Book Review: Subpar Parks: America’s Most Extraordinary National Parks and Their Least Impressed Visitors (Amber Share)

Book Review: Subpar Parks: America’s Most Extraordinary National Parks and Their Least Impressed Visitors (Amber Share)

Subpar Parks

Subpar Parks is a fun (and relatively quick) read by Amber Share. I will get into the book review in a bit, but theres plenty to discuss and things before that. (If you rather just skip ahead, go for it, it’ll be under the Book Review heading.)

As a funny note to start off with – on the date I posted the article: New Belgium Brewing and Subpar Parks Join Up For The Lack Of Wildlife Is Alarming, my girlfriend Amy happened to have bought me this book for Christmas.

And I am ever so glad she did. After reading about it, I had already put it on my “to get” list, so hearing Amy tell me she got it for me, I was quite pleased.

It made for a wonderful Christmas gift.

Washington Post Article

If you are able to read it – you might need to use it as one of your free view articles, or if you are paying and behind the paid wall – The Washington Post has a quite article, and small interview with author Amber Share about her book, about National Parks, and about her illustrations. You can find that here: Amber Share turned negative reviews of national parks into an art form.

National Parks

National Parks are key to keeping land safe, protected, preserved, and free (with some charges) for the American people. There are national parks across the United States as well as some of their territories and owned lands.

A national park is a natural park in use for conservation purposes, created and protected by national governments. Often it is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a government declares or owns. Although individual countries designate their own national parks differently, there is a common idea: the conservation of ‘wild nature’ for posterity and as a symbol of national pride.[1] National parks are almost always open to visitors.[2]

The United States established the first “public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people”, Yellowstone National Park, in 1872.[3] Although Yellowstone was not officially termed a “national park” in its establishing law, it was always termed such in practice[4] and is widely held to be the first and oldest national park in the world.[5] However, the Tobago Main Ridge Forest Reserve (in what is now Trinidad and Tobago; established in 1776),[6] and the area surrounding Bogd Khan Uul Mountain (Mongolia, 1778), which were restricted from cultivation to protect surrounding farmland, are seen as the oldest legally protected areas.[7][8] Parks Canada, established on May 19, 1911, became the world’s first national park service.[9]

An international organization, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and its World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), has defined “National Park” as its Category II type of protected areas.[10] According to the IUCN, 6,555 national parks worldwide met its criteria in 2006. IUCN is still discussing the parameters of defining a national park.

National Park – Wikipedia
Landscapes of the Koli National Park in North Karelia, Finland, have inspired many painters and composers, e.g. Jean Sibelius, Juhani Aho and Eero Järnefelt.[12]
(photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

In 1969, the IUCN declared a national park to be a relatively large area with the following defining characteristics:[14]

  • One or several ecosystems not materially altered by human exploitation and occupation, where plant and animal species, geomorphological sites and habitats are of special scientific, educational, and recreational interest or which contain a natural landscape of great beauty;
  • Highest competent authority of the country has taken steps to prevent or eliminate exploitation or occupation as soon as possible in the whole area and to effectively enforce the respect of ecological, geomorphological, or aesthetic features which have led to its establishment; and
  • Visitors are allowed to enter, under special conditions, for inspirational, educative, cultural, and recreative purposes.

In 1971, these criteria were further expanded upon leading to more clear and defined benchmarks to evaluate a national park. These include:

  • Minimum size of 1,000 hectares within zones in which protection of nature takes precedence
  • Statutory legal protection
  • Budget and staff sufficient to provide effective protection
  • Prohibition of exploitation of natural resources (including the development of dams) qualified by such activities as sport, hunting, fishing, the need for management, facilities, etc.

While the term national park is now defined by the IUCN, many protected areas in many countries are called national park even when they correspond to other categories of the IUCN Protected Area Management Definition, for example:[2][15]

While national parks are generally understood to be administered by national governments (hence the name), in Australia, with the exception of six national parks, national parks are run by state governments and predate the Federation of Australia; similarly, national parks in the Netherlands are administered by the provinces.[2] In Canada, there are both national parks operated by the federal government and provincial or territorial parks operated by the provincial and territorial governments, although nearly all are still national parks by the IUCN definition.[16]

In many countries, including Indonesia, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, national parks do not adhere to the IUCN definition, while some areas which adhere to the IUCN definition are not designated as national parks.[2]

Definitions of National Parks – Wikipedia

New Belgium and Subpar Parks Team Up

New Belgium Brewing teaming up with Subpar Parks

From our article: New Belgium Brewing and Subpar Parks Join Up For The Lack Of Wildlife Is Alarming

New Belgium Brewing is teaming up with Subpar Parks to create The Lack of Wildlife is Alarming Pale Ale. This “subpar” pale ale is will be hitting at 6% ABV and will be packaged and sold in 12 oz cans. The can art features Yosemite National Park.

GoodReads Back Cover Description

Before we get into the book review, lets read the back cover description:

Based on the wildly popular Instagram account, Subpar Parks features both the greatest hits and brand-new content, all celebrating 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. Millions of visitors each year enjoy Glacier National Park, but for one visitor, it was simply Too cold for me! Another saw the mind-boggling vistas of Bryce Canyon as Too spiky! Never mind the person who visited the thermal pools at Yellowstone National Park and left thinking, “Save yourself some money, boil some water at home.”

Featuring more than 50 percent new material, the book will include more depth and insight into the most popular parks, such as Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, and Acadia National Parks; anecdotes and tips from rangers; and much more about author Amber Share’s personal love and connection to the outdoors. Equal parts humor and love for the national parks and the great outdoors, it’s the perfect gift for anyone who loves to spend time outside as well as have a good read (and laugh) once they come indoors.
Nominee for Best Humor (2021)
GoodReads Choice Award

First Published August 24th, 2021

Subpar Parks: America’s Most Extraordinary National Parks and Their Least Impressed Visitors – GoodReads

Book Review: Subpar Parks: America’s Most Extraordinary National Parks and Their Least Impressed Visitors by Amber Share

Illustration by Amber Share

The book is a wonderful mis-mash of illustrations of national parks, of one sentence bad reviews, and then lots of key information on each of the national parks in question.

The illustrations are similar to the one on the right and the above (the New Belgium one, as well as the book cover), simple-ish drawings of a major feature of each park in question. They are pretty, effective, minimalist drawings.

The bad reviews in question are quick little one sentence quotes thrown onto of the artwork. The reviews aren’t offensive or vulgar or anything, they are petty and blandish, with things that are usually contradictory or ironic given the location. For example, Sand Dunes the reviewer says is “too much sand”. Or things like “too many bears” or “not enough bears” for parks that had bears in the name. The reviews aren’t elaborate or that crazy really, they are more like petty nit-picks probably by a person who was there for less than an hour viewing the national park in question. Nothing quippable or witty.

Her information on the national parks itself was great. I enjoyed reading about each park, not just the features we commonly think and know about them. The information is really handy for checking out the parks, and inspired me to add more to my list that I might have passed on when making bucket lists of national parks I want to visit.

All in all its a fun little jaunt through different national parks tied in with the theme of illustration on page 1, quip about the review, and then information of the park on page 2; rinse and repeat. Its a wonderful book. Amber Share’s writing is great, and makes me want to visit all of the parks in question, and fully get to explore them and see just how majestic and beautiful they really are (or if they are just “sand” or “just a hole in the ground”).

My GoodReads Rating: ****
My LibraryThing Rating: ****
Global Average GoodReads Rating: 3.97 (as of 1.3.24)

Some More Book Reviews

Some more book reviews for you to check out:

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