A Novel Perspective

Posted by Nora

So I love reading. I know every academically-inclined person generally does too, but for me, its on the the one thing I would choose to have if stranded on a desert island would be a book level. I can’t live without them! Unfortunately, classes, homework, and work tend to impinge on my personal reading time. With a sad heart, I have to put reading a novel I adore at the bottom of my priority list. Thus, while I am passing my classes and holding down my part-time job, my reading appetite remains unsatiated.

In those precious moments of free time though, I read away! When I can finally get through a book, I then feel lost until I acquire one to read next. When picking out a good read, usually I’d go for something that is as far removed from any semblance of my college student life. Fantasy, romance, mystery, drama- yes, please! But a few weeks ago when I finally got through A Feast for Crows (I <3 you GoT), I decided to pick up a book that had been almost forgotten on my bookshelf, in the somber shadow of my many, bank-account draining textbooks.

The book, titled North Country Challenge, was a Christmas gift from my mom, which I was extremely appreciative of despite my lack of promptness in getting around to read it. Pro-tip- when in doubt, books make great gifts for pretty much any occasion. Or even better- take your gift-receiver out to a cozy, local bookstore, let them make their selection, and buy it for them! Just add coffee/tea and good conversation for an awesome time.

But back to my anecdote, my mom had ever so thoughtfully found this book at a discount book store and gave it to me because it’s author was none other than Ernest Patty. Dr. Patty was a professor of Geology and Mining in UAF’s inaugural year of classes (named the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines back then in 1922), Dean of the College and Head of the School of Mines for ten years, the college’s 3rd president, and namesake of the Patty Center, just to name a few of his notaritities. North Country Challenge is his autobiography, a narrative of his own adventure north to Alaska. Dr. Patty was extremely influential in keeping the college alive during it’s tenuous early years. He ensured that new academic programs were added and enrollment increased, and made countless contributions to the field of mining engineering. Yet, this book was so much more than just his accomplishments.

Through this book, Dr. Patty truly brings the reader back to Alaska as it was in his time- wild, raw, and full of promise. It gave me a deep appreciation for the people who dared to make their homes up here, when it was still such a harsh existence. The first few students of the college are undeniably an inspiration too, they made up a class of 21 and started a legacy of learning and growing in this beautiful place, on the fringe where civilization meets wilderness. I feel that every UAF student should read Dr. Patty’s story or learn about the lives of any of the other amazing individuals who helped found this university.

Here is a picture of my copy of North Country Challenge.


I was blown away when I realized the copy that had found its way to my hands was signed by the author!


Every book that I read leaves a part of itself with me, but this one will definitely have a special place in my book-lover’s heart.

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