PODCAST

Episode 221: Philip D'Anieri

BY MEGAN LABRISE • June 22, 2021

Debut author Philip D’Anieri built an irresistible biography of the Appalachian Trail.

On this week’s episode, Philip D’Anieri discusses The Appalachian Trail: A Biography (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, June 8), an intriguing look at the 2100-mile National Scenic Trail extending from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. D’Anieri, a lecturer in architecture, regional planning, and the environment at the University of Michigan, tells its story through the lives of 12 visionaries, builders, and travelers who shaped its place in our imagination.

Kirkus: “The author opens with a concise survey of the Appalachian range’s geological past, but he is clear in his intent for the narrative. This book, he writes, ‘is not a comprehensive history of every aspect of the Appalachian Trail’s development, and it is even less about the details of hiking on the trail. It is a biography: an attempt to render something essential about the life of this place by looking at how it developed over time.’ His character studies are uniformly fascinating, as readers learn far more than expected about these obsessive, sometimes cranky creators. No romanticist, D’Anieri also asks, and usually answers, salient if seldom-asked questions: Whom is the trail for? How reflective of the ‘natural’ world is it? Is the human past of this unique and ever changing landscape of any consequence?….An incisive take on an American treasure that shines with illuminating detail and insight” (starred review).

D’Anieri and host Megan Labrise talk about designating a book about a place as a “biography”; the necessity of categorizing and recategorizing the land to make the trail an entity; what inspired the book; Arnold Guyot, the man who literally put the AT on the map; what the AT says about who we are and what we value; and much more.

And in a sponsored interview, Megan talks with Dylan Thuras and Cecily Wong of Atlas Obscura about their forthcoming book Gastro Obscura: A Food Adventurer’s Guide (Workman, Oct. 12). This big, beautifully illustrated compendium takes readers around the world on a guided tour of gustatory delights, remarkable restaurants, food festivals, and more.

Then editors Vicky Smith, Laura Simeon, Eric Liebetrau, and Laurie Muchnick join with their weekly reading recommendations.

Editors’ picks:

What Does Little Crocodile Say? by Eva Montanari (Tundra Books)

Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon (Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins)

Can’t Knock the Hustle: Inside the Season of Protest, Pandemic, and Progress with the Brooklyn Nets’ Superstars of Tomorrow by Matt Sullivan (Dey Street Books)

The Great Mistake by Jonathan Lee (Knopf)

 

Also mentioned in this episode:

Butterflies in My Stomach and Other School Hazards by Serge Bloch (Sterling)

Attucks!: Oscar Robertson and the Basketball Team That Awakened a City by Phillip Hoose (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

The Last Pass: Cousy, Russell, the Celtics, and What Matters in the End by Gary M. Pomerantz (Penguin Press)

City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg (Knopf)

 

Thanks to our advertisers this week:

A Night in October by Robert Illo

The Home Guard by John Warley

The Open Road: Autobiography of George A. Hormel by George A. Hormel

Innocence and Gold Dust by Frances Webb

 

Fully Booked is produced by Cabel Adkins Audio and Megan Labrise.

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