Since last Fall I have gotten more heavily involved in photography. It’s become my passion. I have been exploring it all, macrophotography, astrophotography, portraits, landscapes, and wildlife. Living in Upstate New York offers many opportunities to photograph birds. You’ll find countless bird boxes and feeders in our yards and an abundance of state parks, lakes, and protected lands that provide a sanctuary for more exotic species like bald eagles and great blue herons. I have really enjoyed capturing them in action and being able to show them in ways we don’t normally get to observe them.
It should be no surprise then that my bundle includes books on photography and birds. If you are curious to see more of my photos you can find them at www.scottelevine.com, but before you do, you should check out the books that I have bundled.
1. The Borscht Belt, which features essays by Stefan Kanfer and Jenna Weissman Joselit, presents Marisa Scheinfeld’s photographs of abandoned sites where resorts, hotels, and bungalow colonies once boomed in the Catskill Mountain region of upstate New York. Not only are these incredible photographs, but like many Jewish people, my family would spend some of their summertime in the Catskills. In fact, my Aunt Sydell and Uncle Mickey met there when they were both working at Grossinger’s in the late 50s. Many of these resorts have been left to be reclaimed by nature and have fallen into states of disrepair—it is not only a beautiful subject to explore but an important document of Jewish culture and history in the United States. Did I mention the photographs are masterpieces?
2. Brooklyn Before. I grew up in Queens, and before I moved up to Ithaca over 15 years ago, I lived in Brooklyn. This book resonated with me because it had glimpses of how I remembered NYC having grown up there in the 70s. The photographer Larry Racioppo has the fascinating ability to tell a story in one photograph and depicts an intriguing set of true Brooklyn stories from the inside, in ways that an outsider simply cannot. On the pages of, Brooklyn Before the intimacy and roughness of life in a working-class community of Irish American, Italian American, and Puerto Rican families is shown with honesty and insight. While all the people in the book were strangers, I felt like I already met them before, all those years ago.
3. National Parks of Costa Rica. Conservation is a big part of upstate NY. I frequently visit a Heron rookery on 15 minutes away from my house that is part of a protected land trust. Without efforts like these, this beauty could be lost.This book features stunning photographs by Gregory Basco, a professional Costa Rica nature photographer. It provides an unparalleled glimpse into the treasures of Costa Rica’s parks. With stunning images and informative text, National Parks of Costa Rica imparts an appreciation for the richness of nature and the importance of environmental conservation. If like me, you haven’t yet been to Costa Rica, or even if you have spent many vacations there, these works of art will make you eager to see it in person. Until then, I can immerse myself in these images and feel like I am there.
4. The Birds at My Table. One thing many bird photographers do is invite birds over for a meal in exchange for a visit and opportunity to photograph them. I have spent many hours joyfully sitting in front of bird feeders studying the birds’ rhythms and movements, learning their behaviors so I can improve my timing when trying to capture them in action. My reasons for feeding birds is just one of the many that Daryl Jones explores in his book, The Birds at My Table. Jones takes us on a wild flight through the history of bird feeding. He pinpoints the highs and lows of the practice and he ponders this odd but seriously popular form of interaction between humans and wild animals.
5. Photographic Literacy. This book is just fascinating, period. This primer on photographic literacy explores the interesting convergences of the photographic arts and literature. The author, Katherine Reischl argues for the central place that photography has played in the formation of the Russian literary imagination over the course of roughly seventy years. From image to text and back again, she traces the visual consciousness of modern Russian literature as captured through the lens of the Russian author-photographer. I don’t know about you, but I think it is amazing to see how these masters of words framed the world in single images.
Scott Levine is Art Director at Cornell University Press.
Love to share? Tell us what books made your bundle, tagging @CornellPress and using the hashtag #BundleWeek on social, and we might just share them to inspire others.
Happy Bundle Week!