Books We've Read This Year, And Actually Liked!

Spectacular Yosemite was one of many fine books that reached our desks in 2011.

Despite the impending doom that pixels were expected to hand the printed word, we're happy to report that publishers are still turning out books, and more than a few that crossed our desks this year are worth your attention.

Here, in no particular order, is a look at the books we were happy to read.

Uncertain Path: A Search for the Future of National Parks

The challenges facing the National Park Service and its collections of parks are daunting, perhaps more so than ever before due to the implications of climate change. William Tweed examines those challenges in a new book, Uncertain Path: A Search for the Future of National Parks.

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The National Parks, Our American Landscape

If the cover photo of The National Parks, Our American Landscape, doesn't encourage you to call in sick and head into the national parks, well, perhaps one of the hundreds of other images inside this book will.

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The Case of the Indian Trader: Billy Malone and the National Park Service Investigation At Hubbell Trading Post

In The Case of the Indian Trader, author Paul Berkowitz peels back the luminous outer skin of the National Park Service to reveal a dark and dysfunctional culture, one that by his accounts at times has placed itself above the law.

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My First Summer in The Sierra

A century after John Muir published "My First Summer in the Sierra," a 100th anniversary edition of the book has been released, one with striking photography.

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Permanent Vacation: Twenty Writers on Work and Life in Our National Parks

Millions of people visit our national parks each year, and some never leave. See iconic landscapes through the eyes of bed makers, bridge builders, rangers, and wranglers. Rip through rapids, disappear inside canyons, and witness personal transformations from petrified forest to permafrost. Learn what it's like to ditch the mainstream and make a life in our nation's best idea.

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Hiking North Carolina's Blue Ridge Heritage

In Hiking North Carolina's Blue Ridge Heritage, Danny Bernstein comes to the task with a keen eye for details in general, but a specific eye for wildflowers.

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Pilgrims of the Vertical: Yosemite Rock Climbers & Nature At Risk

For anyone who has spent just a few days in Yosemite National Park, know that rock climbing and rock climbers are an important part of the history of this legendary park. It literally goes back to the Second Great Age of Discovery (if not further) when geologists Clarence King and Josiah Whitney scrambled from one Sierra peak to the next in search of a knowable “earth age.”

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Fire Season: Field Notes From a Wilderness Lookout

Author Phillip Conners left a job with the Wall Street Journal to take up summer residence in a fire tower perched atop Apache Peak in the Gila National Forest’s Aldo Leopold Wilderness Area.

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The Outer Banks

Though written more than two decades ago, this simply yet descriptively named book by Anthony Bailey could just as easily have been written last year, for many of the issues he broaches -- storms, fishing, and off-road vehicles -- remain today.

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Spectacular Yosemite

As big and expansive as Yosemite National Park is, there should be a rule somewhere stating that any book that captures its wonders in photographs must be large enough to take up most of your coffee table.

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Best Easy Day Hikes, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Not a backcountry trail warrior? Don't have more than a morning or afternoon to take a hike? Then Best Easy Day Hikes, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is for you.

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Yosemite & The Southern Sierra Nevada

There are times when one national park jaunt could entail several national parks, and so you think you'll need several guidebooks to the parks on your itinerary. Well, if you're heading to the High Sierra parks of Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon, there's just one book you really need.

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The Birth of the National Park Service: The Founding Years, 1913-1933

This is a book I wish I had read many years ago. Told by Horace M. Albright not long before his death, it’s a recounting of the establishment years of the National Park Service told by one of the two men who literally created it and rightfully became legends in its history.

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Hope Is The Thing With Feathers, A Personal Chronicle Of Vanished Birds

Christopher Cokinos, an award-winning writer, poet, and English professor at Utah State University, has gathered up six long-lost bird species and taken a longing look at them from the perspective of personal loss for their absence in the skies above our heads.

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Trains of Discovery: Railroads And the Legacy of Our National Parks

For years I've been searching for railroad memorabilia tied to the national parks: Posters, luggage stickers, calendars, even timetables from the Northern Pacific, Great Northern Railway, Southern Pacific, Union Pacific.

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Death Valley Photographer's Guide: Where and How To Get The Best Shots

There are some obvious photo opportunities in Death Valley National Park. Everyone wants a shot from Badwater, the lowest point in the Northern Hemisphere. And Artist's Palette is a given. But then what? Well, Dan Suzio has some suggestions for you.

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The Ledge, An Adventure Story of Friends and Survival On Mount Rainier

Just hours from their car, promise of a hot shower, cold beers, and soft beds, Jim Davidson and Mike Price literally plunged into a nightmare that left one of them dead and the other struggling to understand why his friend died and figure out how he would save himself.

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A Photographer's Path, Images Of National Parks Near The Nation's Capital

Natural beauty in the National Park System is not harbored solely in the Rocky Mountains, the High Sierra, or the Cascades. Drift through the pages of a new book that revolves around the nation's capital and you'll be treated to snow drifts and Swallowtail butterflies in perhaps the most unexpected places.

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Pestilence and Persistence: Yosemite Indian Demography and Culture in Colonial California

Kathleen Hull’s Pestilence and Persistence: Yosemite Indian Demography and Culture in Colonial California, is, above all, a timely book, if not a necessary book. Timely in the sense that current relations between Yosemite Indians and park administrators are finally showing signs of mutual accommodate after decades of mistrust.

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The Grand Canyon Reader

In a wonderful new book, Lance Newman has compiled an outdoor literary fan's best's best of short stories, essays, and poetry regaling the Grand Canyon. Within the covers you'll find Ed Abbey, John McPhee, Terry Tempest Williams, Barry Lopez and more.

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Camping and Woodcraft

Horace Kephart has been called the John Muir of the East and the savior of the Smokies. Though schooled as a librarian, he became the consummate outdoorsman while spending years in the Smokies, which he promoted for a national park.

Those years in the woods taught Kephart much, and he, in turn, passed that education on in the form of a book, Camping and Woodcraft.

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Mark of the Grizzly

Bear attacks horrify us, and yet they also, in a morbid way, fascinate many. They're evidence that even in today's modern world tragic confrontations with nature do occur and, in the case of bears, demonstrate that man is not always the apex predator.

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Encounters With the Archdruid

Though written some 40 years ago, Encounters with the Archdruid still carries valuable lessons for us to consider today.

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