Dozens — if not hundreds — of Hudson Valley guidebooks populate the region’s bookstore shelves, so it can be difficult for readers to determine which title best fits their needs. The seventh edition of Hudson Valley & Catskill Mountains: An Explorer’s Guide (Countryman Press, $21.95), written by former Hudson Valley editor Joanne Michaels, is as close to a comprehensive resource as you’re likely to find. The 464-page tome covers dining, lodging, and entertainment in the Valley (as well as Saratoga Springs and Sullivan and Delaware counties). Each listing includes contact information and a detailed description.
Kids will find Valley history’s usual cast of characters — Henry Hudson and Robert Fulton, we’re looking at you — in the children’s book River of Dreams: The Story of the Hudson River (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, $17.99), by Catskill author Hudson Talbott. River of Dreams stands out due to Talbott’s mesmerizing illustrations, laid out in vibrant color over each two-page spread; and the informative forays he makes into less-covered aspects of the Hudson’s history, such as activist Franny Reese’s role in preventing the construction of a hydroelectric pumping station on Storm King Mountain.
The Capital Region’s surging arts scene is quite the comeback story. Chronicling it all during the past seven years has been Times Union arts writer Joseph Dalton. In Artists & Activists: Making Culture in New York’s Capital Region (Troy Book Makers, $17.95), Dalton takes his profiles of the area’s best musicians, painters, dancers, and activists — including offbeat Woodstock composer Peter Schickele and Albany artist/drag queen Kevin Bruce — and compiles them into one provocative and enjoyable read.
Driving down Route 9, it’s hard to believe Rhinebeck is home to hundreds of architecturally diverse buildings. Rhinebeck’s Historic Architecture (History Press, $19.99), by town historian Nancy V. Kelly, proves otherwise. Each of the book’s 10 chapters delves into a distinctive style of the town’s architecture, while photographer Tom Daley provides dozens of images to complement the author’s descriptive writing.
Perhaps the only slice of local history the Quadricentennial celebration has missed is the Valley’s (supposed) run-ins with the paranormal. Catch up on the region’s scary stories with Hudson Valley Haunts: Historic Driving Tours (Schiffer, $16.99) by Orange County writer Linda Zimmerman. The book covers 42 spooky sites in the region stretching from Saratoga to the Tappan Zee Bridge (where Henry Hudson’s ghost ship is said to still patrol the river’s waters).