Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Green book review & giveaway

This review is part of the Green Books campaign. Today 100 bloggers are reviewing 100 great books printed in an environmentally friendly way. Our goal is to encourage publishers to get greener and readers to take the environment into consideration when purchasing books. This campaign is organized by Eco-Libris, a a green company working to green up the book industry by promoting the adoption of green practices, balancing out books by planting trees, and supporting green books. A full list of participating blogs and links to their reviews is available on the Eco-Libris website.

Back in September, I was offered a chance to receive a green book for review in conjunction with a campaign to raise awareness about environmentally-responsible books. Not only were many of the books about green topics, but most were printed on either recycled paper or paper made from sources certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Participants were allowed to pick a first and second choice from the list of 100 books, and I was selected to review my top choice, A Walk for Sunshine by Jeff Alt.

My book is printed in compliance with the green press initiative on FSC-certified 100% post-consumer content paper. Recycled paper is a cause close to my heart, having spent several years in college in an environmental club that devoted some time to the Sierra Student Coalition's campaign to convince major paper companies to adopt sustainable forest management practices and increase the use of post-consumer content in their products.

I also have some first-hand experience with how difficult it is to convince businesses (and schools) to use recycled paper. In her fantastic book Garbageland, author Elizabeth Royte relays her experiences related to the cause. She asked her publisher to consider printing the book on recycled paper using soy ink, but they were unable to accommodate her and produce what they considered a cost-effective product. Knowing this, I appreciate even more a book that is printed on the best paper possible for the environment.

A Walk for Sunshine is author Jeff Alt's memoir of his 1998 thru-hike of the 2160-mile Appalachian Trail. A lifelong lover of the outdoors, Alt conceived the idea of an AT thru-hike as a fundraiser for the Sunshine group home where his disabled brother Aaron has spent most of his life. Alt spent a year preparing, researching, and recruiting sponsors before undertaking the five-month hike from Springer Mountain, Georgia, to Mount Katahdin, Maine. He would eventually raise $16,000 for the Sunshine home and inspire a yearly fundraising walk in Sunshine's hometown of Toledo, Ohio.

But the book is mostly about Alt's experiences on the trail, and it is a great adventure tale. From the skunk who curled up on his feet on a cold night in Georgia to the bear who charged him on a wooded stretch of trail in Maine, from the thru-hikers he bonded with to the civilians who provided him with "trail magic," Alt weaves a light-spirited, bighearted tale that kept me turning pages from beginning to end. An AT thru-hike is a bit of a Holy Grail of outdoor experiences, something many nature lovers dream about but never attempt, let alone complete. Alt is refreshingly honest about the physical and mental hardships of the trail, but never stops feeling grateful for the experiences he is having on his journey. I found his optimism and good nature enjoyable.

Alt is not afraid to poke gentle fun at himself, and even chooses a trail name based on a silly rookie mistake -- he dubs himself Wrongfoot after spending his first day on the trails with his arch supports in the wrong boots, resulting in blistered feet. The book moves along at a good pace, and short chapters make for easy reading. Each chapter is preceded by a map of the Appalachian Trail with an arrow marking Alt's progress, a nice detail that keeps the reader rooted in the geographical significance of this truly epic walk.

I enjoyed the book very much, even though it did make me feel a bit sheepish about my own somewhat brief encounter with the Appalachian Trail. In the spirit of sharing, I'd love to pass on my copy of A Walk for Sunshine. For a chance at it, go visit the cross-posted version of this review on my book blog and leave a comment there sharing a favorite hiking memory or a goal for something major you want to accomplish. For an extra entry, tweet with a link to the giveaway and leave a comment for me that includes your Twitter ID. I will accept entries with a valid email address (over there, not here!) until midnight on Sunday, November 15. US & Canada only, please!

1 comment:

  1. Speaking of green books, I discovered the publisher ChelseaGreen
    ( http://www.chelseagreen.com/ ) that not only publishes many books with eco-related subject matter, but they also use recycled (not sure what percent PCC) paper and soy ink. Looking through their catalog for me is like a kid in a candy shop, so I thought I'd pass on this find!