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Most of us have spent more time indoors than usual over the past month, and even the most well-stocked readers might be scouring the shelves (or their online bookstore) for something new to read.
Something that will take your mind off the pandemic. Something that will help you forget the fact that you’ve been cooped up inside for weeks. Something that will take you outdoors, at least vicariously.
Luckily, there are plenty of options out there, and curling up with a good book on a cold spring evening can be an enjoyable way to pass the time, especially if you’ve already watched Tiger King. Here are a few quarantine-crushers to consider:
Meet Maine’s Paul Doiron
Have you heard of Maine’s own Paul Doiron? Or the main character in his series of novels, Mike Bowditch? If you haven’t, it’s time to get started.
Doiron, the former editor-in-chief at Down East magazine, is now a full-time novelist, and his protagonist, a game warden named Bowditch, has led readers through quite an array of wild times over the past decade. Bowditch regularly encounters poachers, murderers and assorted evil-doers, and often struggles to rein in his own counterproductive urges.
The series includes 10 novels — the 11th, “One Last Lie,” will be released in June — and that means that newcomers to Doiron’s work have a lot of catching up to do.
Pro tip: Enjoy the whole thrill ride in order. Start with the first book of the series, “The Poacher’s Son,” and carry on from there. Reading the stories out of order can certainly be done, but will result in an occasional spoiler ruining some of the fun.
Head out west
If you’re already a fan of Doiron, or like the pace of law enforcement thrillers, you might want to consider reading the Joe Pickett series of novels by author C.J. Box. This series consists of 20 books featuring a Wyoming game warden, Pickett, who isn’t dissimilar to Doiron’s protagonist.
In that vein, readers will quickly learn that Pickett will typically get to the bottom of a case (eventually), but will also make things difficult for himself along the way. Those conflicts, and how he overcomes them, provide readers with plenty of “oh no” moments, as well as infuse them with a rooting interest for Pickett as he tries to overcome the forces working against him.
Box is an expert scene-setter, and he describes Wyoming’s wild lands as if he’s a painter standing in front of a canvas.
Again, to avoid spoilers, starting at the beginning — “Open Season” is the first — and work your way through the others.
Closer to home
For those who like hyper-local titles, I’d point out that the BDN boasts a long line of published authors in the outdoor genre, and any would be worth your time to check out.
Bill Geagan’s “Nature I Loved” is often listed as a favorite by longtime BDN readers, and though it was published in 1952, it stands the test of time. Geagan writes about having moved to a rural pond and homesteading there as he tried to figure out what he wanted to do with his life. Geagan did so much work to simply provide food for himself — hunting, fishing, trapping and gardening — that just reading the descriptions might wear you out. Copies are available at second-hand book websites.
Bud Leavitt’s “Twelve Months in Maine,” published in 1977, is another local classic, as the longtime BDN executive sports editor shared some of his most famous stories from the Maine woods. Leavitt wrote outdoor columns six days a week and had plenty — 13,104, to be exact — to pick from when he assembled this book.
Tom Hennessey may be best known for his artistic skills with watercolors or a sketchbook, but the veteran outdoorsman was also an accomplished writer. His final book, “Leave Some for Seed,” was published by Islandport Press in 2014, and is a good example of his no-nonsense approach to the outdoors. It will take readers back to another era — the era before everyone started wearing blaze orange and camouflage, and when people with Hennessey’s down-home skill set were much more common.
The final suggestions for today: How about you look at the current BDN staff for a book or three? Aislinn Sarnacki is the author of three popular hiking books, including “Dog-Friendly Hikes in Maine,” which was released in 2019. Her hiking columns are among the BDN’s most popular regular offerings, and her readers often turn to her for advice and tips.
And finally, I might have written a book, too. If not for this pandemic, I’d probably have visited your hometown already during the publicity tour for “Evergreens,” which is a collection of some of my favorite BDN columns and features. For now, that tour will have to wait. But you don’t have to wait to grab a copy from your local bookseller. Just reach out via email or phone and they’ll be glad to help you get a copy.
Watch: Nirav Shah thanks everyday Mainers for staying inside