Will See Online June 30, 2015

Electric airplane from Airbus.

It's Not Easy Flying Green

Click for photo credit.
One of the vexing issues with trying to reduce individual carbon consumption for someone like me is finding ways to deal with carbon costs of flying. I have done quite well with my gasoline consumption since we got an electric car and I do what I can do in other areas of my life. But for someone like me who travels by air quite a bit, the only option I have is to purchase carbon credits to offset the carbon costs of our flying.

However, there is hope.

Today in the New York Times, reporters Jad Mouawad and Diane Cardwell write about the efforts of United Airlines to utilize biofuels in their fleet. Right now, the amount of biofuel as a percent of their total is only about 0.2% but it is hoped that that number will increase with time.

Regardless of what one thinks about biofuels from a sustainability standpoint, this does mark the early stages of a trend of airlines looking for alternatives to traditional fuels. Right now, airline travel has the highest per person carbon cost by mile of any form of transportation. The company that United is working with creates fuels from municipal waste.

If one digs deeper, one can find that there is a tremendous movement in electric airplane technology. An all electric two seat personal airplane built by airbus was recently demonstrated at the Paris Airshow.  Plus, the Solar Impulse all solar airplane is about to complete the first around the world solar aircraft flight.  Change is coming.....