Bret James Stewart's Reviews > Southern Appalachian Celebration: In Praise of Ancient Mountains, Old-Growth Forests, and Wilderness

Southern Appalachian Celebration by James  Valentine
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it was amazing

Since I skimmed through it at the bookstore, I knew I was going to like this book. I bought it, got it home, and read through it in a couple of days, though I did comb through the pictures a bit longer and sporadically thereafter. This is a coffee table book, and welcome addition to anyone's home, whether they put it on the coffee table or not.

James Valentine took the pictures, and Chris Bolgiano (a woman) wrote the text. This is a great team. The book is thematic, with chapters entitled Thinking Biodiversity, Thinking Like a Mountain, Thinking Like a Meadow/Bald, Thinking Like a Wildflower, Thinking Like a Forest, Thinking Like a Waterway, and Thinking Like a Sacred Place. These chapters keep the book organized and allow the reader to move to the portion he wants to read/look at. This is a great dreaming book, with many of the photos misty, hazy, unusually lit or coloured, and so on. This sparks a creative approach to considering the pictures and the text. This is a book to savour, a book to read in the early morning light spilling through your window to get your day started with art, a book to drink tea over in the evening and add some late beauty to your day before lying down to dream, a book to muse over anytime when you need to strengthen your tie to nature as it is supposed to be.

This book is not heavily scholarly, nor is it meant to be. It is more of a spiritual journey through the iconic Southern Appalachians. The breadth of the topics provides a well-rounded and inclusive look at some of the most ravishing country God made. I feel blessed everyday to be able to look out my window and see the grandeur of this country. Many people are not so blessed and have to drive hundreds or thousands of miles to see this place I call home.

Valentine takes wonderful pictures. Every single picture could be a post card or on a calendar. Bolgiano's text is the icing on the cake, incorporating the contemplative in a tangible and meaningful way. Regarding spring wildflowers, she says, "Now! Cry the spring ephemerals. Rejoice!" (p. 67). If I were to put together a similar book, this would be the pair I'd get to do it.

Do yourself a favour and buy this book. It will give you something to mull over in the evenings and inspire you to get out into nature and see the places they have chosen to include in this work of art. Valentine's pastel, slightly unfocused photo of pink laurel (rhododendron) blooms nestled among tree roots at Craggy Gardens on the Blue Ridge Parkway alone is worth the price.

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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
November 21, 2013 – Shelved

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