Fall has always been one of those busy times in the publishing world. Numerous books arrive to herald the end of the year, when publishers hope those books become gifts or turn into companions for those long winter nights.
Among the titles that have arrived on our desks in the past few months are several about Grand Canyon. The great natural wonder has always attracted publishers and writers, and often books on the Canyon turn into beloved keepsake editions.
Here are a few that we have checked out, and each provides its own perspective and approach to the fabled landscape.
“Grand Canyon: A History of a Natural Wonder and National Park” by Don Lago. Local author and historian Don Lago has created a sturdy and thoughtful history on Grand Canyon with his latest book, published by University of Nevada Press. Lago mixes various contexts and insights — along with some humor — to probe the canyon’s history.
He moves through the various human interactions with the natural wonder and also explores the big names such as Teddy Roosevelt, John Muir and Aldo Leopold. He also unearths some interesting tales about canyon characters that include William Wallace Bass and Robert Stanton. Lago also finds a few hidden gems from the gorge’s history that will delight and surprise.
“The Rapids and the Roar: A Boating History of the Colorado River and Grand Canyon” by Gaylord Staveley. It’s always fascinating to get a history book from someone who has lived a good part of that history, and that’s a big draw for Gaylord Staveley’s “The Rapids and the Roar” (Fretwater Press). Staveley first crossed paths with the Colorado River in 1956. Not soon after, he partnered with river legend Norman Nevills to operate a whitewater boating company.
This would lead to Staveley being involved with the Grand Canyon commercial boating company for more than 50 years. This allows him to write large portions of the book in first-person, as he accounts the big moments and seismic shifts in the river-running realm. The book also features many photos and illustrations.
“Jiggles, Rolf, and the Remarkable Finale to Frank Stone’s Career” by Wendell Duffield. For many years, Wendell “Duff” Duffield was a geologist on the scene in Flagstaff. He penned a local science classic with “Volcanoes of Northern Arizona,” but also has been known to have fun with fiction through such books as “When Pele Stirs” (about a pending Hawaiian eruption) and a speculative novel called “Yucca Mountain Dirty Bomb.”
Duffield jumps down that hypothetical rabbit hole again with his new novel “Jiggles, Rolf, and the Remarkable Finale to Frank Stone’s Career” (iUniverse). It tells the story of a geologist who joins a seismologist to chase down a potential eruption that looks to spill lava down into the Grand Canyon and create a dam (that’s where Lava Falls comes from, anyway). Like his previous books, Duffield turns this one into a romp and has a lot of fun along the way.
“Grand Reflections.” There is a voluminous number of Grand Canyon coffee table books that celebrate the wonders of the famous national park. It’s hard to sort all of them out, but the Grand Canyon Association has put out a nice one this year called “Grand Reflections.”
This take on Grand Canyon images and quotes as inspiration has a couple of notable things going for it. First, it’s at nine-and-a-half inches by six-inches, making it a portable coffee table book of sorts. It’s also priced at $16.95, making it an affordable gift.
The quotes are heavily nature inspired, but also include specific ones on the Grand Canyon, such as Roosevelt’s famous “Leave it as it is” statement on the great gorge. We’ll leave our reviews with one quote from the book by Wallace Stegner: “We simply need that wild country available to us … For it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope.”