Mark Neuzil and Norman Sims, Canoes: A natural History in North America (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press) 2016.

Canoes A Natural History in North America
I suppose that the day will come when my children are sorting through what remains of my household and they come across my collection of beautiful books about canoes and canoeing and they will wonder what to do with the books. Perhaps they will fetch a few cents on the dollar at a used book store, or garner a bit on a rummage sale. They are treasures to me, that I suspect will not seem like treasures to many others. Nonetheless, I couldn't resist this gorgeous volume filled with photographs of beautiful canoes. I'm sure that the foreword by John McPhee also helped the publisher to sell a few copies of the book. Some of us read almost anything that appears with his name on it.

This really is not the definitive history of canoes in North America, but it does provide a few perspectives on the development and use of these beautiful and deeply spiritual craft over the centuries. Tracing the history of canoes from dugouts through bark and skin boats to modern craft of exotic materials provides for a gorgeous chapter of my favorites: wood and canvas canoes. It also provides a basis for the ending chapters about human-powered traveling and canoe tripping.

If you love canoes, you'll enjoy tis book. You might, like me, even end up owning a copy to sit next to some of the other spectacular books on the subject.

The book of joy

The Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams, The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World (New York: Avery) 2016.

The Book of Joy
The deep friendship between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu is an amazing connection when one considers the differences between their backgrounds and their religious commitments, but that friendship shines through this book. The two men really enjoy being together and they really enjoy deep talks about important spiritual matters. And they both have discovered joy in the midst of a world that has many reasons for fear and anger.

Abrams does a good job of telling the story of the time the two spent together on the occasion of the 80th birthday of the Dalai Lama. He allows them to speak for themselves by printing extended excerpts from their conversations. The book gives a deep insight into the nature of joy as a concept that is far deeper than merely the pleasure of the moment.

This is a book that is worth reading over and over again. It would be a good book for study groups and book clubs.

The Art of the Con

Gary Cornelius, The Art of the Con (Lanham, Maryland: American Correctional Association) 2001.

art of con
As Chaplain in a correctional institution, I have been interested in the training of our corrections officers and have been reading some of the books that they read. This book is, on one level, pretty basic. It contains some information about some of the things that offenders do once they are incarcerated and some of the situations that corrections officers need to be aware of and, in many cases, avoid falling into. The end of the book has some role playing, opportunities to consider scenarios and information for volunteers, all of which is helpful to me in my role as chaplain.

Although the information is all presented in lay terms and fairly simple writing, the book is well researched and presented by a qualified psychologist with a lot of practical input form people who are serving on the front lines of correctional institutions. I understand why our commander has made this required reading for those of us who serve in the setting.

No book can contain everything that a corrections officer needs to know and this book is really only an introduction. It does resort to some generalizations which are not fully applicable to juvenile corrections, which is where I serve much of the time. Also it does not present any information about cultural realities, many of which shape the picture of modern corrections institutions.

It is a valuable book for me as I pursue additional research and information in the field.