Rock Creek Valley has been a national park since 1890, and if the area now is mainly a hub for running, biking, birding, and commuting, the woodland along the thirty-three miles the Creek runs from Laytonsville golf course to Foggy Bottom has been vital to local populations since the hunter-gatherers of the Archaic period went after huckleberries and chestnuts. As she did in her profile of Sugarloaf, Melanie Choukas-Bradley, also the author of the perennial favorite, City of Trees, intertwines the Park’s nature, culture, and history, pointing out herons and foxes, telling the stories of the families behind the Peirce and Veirs Mills, reviewing the Park’s role in the underground railroad, and quoting various presidents on what Rock Creek has meant to them. The past is as alive as the present in A Year in Rock Creek Park (George F. Thompson, $49.50, cloth; $29.95, paper), a written and visual record of the park in all seasons at all times of day. Choukas-Bradley explored every mile of it, variously walking, biking, skiing, and canoeing, accompanied by naturalists and historians, whose insights join her keen observations in these evocative, conversational essays. But don’t just take words for the magic of the place. The stunning full-color photos by award-winning nature photographer and garden-book writer Susan Austin Roth make Rock Creek’s beauty unforgettable.

A Year in Rock Creek Park: The Wild, Wooded Heart of Washington, DC Cover Image
ISBN: 9781938086243
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: University of Virginia Press - December 12th, 2014

Whether you are new to the nation’s capital or have lived here all your life, there’s much to learn from Howard Youth’s Field Guide to the Natural World of Washington, D.C. (Johns Hopkins Univ., $24.95). An ideal hostess or housewarming gift, this book deserves to be consulted year-round and city-wide; it’s everything the title promises. Starting with a natural history of the region, this information-packed volume proceeds to a comprehensive listing of park networks and forests, with maps and logistical details. Delightful, detailed watercolors by Mark Klingler (themselves complemented by the photographs of Robert Mumford) survey area birds, mammals, invertebrates, trees, flowers, mushrooms, and geological formations. The book particularly emphasizes the contribution of each species to the area’s ecosystem, guiding new and seasoned observers through the breadth of nature resplendent in our city.

Field Guide to the Natural World of Washington, D.C. Cover Image
By Howard Youth, Mark A. Klingler (Illustrator), Robert E. Mumford (Photographer)
ISBN: 9781421412047
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Johns Hopkins University Press - April 30th, 2014

A country’s transportation system can be surprisingly illuminating, and in Italian Ways (W.W. Norton, $15.95) Tim Parks takes the Italian railroad region by region, telling the country’s history by that of its railway. His engaging and informative tour includes a look at nonsensical laws that are as frequently enforced as they are blatantly ignored, and the political and economic implications of the controversial form of transportation (yes, controversial!). From the tickets that state they require stamping but in fact don’t, to the Sicily-bound train that has to be dismantled, carriage by carriage (a twelve-hour process), and ferried  to the island because there is no bridge, the reader sees what Parks means when he says that “Italy is not for beginners.” All this is riveting, and Parks makes the book unputdownable with his own personal accounts of traveling by Italian rail. Here are first-hand glimpses homecoming soldiers smothered in maternal kisses and the loud and boisterous soccer fans waving team flags from the windows—you will walk away from this book with a few laughs and a deeper understanding of Italy’s people and culture.

Italian Ways: On and Off the Rails from Milan to Palermo Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393348828
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - May 5th, 2014