Dog Days of Summer Reading List

By Brett
It's a tale as old as time:  we love spending time outside in the summer, but need to get away from the heat. 

Summer spent on the cobblestone shoreline of the North Shore can be a real treat as an escape from the cities. Whether you use Lake Superior as a natural air conditioner on a  sunny day, or need to take shelter from pop up rain storm, there are several ways for Odyssey Resorts guests to beat the heat as we stretch out into the dog days of summer.

One of our favorites ways to spend downtime is by turning the page of a good book. Speaking of books and the dog days of summer, we've compiled a few recommendations that we have enjoyed this season which just so happen to feature some furry canine companions.
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For a LIttle While

Rick Bass

For a Little While is the definitive collection of short stories by one of the genre’s best writers Rick Bass. Published in 2016, this collection contains 25 short stories, new and old, spanning Bass’ career. Readers who delight in nature will enjoy stories like “The Canoeists”, which melds memories of a couple’s romantic trips filled with stunning sensory imagery, like fireflies lining the banks of the river or clinging to the canoe as if they are illuminating the route just for the couple. There are brief outbursts from the sounds of nature as well,  with descriptions of owls hooting couple with flashing "heat lightning, like a pulse or an echo from the day’s troubles” which carries the story along as the couple winds downstream—the scenes melting and dissolving into one  another.

Other readers will find enjoyment in the magical realism of “The Hermit’s Story,” which will have them looking back upon previous winters themselves. In this story, dog trainer Ann, recounts her unexpected trek the beneath the surface of a frozen lake, having been emptied of the water underneath the top sheet of ice. Ann descends with her dogs and another fellow dog trainer, passing into an almost magical realm beneath the blue ice. Again, Bass provides stunning images and sounds for readers to feast upon as his characters and dogs trek underneath the sea of ice groaning above them. When they build a fire from cattails, small pockets of swamp gas explode in brilliant flashes. The memory of this experience, what it might have been like for the dogs and other wildlife which has found it's way beneath. The story hints at the magic which nature can contain—the special gift of grace it can offer, leading it to seem like something out of a winter fairy tale

Rick Bass, author and activist, was born and raised in Texas, worked as a petroleum geologist in Mississippi, and has lived in Montana’s Yaak Valley for almost thirty years. He is a novelist, short story writer, as well as author of several non-fiction titles such as Colter: The True Story of the Best Dog I Ever Had and The Traveling Feast: On the Road with America’s Finest Writers. An audio collaboration between Bass and the band Stellarondo featuring the short story, "The Canoeists" mentioned above can be sampled here.

Diary of a Young Naturalist

Dara McAnulty

“The outpourings on these pages express my connection to wildlife, try to explain the way I see the world, and describe how we weather the storms as a family” Dara McAnulty explains in Diary of a Young Naturalist.  He explores his connection to his home in Ireland and nature. All the while he balances school, friends, family (four of the five whom are neurodivergent), his dog Rosie who is a “constant companion”, and his commitment to campaigning as a figure in the youth climate activist movement. Together, McAnulty's journal entries form a memoir, of a year in his life, revealing the magic of the natural world and giving it the attention it deserves.

The diary oscillates from the high notes that nature hits, whether observing tear-shaped tadpoles or other microscopic critters seemingly brewed to life as if in a magic cauldron or “potion pot,” as he calls it or weathering the reverberating lows of a bully troubling McAnulty. In the rhythms of McAnulty’s life, these beats butt up against his feelings. His writes his observations of his own body physically reacting, with his heart palpitating in a tense situations, his brain disconnecting from over-stimulation in the heated moments and step back. He explains how important it is to be simply be aware and recognize these feelings as “even the tiniest noticing" helps McAnulty to "navigate everyday life" leading him to express his true aim stating  "I want to stand up for wildlife, shout loudly about the wondrous things I’ve seen and learnt, all the magic that we can see if only we stop and look.”

Both habits of nature, his own experiences, being, and the urgent desire to share knowledge of his observations are of great importance for all readers to realize that however at odds we might seem with life, we are “at one” despite nature’s disruptions.

Diary of a Young Naturalist was originally published in 2020, republished by Milkweed Editions in 2021 with a paperback edition released in June 2022. Dara McAnulty is an autistic naturalist and multi-award-winning author. His second book, Wild Child: A Journey Through Nature was released in 2021.

Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs

Caroline Knapp

''I have fallen in love with my dog,'' Carolyn Knapp writes in Pack of Two, which explores the relationship between her and her dog Lucille, before continuing ''I'm 38 and I'm single, and I'm having my most intense and gratifying relationship with a dog. But we all learn about love in different ways, and this way happens to be mine.'' Eighteen months to the day after she quit drinking, Knapp stumbled upon an eight-week-old puppy at a local animal shelter, took her home, and named her Lucille. With this new relationship, Knapp presents topics many dog lovers will have wrangled with to form the basis for her memoir.

Knapp explores obedience training, whether to crate the dog, what food or treats to share, and whether to offer table scraps or not to her furry friend. Most importantly, these struggles lead Knapp to dig deep and search for insight by examining several studies which look intimately at the relationship between humanity and dogs. By thoroughly examining the evidence: the good, the bad, and the frustrating responsibilities that can come with being a dog owner, rebelling as if they were a teenager. These examinations complement Knapp's own personal and rewarding experiences with Lucille.

Knapp is investigating meaningful questions as Knapp declares, “I love the dog in a very human way, which is to say that I often nurture and tend to her in a very human way.” Even as she questions whether the dog views her as nothing more than “biscuit vending machine.” She states dogs, “care a lot less about pleasing humans than they care about pleasing themselves.” This sentiment would later be echoed by fellow poet and dog lover Mary Oliver who warned dog owners, “Be prepared. A dog is adorable and noble. A dog is a true and loving friend. A dog is also a hedonist.” She treads the familiar trials and tribulations of negotiating a relationship based on the love, control, and respect dog owners negotiate and often contemplate when tethered together— leash in hand and moving forward.

Caroline Knapp was a writer and columnist, most well-known for her best-selling memoir “Drinking: A Love Story” about her twenty-year struggle with alcoholism and addiction. Pack of Two was published by Dial Press in 1998.
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