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///A Reading List of Books about the Chesapeake Bay Watershed

A Reading List of Books about the Chesapeake Bay Watershed

1. River of Redemption: Almanac of Life on the Anacostia by Krista Schlyer

Recommended by our DC team, this book explores the life along the Anacostia River. Krista Schlyer dives into the rich history and biodiversity of this important waterway along our nation’s capital. If you love photography, this book is for you. The photos of the Anacostia are sure to capture your attention.

“Incorporating seven years of photography and research, Krista Schlyer portrays life along the Anacostia River, a Washington, DC, waterway rich in history and biodiversity that has nonetheless lingered for years in obscurity and neglect in our nation’s capital. River of Redemption offers an experience of the river that reveals its eons of natural history, centuries of destruction, and decades of restoration efforts. The story of the Anacostia echoes the story of rivers across America.”

2. How to Catch Chesapeake Panfish by Shawn Kimbro

Shawn Kimbro is always a favorite author among our staff. In his most recent book “How to Catch Panfish,” Kimbro lays out the best year-round strategies for catching perch, crappie, bluegill, shad, and other species in the tidal waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

“Featuring the locations of prime fishing spots in Maryland and Virginia along with the history of some of the region’s most popular lures, you’ll find details about the best baits, rigs, lines, rods, reels, and other tackle. Enhanced with entertaining fish tales and illustrated by Eva Nichols’ artful sketches, this book is perfect for both beginning anglers and seasoned panfish pros.”

3. Chesapeake Requiem: A Year with the Watermen of Vanishing Tangier Island by Earl Swift

Published in the summer of 2018, Chesapeake Requiem is the latest book to take on the story of Tangier Island. What used to be famous for its unique small watermen community off the coast of Virginia, is now known for effects from climate change. Swift does a wonderful job connecting the reader to the population and land of Tangier Island.

“A brilliant, soulful, and timely portrait of a two-hundred-year-old crabbing community along the Chesapeake Bay facing extinction because of climate change–part natural history, part paean to a vanishing way of life, and part meditation on man’s relationship with nature–from a Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist and the author of The Big Roads.”

4. Susquehanna: River of Dreams by Susan Stranahan

Recommended by our team members in our Pennsylvania office, Susquehanna: River of Dreams explores the rich history of the Susquehanna River and ultimately connects the history to our current pollution problems towards the Chesapeake Bay. However, through updates on the positive health of the river and by connecting with local residents through interviews, Stranahan leaves the readers feeling optimistic.

“Rivers offer the perfect framework for a storyteller. They provide a beginning and an end with an obvious flow from one to the other. They neatly link people and events in history. They serve as paths of discovery and arteries of commerce. Not only can rivers be counted on for moments of great drama, but they also invariably attract their share of eccentric characters. So it is with the Susquehanna.”

5Bringing Nature Home: How you can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants by Doug Tallamy

Bringing Nature home is a number one best seller in Biological Science of Wildlife. Author, Doug Tallamy’s goal is to help homeowners and gardeners learn about the importance of planting native plants in order to improve the amount of wildlife in their area. Tallamy wants gardeners to know that they have a powerful impact and that they can make a significant contribution toward sustainable biodiversity.

“As development and subsequent habitat destruction accelerate, there are increasing pressures on wildlife populations. In Bringing Nature Home, Douglas W. Tallamy reveals the unbreakable link between native plant species and native wildlife—native insects cannot, or will not, eat alien plants. When native plants disappear, the insects disappear, impoverishing the food source for birds and other animals. In many parts of the world, habitat destruction has been so extensive that local wildlife is in crisis and may be headed toward extinction.”

6. Chesapeake: A Novel by James Michener

Chesapeake is a classic novel and known well throughout the watershed. In this historical novel, Michener depicts multiple characters and families living on the Eastern Shore through several decades, starting in 1583 with American Indian tribe warring and ends in 1978 (when the book was published).

“In this classic novel, James A. Michener brings his grand epic tradition to bear on the four-hundred-year saga of America’s Eastern Shore, from its Native American roots to the modern age. In the early 1600s, young Edmund Steed is desperate to escape religious persecution in England. After joining Captain John Smith on a harrowing journey across the Atlantic, Steed makes a life for himself in the New World, establishing a remarkable dynasty that parallels the emergence of America. Through the extraordinary tale of one man’s dream, Michener tells intertwining stories of family and national heritage, introducing us along the way to Quakers, pirates, planters, slaves, abolitionists, and notorious politicians, all making their way through American history in the common pursuit of freedom.”

7. On Meadowview Street by Henry Cole

Every good reading list needs at least one picture book. On Meadowview Street is a beautiful story about Caroline on Meadowview Street, who is disappointed because there is nothing growing in her front yard besides grass. However, she recognizes that there is hope when she spots a butterfly and flower on her street. This is a educational children’s book about how conservation landscaping supports wildlife and pollinators.

“Caroline lives on Meadowview Street. But where’s the meadow? Where’s the view? There’s nothing growing in her front yard except grass. Then she spots a flower and a butterfly and a bird and Caroline realizes that with her help, maybe Meadowview Street can have a meadow after all.”

8. Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver

Although Mary Oliver’s poetry is not associated with the Chesapeake Bay, her writing inspires us to get outside and to appreciate nature and all living things. Mary Oliver passed away this past January. This book is a collection of some of her best work from the past 50 years that she put together herself. What better way to celebrate the life of Mary Oliver than reading her poetry and envisioning yourself in nature.

“Carefully curated, these 200 plus poems feature Oliver’s work from her very first book of poetry, No Voyage and Other Poems, published in 1963 at the age of 28, through her most recent collection, Felicity, published in 2015. This timeless volume, arranged by Oliver herself, showcases the beloved poet at her edifying best. Within these pages, she provides us with an extraordinary and invaluable collection of her passionate, perceptive, and much-treasured observations of the natural world.”

9. Coming of Age at the End of Nature: A Generation Faces Living on A Changed Planet by Various Authors  

This book is a collection of personal essays written by the millennial generation. Each story gives the author’s own perspective on how they are dealing with living in a world where climate change affects our natural environment. Some stories offer examples for us to change our habits for a healthier planet, while others write about previous generations damaging the planet. We all have our own stories about what we consider to be our connection with nature and this book gives examples from a variety of different authors.

“Coming of Age at the End of Nature explores a new kind of environmental writing. This powerful anthology gathers the passionate voices of young writers who have grown up in an environmentally damaged and compromised world. Each contributor has come of age since Bill McKibben foretold the doom of humanity’s ancient relationship with a pristine earth in his prescient 1988 warning of climate change, The End of Nature.”

10. Beautiful Swimmers: Watermen, Crabs, and the Chesapeake Bay by William W. Warner

This book is a Pulitzer prize winning non-fiction book about watermen on the Chesapeake Bay. Blue crabs are an iconic staple to the Chesapeake Bay and Warner explores why that is through following the life of Chesapeake Bay watermen. Beautiful Swimmers combines the natural history of the blue crab with the history of the Chesapeake Bay.

“For almost two decades, William Warner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning exploration of the Atlantic blue crab and the Chesapeake Bay has delighted thousands of readers and become a modern American classic. Now, in an updated paperback edition, the author provides a new afterword that offers current information on the status of the Chesapeake today — its imperiled but resilient ecosystem and increasingly scarce resources. Nature enthusiasts and fans of fine literature alike will find Beautiful Swimmers a timeless and enchanting study, in the tradition of Rachel Caron’s Edge of the Sea and Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. In these pages we are immersed not only in the world of the Chesapeake’s most intriguing crustaceans, but in the winds and tides of the Bay itself and the struggles of the watermen who make their living in pursuit of the succulent, pugnacious blue crab.”

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Lucy Heller Chesapeake Conservation Corps Intern, Maryland & DC Office

Lucy is a Chesapeake Conservation Corps member located in our Annapolis office. Lucy will be helping with a couple projects including, Project Clean Stream and Tree Plantings. Also, as part of the Chesapeake Conservation Corps program, Lucy will be working on a capstone project.

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