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Walking Salt Lake City

Soon the weather will cool a bit and taking a stroll will be a welcome change from blistering heat or refrigerated air conditioning. And thanks to Lynn Arave and Ray Boren, you can now stroll about the greater Salt Lake Valley and beyond with purpose. Their new book, "Walking Salt Lake City," will entice you to put on your walking shoes and hit the pavement.


Thirty-four different walking tours are featured, from the Dimple Dell area in Sandy, to Lagoon, and even Antelope Island. Each tour has a helpful map at the beginning, as well as boundaries, distance, level of difficulty, and either where to park or how to use public transportation to get there. At the end of each tour is a list of points of interest (which includes great places to get snacks or full meals), a route summary, and even how to connect some of the walks with each other. If you are up to it, additional tours and sites are suggested. And, you can make these walks as long or as short as you choose.


Consider this: an easy quarter mile stroll at the Temple Quarry in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Or how about an easy one mile stroll on the Fielding Garr Ranch on Antelope Island? Ever consider walking the Bonneville Shoreline? That tour is about 3.5 easy miles. Or you could plan a tour of Central City which takes you past the new home of Weller Book Works! (It's in the book folks. Really)


At the end of the book is a list of walks by theme: people watching, arts, architecture, peaceful escapes, serious workouts, and dining/shopping. The key word in these walking tours is minutiae. Walking along, seeing the detail of the area will humor you, enlighten you, and occassionally amaze you. And this guide is the perfect companion. The only thing not included are the comfortable walking shoes!


Walking Salt Lake City cover








Guardian Poplar

Chase Peterson's new book, The Guardian Poplar: A Memoir of Deep Roots, Journey, and Rediscovery was honored at a launch Guardian poplar coverparty at the University of Utah Press on May 9. Now in his mid-80s, Peterson stood at the podium for over an hour and held court in a room packed with academic friends and colleagues. His comedic timing could easily earn him a spot on Letterman or the Tonight Show. He entertained questions from the audience and was given a standing ovation. Few heard him as he turned to his wife and said, "Grethe, this is fun! We should write another book!"


At the mention of an autobiography of an M.D. turned Dean of Admissions at Harvard and President at the University of Utah, does your first thought include words like dull, dry, self-promoting? Well think again. This book could be all those things, but fortunately for readers it is not. It is refreshingly candid, honest, warm and funny.


Peterson has defined this book as a memoir rather than an autobiography, so "it could be whatever you want it to be." He recounts his youth on the campus of Utah State University where his father was president for 29 years. He shares funny stories of a five year old's adventures in the world of academics... and painting --not art -- house painting. Curiosity caused him to investigate the paint cans left a the President's home after painters had repainted the exterior white. When they returned the next day to paint the trim a fine red, it seems Peterson had beat them to it. A line of bright red paint about three feet off the ground surrounded the house.


He shares a hilarious family story that happened while the Petersons lived in Boston. I won't tell you the fairly graphic curse six year old son Stuart said to his mother in a fit of pique. But I laughed out loud. Of this incident Peterson recounts, "The family was none the worse for having heard the cruelest indictment [Stuart] could think of, and we have never let him forget it." It is priceless.


Peterson was the face at Harvard when pressured to institute quotas for admitting black students to the university. (He refused) Years later he faced the media during the 112 days Barney Clark lived with the Jarvik-7 artificial heart in the University Hospital. And in 1989, Peterson was again the face of the University during the media storm that announced Fleischman and Pon's cold fusion experiment. Peterson's inside view of these three events is ground-breaking and fascinating.


In later years Peterson was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, but has outlived the death sentence of that diagnosis by more than 15 years, continues to thrive, and lecture at the U's Medical School.


The title of the book is based on an engraving by Birger Sandzen titled Guardian Poplar that he gave to the Peterson family during their time at Utah State. Poplar trees are favored in Utah and elsewhere as wind breaks because they have large, strong root sytems. I've recently read that poplar wood is frequently used as the core for snowboards because of its flexibility. Peterson writes that Sandzen's engraving symbolizes the impact his heritage, and particularly his parents, have had on his well-lived life. But the parallels in Peterson's own life will be obvious.


An Appreciation in the book says it best: "Chase has managed to be self-aware without becoming self-absorbed, to take the reader along on his journey of rediscovery without preaching, whining or boasting... To be given a passenger seat as Chase retraces his life journey creates an extraordinary voyage for the reader." Enjoy.

Every two months the new book buyers at Sam Weller's select an exceptional book to review and recommend to our fellow readers. To show our support of the quality of the book, we offer it at Weller's for 20% off cover price!
pick for August-September is The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry. Read our review on our e-newsletter BOOKTALK.
Enjoy highly-recommended books for 20% off at Weller's..
What if you were born old and grew younger? This is the question in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button", a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. In this story, Benjamin Button is born to Mr. and Mrs. Roger Button in 1860 an old man of around seventy with wispy white hair and a long smoke-colored beard able to ask Mr. Roger Button if he was his father on the day of his birth. By the time he's eighteen, Benjamin Button looks to be around fifty, and this continues throughout his life that those around him, his family, his wife, would look older as he regressed in age. This story is full of magic and composed so brilliantly that it has been published in multiple collections of short stories by Fitzgerald and even as its own stand-alone book (the perfect size to take with you on a car or plane ride and keep you entertained until you reach your destination). This fall, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" can be seen in theatres. An adaptation written by Eric Roth (writer of "Munich" and "The Good Shepherd") and directed by David Fincher (director of "Se7en", "Fight Club", and "Zodiac"), it stars Brad Pitt as Benjamin Button along side an amazing cast including Cate Blanchett and Tilda Swinton. Take note, this looks to be an Oscar contender, the trailer alone gave me chills. If you want something short, or different, or something with characters you can actually care about, I highly recommend picking up a copy of "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button", you won't regret it!

*And make sure to read this before you see the film, no excuses, the stand-alone book is barely 52 pages long.

Is there a song or artist that you feel defines a moment in your life? In his debut novel Love Is A Mix Tape writer Rob Sheffield uses music/mix tapes as a framework in this memoir. As someone who also likes to surround herself with music I could easily understand this correlation of music and memory. It is an excellent device and I enjoyed the mixture of the aural and the written word.

Sheffield mostly discusses music of the late 80s and 90s which is an era that I know very well. I think because of that I was able to connect with several chapters especially his chapter about Kurt Cobain. However the problem with this is that if you have not ever heard of the music that he's talking about then your enjoyment can be limited.

I think that Sheffield makes up for that by inserting an immense emotional hook. His elegy to his wife is heartbreaking and even had this stoic tearing up. Using music to cope with grief Sheffield is not afraid to show honest emotion on the page. It is this aspect that I think creates a universal appeal.

If you'd like to read more of my book musings feel free to click here.