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Seeds: One Man's Serendipitous Journey to Find the Trees That Inspired Famous American Writers from Faulkner to Kerouac, Welty to Wharton
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Seeds: One Man's Serendipitous Journey to Find the Trees That Inspired Famous American Writers from Faulkner to Kerouac, Welty to Wharton

3.10  ·  Rating Details  ·  99 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
From the wooded road made of golden hemlock running past L. Frank Baum's childhood home to the lonely stump of Scout's oak in Harper Lee's Alabama, author Richard Horan gathers tree seeds—and stories—from the homes of America's most treasured authors. At once a heartfelt paean to literature and a wise, funny, and uplifting account of one man's reconnection with nature, See ...more
ebook, 384 pages
Published April 19th 2011 by HarperCollins e-books
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At times quite enjoyable, at times very frustrating. Perhaps there was a bit too much serendipity in the quest. I did enjoy learning more about some of this country's famous writer's and their homes but too often that seemed to be upstaged by the author's antics as he gathered the seeds he sought or visited with friends. Instead of being the vehicle for learning more, Horan became the subject. It seemed as though this book wasn't quite sure what it wanted to be nor was Horan sure of his role.
I really wanted to like this book, but the author's voice kept getting in the way. Rather than focus on the writers and their homes and surroundings, the focus is on him collecting seeds. At times, the voice is too self-satisfied when a more distant tone was more called for (the Walden Pond episode, for example).

Early on he says that "no trespassing" signs won't stop him, yet later they do; we also get quite a lot on how he responded to the work of Robert Frost, but his personal response to Kris
Aug 19, 2014 Jennifer rated it it was ok
I believe it is easy for a writer to be carried away by his own thoughts and reflections. It was the publisher who should have told Horan when to stop on the personal anecdotes and steer him in the right direction.

The basic idea behind this book was a great one. Since the lifetime of a tree is longer than that of a human’s, Horan’s approach to trees is that they are beings that have relationships with those people who lived around them. Some of these people being great historical people and we c
Sarah Joyce Bryant
*It is important to note that my review is based on the uncorrected proof.

Seeds covers author Richard Horan’s trek across America in an attempt to collect seeds from the trees of some of his favorite authors. When I was first made aware of this book, I couldn’t wait to read it. The concept sounded fascinating. For the most part, it is a great book and provides a lot of interesting information. However, there are some things that are problematic.

The book seems to alternate between two voices – Ho
Jul 27, 2012 Kate rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir-biography
If "writing a book is like climbing Mt. Everest," as the author remarks in his acknowledgements, then the tiny fragment of us who have actually experienced the world's highest mountain top can nod our heads in approval. This may or may not include Horan himself. Horan may not have witnessed the life cycles and growth habits of many of the trees he visits in his book, and he may not have delved very deeply into researching the famous folks he talks about, but one thing is for certain: he successf ...more
Feb 06, 2012 Julia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I was looking forward to this seemingly interesting project of collecting seeds from trees associated with famous American authors. His prologue seemed very respectful of trees, which are one of my favorite lifeforms. After all, Horan is an English teacher, book reviewer, etc.

However, as I began to notice, the book is more about HIM than the seeds OR the authors. Plus many of the seedlings from the seeds simply died since he didn't know what to do with them. If Brian Sayers, president of the New
Jun 26, 2011 Petrea rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-on-kindle
Megan gave me this book and it was a perfect fit for me--a book about plants and American writers. The author undertook various journeys to visit the homes and writing places of a number of authors--and to collect seeds from the trees growing on site or nearby. He imagines the various writers being influenced by the trees they looked at, sat under, and possibly even planted. He also threw in a few Jazz musicians and historical people such as Washington and Jefferson for good measure.

He visited
Jun 13, 2011 Gaby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Seeds is a lifelong reader's tribute to American authors. For Horan, visiting the author's homes and the places that may have inspired them is a pilgrimage. His account of the trees and landscape that he finds is a special sort of literary travelogue. In many ways, Seeds seems like a book perfect for the author who describes himself as "a transient most of my life, I have a knack for bonding with any given locale. I need only wander around a place for a little while to feel a keen sense of belo ...more
I've been plodding through this book for a month, because I'm the type of person who's determined to finish a book unless it's completely terrible or boring or both. I finally finished it today. This book was challenging for me. I was disappointed to be so bored by/frustrated with a book with such a promising premise. Basically, the author sees trees as a sort of hybrid of witnesses, guideposts, and inspirational figures in our lives. He is moved by the memories of his own special trees from chi ...more
Apr 03, 2013 Tuck rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: natural-history
ah, author horan has a brilliant idea to travel to important writers in the usa and collect seeds/nuts from the trees that could have touched the lives of those living by them. his #1 target were mature trees when the author lived in the house, so at melville's house in pittsfield mass. 1850-1863 he finds some huge white pines (and he thinks perhaps they were planted by melville, but alas, it's just a passing thought and horan does not delve into the the siviculture of the thing, like why white ...more
May 20, 2011 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Published by Harper Perennial of Harper Collins Publishing in New York, “Seeds” by Richard Horan describes one man’s inspired journey to collect seeds from trees that existed during the lifetimes of literary and historical figures of great importance.

Beginning with Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain and William Faulkner, Horan describes not only the natural surroundings of the land on which these historic giants once inhabited, but offers personal details of the people as well.

Throughout the course of
3 1/2 Stars

I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

I got pretty much what I expected from the book. Some fun antidotes about his travels, interesting tidbits about the people and/or area that he visited, and information about the trees that he harvested seeds from. On the whole, I enjoyed the journey with him with one exception. There were moments when he seemed a bit condescending toward some of the people he met up with, which rubbed me the wrong way, and robbed me of full e
Aug 16, 2013 Michael rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The idea for the book was great, although the title is inaccuarate. It isn't really about trees that inspired famous writers, it is about trees somehow associated with those writers, and other famous historical figures. The trees might be on the property where the person's home was located, for example. Still, it is quite enjoyable to visit those places and to think about the idea that trees that live for a hundred or more years become witnesses to a lot of history. He made interesting selection ...more
Aug 08, 2012 Dona rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a cool idea for a book--in fact, wish I'd thought of it first. Travel around the United States, visiting homes and other sites that were once associated with famous authors and collect seeds from foliage that was probably around during the authors' lifetimes. Then germinate and plant the seeds yourself, creating a kind of tribute forest. But Richard Horan is a total cheeseball. He's got that high school teacher earnestness going on. (I know because I sheepishly recognized it in myself a ...more
Apr 24, 2011 Steph rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: firstreads
Seeds is a chronicle of Richard Horan’s journey to gather tree seeds from the homes of the authors, philosophers, and social figures who’ve inspired his life. His journey offers snapshots of the lives of fascinating artists and places, as well as an inspired and conscientious message of the value of our tall, green companions.
Seeds introduces us to the small towns, bustling city streets, and reclusive country homes that artists like Kerouac, Baum, Miller, Thoreau, and Jackson once resided in.
Sara Habein
(This is one of those times I wish I had half-stars because this is more of a 2.5)

I'm with Horan on the interesting nature of his project, and the potential it has for reforesting the descendants of old trees, as well as reminding us that some moments cannot be contained to a "sterile" museum. However, I wish Seeds were a better book. He needed to either go the straight history route, or — as I suspect straight history would be difficult for him to write — he needed to be more complete with the
May 30, 2011 Anubis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Richard Horan's book is a fascinating read and his dedication to preserving history by collecting seeds of the trees associated with great writers or famous people and events is admirable. I could have done without some of the asides, which were at times distracting, but for the most part I enjoyed his writing style. However, I couldn't quite understand why he took such offense at having to pay the occasional entrance fee or take a tour of the various estates before collecting the seeds that hol ...more
May 02, 2011 G rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Horan does a brilliant job reliving his cross-county adventure, collecting seeds from the trees of his heros, such as Willa Cather, Eudora Welty, Ken Kesey, Robert Frost, Flannery O’Connor, Jack Kerouac, Edith Wharton, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hellen Keller and Truman Capote. I honestly felt like I was along for the trip while I was reading this book. What an adventure he had! I’m so jealous–I would have loved to have written a book about collecting the seeds of famous trees, or at least traveled ac ...more
May 02, 2014 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting account of a very personal odyssey. Background information on why certain trees were chosen as observers of history is fascinating.
Aug 06, 2011 Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any writer, every horticulturist, people looking for hope for the world's trees
Recommended to Anne by: library
As a horticulturist, and I enjoy reading, this book was a real gift for me. The incongruity of the project seemed a stretch throughout the book. But the author kept at it, visiting the homes or locations where primarily authors got their inspiration by living near a special tree. Horan took bits of the soil in order to root the seeds. The project at home must have been daunting! Who has room for a forest in little containers? There's just so much windowsill space! I won't spoil it by revealing t ...more
Christine Bowles
Jul 29, 2013 Christine Bowles rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nook
As a writer, reader, and pagan I picked up this book with unbridled interest, and while it was not everything that I expected, it was still a great read. I was able to enjoy this while on my vacation traveling from TX to Cali and often found myself looking up into the trees with curiousity and wonder after finishing each new chapter. This book has given me ideas of my own and I look forward to utilizing his list of places to go for seeds!
Oct 31, 2014 Jill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Since I am a tree lover AND a book lover, this book intrigued me. It is one man's quest to collect seeds from trees of famous writers (and some musicians and others) homes. He travels across the country to do this and tries to capture the feeling the writer must have felt growing up in their homes with these trees. Along the way he tells great little stories about the authors and about the trees.

A nice little book.
Dec 29, 2013 Matt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good research, good collection - just started to all run together after a bit. Definitely a book I can see myself going back to, though, if in search of specific information.

[3.5 stars because the research part is cool, even if the author's voice was a bit irritating and over the top.]
Nov 10, 2014 Shannon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This has to be one of my new favorite authors! I absolutely loved this book and the premise behind of it. I don't know how many pages of notes I actually took. Cannot wait to own my own copy.
The spirit of this book is right up my alley, as the author searches for tangible connections to writers (and a few historic figures/places) who've touched his life. I would say this is not just a work of literature, but also a lifelong project. I learned a lot about the lives of these authors and that I need to read more!
This book was a great idea that failed to reach its potential. It was over-written, and his descriptions of some of the places made it seem like he'd never read the authors' books. It was particularly sad to me when he misrepresented a place I knew and loved. I really wanted this to be a better book than it was.
Jun 19, 2012 Monica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This inspired me to go back and re-read (or read for the first time, in some cases), the authors mentioned in the book. The concept of collecting and propagating seeds from "America's witness trees" is a great one; the writing is not strong, though, uneven at best.
Jul 20, 2013 Steve rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Word choice aside - "Ogling the arboreal splendiforae towering above my clown-short car" is not the most tortured sentence I ran across - this book provides a fun way of engaging in a conversation about and authors, and trees as witness to history
Apr 22, 2011 Sherry marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I received my First Reads giveaway copy in the mail this week. Being one who loves trees, I feel a profound influence in my own life from the trees that have surrounded my living. I am very interested to read what Richard Horan has to say.
Debra Hale-Shelton
A good, informative and enjoyable read that combines literature, botany and interesting tidbits about the lives of some of our country's more famous authors and others. I'll have a longer review later this week at
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Win 1 of 3 copies of Seeds by Richard Horan 1 5 May 09, 2011 10:16PM  
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