Steven Rinella’s Fall Reading List

Steven Rinella’s Fall Reading List
Over the course of the last season, Steve sent out his media recommendations as a weekly companion to each MeatEater episode, complete with books, movies, articles, & more. We’ve compiled a fall reading list from the books & articles Steve recommended in these newsletters. If you’re interested in receiving our email newsletters, subscribe here:
  1. A Sand County Almanac, by Aldo Leopold. If you’re going to read one thing from Leopold, read this. It’s a great book about hunting, and it lays out Leopold’s visionary ideas about wildlife conservation. What’s most stunning about this book is how applicable it is to today’s world. At times, it’s hard to believe that he was writing a hundred years ago.
  2. Tenth Legion, by Colonel Tom Kelly. Full disclosure: I haven’t finished this one yet. In fact, I just started reading it this morning. It’s been high on my to-do list for a long time, as it’s widely considered to be the best thing ever written about turkey hunting and I’ve had about a dozen friends recommend it to me. Kelly self-published the book back in 1973. Thankfully, turkey’s haven’t changed a lick since then.
  3. Boone, by Robert Morgan. I recommend this one all the time. It provides a riveting history of Kentucky and early American hunting through the lens of famed explorer and market hunter, Daniel Boone. This book is one of the best biographies I’ve ever read, period.
  4. The Hunters of Kentucky: A Narrative History of America’s First Far West, 1750‑1792, by Ted Franklin Belue. A professional historian, Belue is less poetic and insightful than Robert Morgan. But his histories of Kentucky and early American big game hunters are exceptional. You’ll learn a lot about the folks who walked the woods a couple hundred years before us.
  5. The Border Trilogy (All the Pretty Horses, The Crossing, Cities of the Plain) by Cormac McCarthy. If you’ve seen the film adaptation of All the Pretty Horses, forget that ever happened. Dig into these novels instead, which are set along the U.S./Mexico border. They bear witness to the dark side of humanity. Pay special attention to McCarthy’s stark morality; within his code, you will find clues to living an honorable life. If you’ve got the stomach, move on to his masterpiece, Blood Meridian. It’ll leave you gutted.
  6. “An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge,” or “A Dead Man’s Dream,” by Ambrose Bierce. This creepy, haunting short story was first published in the year 1890. It’s set in Alabama during the Civil War, and involves the hanging of a plantation owner. What makes it applicable to the border country is that Bierce later traveled into Mexico and vanished without a trace. His disappearance remains one of the great literary mysteries.
  7. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding. This classic ain’t just for high schoolers. An allegorical tale set on a deserted island amidst nuclear war, it focuses on the perils of anarchy and the lust for power. Why does it make the media recommendation list for a MeatEater episode about wild hogs? Because it features, in a prominent way, the severed head of a wild pig that’s posted atop a stake. It’s a quick read, so dig in.
  8. Hogs Wild, by Ian Frazier. One of America’s finest essayists (and one of my writing mentors) wrote this fabulous piece about the wild hog infestation of the American South. His breakdown of the correlation between hog densities and voting trends is hilarious. This article will educate you and get under your skin.
  9. Make Prayers to the Raven, by Richard K. Nelson. In the 1970s, Nelson, an anthropologist, lived among the Koyukon people along the Koyukuk River. He chronicles the elaborate taboo system that governs their hunting practices and the consumption of wild game. A few highlights include their reluctance to drink too much water, because water can only run downhill; their belief that a real man kills bears in hibernation and not when the animals are out walking around; and the idea that beaver meat shouldn’t be eaten too fresh, because the animal’s spirit hasn’t had time to escape.
  10. The Beaver: Its Life and Impact, Second Edition by Dietland Muller-Schwarze. If you want to get really, really deep into beaver, check out this title. It answers all the questions. The stuff about wolf predation is particularly interesting.
  11. The Barbecue Bible (or anything else) by Steven Raichlen. This guy deserves a Nobel Prize in meat smoking. I’ve successfully adapted dozens of Raichlen’s recipes for wild game. His preparations have been informed by cultures from around the world. The sauces, mops and marinades make his book worth purchasing.
  12. The Pine Barrens, by John McPhee. One of my all-time favorite writers, McPhee breaks down the charcoal business in longer form here. This book is funny as hell, and explores such things as inbreeding, deer poaching, cranberries, and other delights through the lens of New Jersey’s pine barrens and its inhabitants. Includes one of the greatest greetings of all times, shouted to McPhee after he knocks on a stranger’s door: “Come in, come in, come on the hell in.”
  13. Arctic Dreams, by Barry Lopez. This book has some brilliant and stirring passages about grizzly bears and their Arctic cousins, the polar bear. Lopez seems deeply conflicted about hunting, though he has witnessed much of it – including walrus hunts. This book is a must for anyone who’s willing to take a deep look at animals and landscape.
  14. Coming Into the Country, by John McPhee. This book is fantastic. It’s a history of Alaska, which is great, but I’m putting it here because it’s packed full of cool bear stories.
Bonus: Kevin Murphy’s Book Picks
+Land Between The Lakes, by Frank E. Smith
+Big Woods: The Hunting Stories, by William Faulkner

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