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Book news: On the radio, a blog, poetry and 100 beach reads

July 30, 2009 |  1:52 pm

John Muir, the man whose influence helped turn the Yosemite area into national park, is considered the father of the conservation movement. But wanting to preserve what was unblemished wilderness was not as pure an act as we have previously thought. "Muir decided that this was a wonderful place to rest your soul and a place for weary urbanites to leave the city for a while and think about wilderness," author Mark Dowie says on the radio program "Living on Earth." "And of course it was. But he didn't think they would be able to accomplish that in the company of natives. So he arranged and argued that the natives should be removed. He really didn't have a lot of use for Native Americans." Dowie's book "Conservation Refugees" is out now on MIT Press.

In completely unrelated news, say hello to the new book blogosphere entry from Entertainment Weekly, Shelf Life. Frequent blogger Thom Geier is quick with a quip; we'll try to keep up.

Something we missed here in L.A.: La Bloga writes up La Palabra, a monthly poetry event at the Avenue 50 Studio in Highland Park that allows open mic-ers to mix with known literary figures like Luis Rodriguez. Usually the poetry happens the fourth Sunday of each month, but Aug. 22 is an off-site fundraiser, so check its website for details about the next event.

I looked and looked, but I don't think any poetry has made NPR's list of 100 Best Beach Reads. Listeners voted, and the result is an interesting mix of popular and highbrow fiction; I was surprised to find lesser-known books like Wallace Stegner's "Angle of Repose" on the list (only 32 spots behind "Twilight"). Page-turners are often considered good beach reads -- so Stephen King and Mario Puzo are to be expected. But as others before me have pointed out, No. 62, Peter Benchley's "Jaws," seems a funny choice. Don't you want to go back in the water?

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Yosemite Falls. Credit: The_Tahoe_Guy via Flickr