"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Thursday, May 2, 2024


Title: Subpar Parks: America's Most Extraordinary National Parks and Their Least Impressed Visitors by Amber Share

Book Beginning:
Denali National Park. Alaska. Established 1980.
Oh, right sure, Denali is absolutely barren. If by "barren," you mean it's a six-million-acre Alaskan wilderness full of spruce forests, two thousand species of plants, grizzly bears, wolves, moose, caribu ... not to mention the highest peak in North America.
Subpar comment about Denali National Park: "Barren wasteland of tundra."

Olympic National Park. Washington. Established 1938.
If a park that spans so many different ecosystems that it's practically four parks in one AND is also full of incredible views doesn't wow you, I'm not sure what will.
Subpar comments about Olympic National Park: Not pictured: "No Wow Factor," and "Don't understand what all the fuss is about."

Based on the wildly popular Instagram account, Subpar Parks celebrates the incredible beauty and variety of America's national parks juxtaposed with the clueless and hilarious one-star reviews posted by visitors.

Subpar Parks, both on the popular Instagram page and in this humorous, informative, and collectible book, combines two things that seem like they might not work together yet somehow harmonize perfectly: beautiful illustrations and informative, amusing text celebrating each national park paired with the one-star reviews disappointed tourists have left online. 
Review: As you know I just got home from visiting the five US National Parks in Utah. Each park was fantastic, beautiful, overwhelmingly special, and awe-inspiring. It is hard to believe that anyone could rate the parks with less than five-stars but apparently you can't impress some people and these people went out of way to leave one-star reviews. Author and artist, Amber Share, created subpar postcard art for each park and wrote a quick, often snarky reaction to that subpar comment. (Included in the bolded text on the information page about the park.)

I adored this humorous book, carrying it around the house so I could read outloud the comments to whichever family member got in my way. Often books about National Parks are lengthy, there are 63 parks after all, but this book is refreshingly short, 200 pages long. the format includes one page description about the park and one full-page illustration for each. Amber Share made sure to include information about the relationship between the land and indigenous people, which I appreciated. Instead of being less impressed by each of the National Parks, National Monuments, National Seashores, and Historic Parks because of the subpar reviews, I was more impressed. Before reading this book I'd given up on my goal to visit all the parks. Now I am back to dreaming of seeing all of the parks I can get to before I am too old to hike the trails and enjoy the travel.

I thought the funniest subpar review is the one about Biscayne Bay, which is mostly about coral reefs and shipwrecks: "Phone signal is impossible." Well, duh! This National Park is mostly under the bay! 

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