Sunday, July 31, 2011

12 Books in 12 Months: A Book about or Set in Your Favorite Place

Book: The Soul of Vermont
Author: Richard W. Brown
Image via

There's no place like home. I have been privileged to visit truly magical places in my life: Kamakura, Japan; Picton, New Zealand and Boracay, Philippines among others. I suppose I could have been more exotic in my imagination and found books set in those locales. Yet, ten years ago, we figured we could live anywhere in the world and we chose Vermont. We lived in Burlington for three years before we bought our house in the woods. On one return trip after two weeks away, my eyes actually watered at the first sight of Mt. Mansfied, a sign we were close to home. I've never felt that way about any other place I've lived. I never want to move again.

The DC area was a fun place to grow up, having access to such a beautiful and extraordinary city. Even so, I envy my daughter for the childhood she has here. On a winter's night, she can look out her bedroom window and see a family of deer passing through the virgin snow, bathed only in moonlight. We buy our maple syrup from the family of one of her school friends. The frogs at our ponds can get pretty noisy in the spring but I'll take them over the traffic noises of suburban rush hour anytime.

The Soul of Vermont elegantly captures the place I love. We live in the northwestern corner of the state and most of Brown's photos are of the northeast. But there are a few from our area as well. Each chapter is devoted to a season and Brown wrote lovely accompanying essays on the experience of each time of year. In general, I am skeptical of coffee table books as I feel they are overpriced and I can't help wondering how many people actually read them except to admire the pictures. I do realize that photographers need to make a living, too, and I have developed a renewed interest in their art over the past few months. Brown has certainly created a beautiful book.

I guess if anyone's going to write a book about our living room couch, I'll have to do it myself.


My Wife was a little surprised that I was inclined to post again so soon. I guess the title of the challenge does seem to imply that one only posts once a month. But I didn't really see it that way. My plan, at least for myself, was to post the books as I finish them. I've done my best to allow for personal interpretation of the rules. After all, I'm not the blog police - just trying to plant an idea. If others are inclined to post just once a month, have at it.

For my own reading, I feel I need to take care of as many of these as I can before the school year begins. I'm also trying to read the shorter ones first so I don't feel crunched for time when I tackle the longer ones.


I hope that you, too, will join the 12 Books in 12 Months challenge. Details are here.

If you'd care to join the challenge, please let me know by commenting below or e-mailing me at Also, please tell me how and where I can follow your posts. Don't be shy about suggesting other categories, either. It is my intention to compile a new list of 12 once this one is completed. My only parameter is that no one should have to buy anything in order to complete the challenge - nothing beyond a library card required.

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