Isle of Books Presents: Last Best Books for Summer 2024

100 Things


100 Things To Do in Montana Before You Die

By Susie Wall

Travel guides aren't just for out-of-staters, you know. Even we Montanans need occasional reminders of the embarrassment of riches we have available to us. Susie Wall has provided us with the perfect memento. Her suggestions for bucket list Treasure State experiences are as varied as "Savor the Tradition of Butte Pasties" "Listen to Wolves at Howler Inn," Relax at Sleeping Buffalo Hot Springs" and "Experience Native Culture at Kyiyo Pow Wow," and are excellent advice for anyone, whether a veteran of Montana culture or otherwise.

Great Montana Weekends


Great Montana Weekends: Fifty-Two Amazing (Fantastic, Unbelievable, Probably Pretty Good, Mostly Family Friendly) Things to Do in the Big Sky State

By Allen Morris Jones

Much like Susie Wall's recent book, also reviewed on this page, Allen Morris Jones's book brims over with great ways to pass the time in Montana and soak in the culture of Montana. Each activity, in this case, includes a "kid friendliness" rating system, which is a boon to those of us with kids that prove difficult to tear away from their devices. Heck, some of these weekends might just build character, like "sweep out a shearing shed." Handsomely illustrated and filled with fun facts about the people and places behind the weekends suggested, here's another guidebook well worth picking up.

Most Trout


Most Trout Don't Read

by Scot Bealer

Thank goodness trout don't read, or they'd know all the tips and tricks offered up by Bealer, an instructor in the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks 'Hooked on Fishing' program. Bealer's deep knowledge of fishing is helpful to any angler, aspiring, amateur, or pro, and we wouldn't want those trout to be privy to any of it. On the other hand, the thought of depriving literate trout of the right to enjoy these warm, funny, and incisive stories seems like a crime. So whatever side of the fishing life you occupy, the fisherman or the fished, if you can read, you should probably read this book.

Hush of the Land


Hush of the Land: A Lifetime in the Bob Marshall Wilderness

By Arnold "Smoke" Elser with Eva-Maria Maggi

Mr. Elser, "Smoke" to his friends, and most of us are his friends, is a Montana legend. He's worked as an animal packer for more than half a century and was an instructor of wilderness outfitting and packing at the University of Montana. His stories, collected here and shaped and edited by Eva-Maria Maggi, are portraits of a Montana quickly vanishing but which anyone with a heart and a love of beauty wishes would return.

These true tales include terrifying grizzly encounters, the quietly elegiac story of finding a dead man propped against a tree in the Bitterroot, a frantic struggle to stop a spreading wildfire, days spent in the sun and nights spent camping under the stars. But they're all the more poignant because the Montana they describe is precious and could disappear if we're not careful; the book is memoir, adventure, history, and call for sensible conservation all at once.

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