Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Arizona Landmarks

After my last morning reading program book, Nelson, was complete I decided to depart from my normal biography format and tackle something different. I chose a "coffee table" book that we've had for years, Arizona Landmarks by James E. Cook. By "coffee table" book, I mean those large oversized books that are mostly filled with beautiful pictures and perfect for thumbing through when you visit a friend's house. And they usually look good sitting there on the table. It is my guess that these are usually decorative books only and very few get read or even looked through. And that's a shame. Arizona Landmarks is just such a book and, in fact, when I looked at the inside of the front cover I noticed I had annotated it when we first purchased the book. It was during a trip to Arizona in June 1990. In 19 years I had not read that book and truth be told, we have quite a few more like them on the shelf although we generally don't buy them anymore.

This book is absolutely gorgeous. It was produced by the "Arizona Highways" magazine people and uses photos from their long history as well as current photos. The contrast is uniquely cool. There is also a fair amount of text in here as well, serving to tell some of the history of the various regions of the state as well as the geographic history of the land itself. The book is divided into several major sections including "deserts", "canyons", "mountains", and "plateaus." Now I have traveled in Arizona on quite a few occassions, especially when I was a boy. I remember seeing such natural beauty as the Painted Desert, Salt River Canyon, Petrified Forest, and of course the Grand Canyon. But most of my memories were of long ago and to tell the truth, were mostly views from the highway. This book, especially the pictures within that defy the written word serve only to increase my desire to return to Arizona. That's what a good "coffee table" book should do.

Yesterday I forgot to report on the latest short story in the Stephen King collection, Skeleton Crew so I'll do that here. "Cain Rising" is a fairly short entry and doesn't usually get mentioned in the top 5 or so stories from this collection. That may be because the story does not deal with any kind of supernatural horror but rather the very real horror experienced in our world from time to time when a student goes on a shooting spree on campus. This story is very well written but absolutely disturbing because it is so real. So many horror stories have a buffer of sorts between what happens in the story and what we know to be reality. After all most of us are pretty sure vampires don't exist, there is no boogeyman in the fog, nor have aliens taken over the government (although that last I haven't been too sure about for the past 20 years or so). But here, everything is absolutely plausible...and thus horrifying. I continue to be impressed with this collection.

1 comment:

  1. This book is really spectacular. I'm surprised you haven't read it for nearly twenty years. You should search for some new editions. Arizona has changed a lot, since you have last been there. It will be great if you have the chance to visit it soon. Regards!


Top 10 Books in no particular order (Well Known Authors)

  • "The Stand" by Stephen King
  • "Kane and Able" by Jeffrey Archer
  • "The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara
  • "The Dark Elf Trilogy" by RA Salvatore
  • "Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss
  • "River God" by Wilbur Smith
  • "Mortalis" by RA Salvatore
  • "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card
  • "Centennial" by James A Michener
  • "The Repairman Jack" series by F. Paul Wilson

Top Books/ Series in no particular order (Lesser Known Authors)

  • "The Sculpter" by Gregory Funaro
  • "Power Down" by Ben Coes
  • "Revolution at Sea Saga" by James L. Nelson
  • "Black Rain" by Graham Brown
  • "Top Producer" by Norb Vonnegut
  • "Prairie" by Anna Lee Waldo
  • "The Wild Blue" by W. Boyne & S Thompson
  • "Unsolicited" series by Julie Kaewert
  • "Freedom" by William Safire