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The Story of My Boyhoo...
John Muir
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The Story of My Boyhood and Youth

4.13  ·  Rating Details ·  399 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews
John Muir writes his first memoir about his life in Scotland as a boy in a strict and brutal religious family. A glimpse into Scottish country culture is seen through his eyes and his early love of nature is evident. Then the family moves to America and into the backwoods of Wisconsin to help settle the area for farming along with many other Scotch and Irish farmers. His l ...more
Paperback, 312 pages
Published by Book Jungle (first published 1913)
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After reading Alaska Days with John Muir, written by his friend and traveling companion Samuel Young, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Muir's own account of his early life: beginning in East Lothian, Scotland, where he was born in 1838; immigrated with his father and brother to America in 1849; settled in Wisconsin, near Portage, where they broke ground for their new home and farm; and there worked long, hard hours to make a go of things so his mother and siblings could join them. Being a born and r ...more
Oct 17, 2012 Linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book I re-read, this time for a book group, where each student read a different book by a naturalist. They’ve been studying nature writing and the teacher wanted to take them deeper into how the writers were changed by their own environment, thus the group and talk about how we also might be changed by both our reading and our personal experiences. For example, in Muir’s book, I loved the deeply detailed descriptions of all the birds observed in his new home in Wisconsin (he was born i ...more
Apr 22, 2017 Tanvika rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a soul stirring and uplifting, even spiritual experiences I had while going through the wondrous and magical moments of young Muir.
His strict, Christian upbringing, thrashing at home and school couldn't kill the wildness and spirit of living, the young lad had. The thrill of running around, playing 'schooters' with his brother David, climbing lessons at the castle, the fright of the 'dandy doctors' haunting the school are reminiscent of how little kids create their own fantasy worlds, takin
David S.
John Muir: naturalist, humanitarian, inventor, great lover? I know so. John Muir was a fantastic lover; gentle, but a real power house when he needed to be. I remember the first time I visited him at his Northern Wisconsin farm in the peak of summer…
Rivers twisted by, heated all day by the scorching late summer sun. Sometimes, the water laid long and wide across the country, other times, it became forced to pour, chortling, vigorously over mossy boulders. Walking through a patch of Balsam Firs
Muir looks back on his childhood in Scotland and in Wisconsin. From Scotland, where he was until 7, we get the stories of schoolkids fighting and exploring, and of the discipline learned. From Wisconsin, Muir writes an ode to the animals and plants he encountered, as well as his story about growing up. He really focuses on the plants and animals, though -- his mother and sisters immigrate a year after Muir and his father and brothers do, and Muir doesn't bother to tell you much about them. It's ...more
Jill Robbertze
Jul 25, 2015 Jill Robbertze rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a delightful little book about John Muir's early life first in Scotland and later in the US. This man truly delights in nature and his descriptions of his discoveries are beautiful and very engaging. He became one of America's early conservationists and while at University he also created some very interesting inventions. I really enjoyed this book and give it 4.5 stars !!!
Feb 17, 2016 Deb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this book. A wonderful insight into the growing years of an amazing man who was a key player in the creation of our National Parks. One also gets a first person perspective of the early settler's life in the mid west.
Sep 11, 2008 Kenny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was a wonderful! I truly admire how well John Muir respected nature, and what a thinker he was! He really was an amazing person! I can't believe he invented so many things as a child/teenager.
Barry Cunningham
Feb 10, 2013 Barry Cunningham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Actually, the Project Gutenberg edition on Stanza on my iPhone.

I read Muir's The Yosemite last year and found that book and him utterly amazing. Decided to read some more of his works, and this seemed like the logical place to start.

His origins may not have been that unusual for his time, but where he went from there in his late youth and early manhood seem entirely unexpected.

His early life and his narrative fall into three parts: his early youth in Scotland, his emigration to America and adole
Honestly, I only dabbled in this as there was no audio book available. My book club's discussion was fascinating. Only one of 18 people didn't like the book. Everyone else loved it.
Suzan Powers
Aug 24, 2013 Suzan Powers rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love it when I find a book to look forward to reading at bedtime every night and this was one of those! John Muir's first book and a memoir of his childhood in Scotland growing up in the country under a brutally strict father who used the Christian faith as a rod. The early intelligence of Muir is evident as he discusses the educational methods of Scottish fathers to beat learning into the children. His love of nature is early evident and inspiring in his words of observation of the wildlife a ...more
Sep 02, 2008 Ben rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Ben by: Sequoia National Forest giftshop
Shelves: travel
John Muir founded the Sierra Club. The Sierra Club headquarters is on the 2nd floor of the building I work in (85 Second Street), so I get to see all of their published books whenever someone too lazy to walk to the second floor gets on the elevator. Sometimes, when I walk up to the 7th, I hope to see someone there to talk to them about other books like this.

The Story of My Boyhood and Youth was one of the last books John Muir wrote. It was a recollection of his youth back to 5 or 6 years old in
Meghan Fidler
John Muir was one of the first influential environmentalists in the United States. We owe his acts of diligence for the pleasures we see at many parks, like Yosemite Valley and Sequoia National Park. This memoir is another one of the pleasures found in the world that is due to John Muir.
Beginning with a description of his childhood in Scotland, Muir goes on to describe the wealth that was the wilderness in Wisconsin. He is frank about the workload and frank about the nature of life and death on
Nov 15, 2012 Dana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this several years ago and came across a little bit about Muir exploring the Amazon in the book I'm currently reading, "The River of Doubt." What I remember most about this book was his enthusiasm for nature - which I share! The story I most remember is about the passenger pigeons. I found that this book is part of The Project Gutenberg" and found where he talks about these incredible birds and the human acts that led to their extinction.

Not less exciting and memorable was Audubon's wonde
Love it! Stands beside Aldo Leopold's work and makes me miss Wisconsin and the UW.
 Ms. Ewing
Jun 29, 2012 Ms. Ewing rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir

John Muir is familiar to me as an old-time conservationist and old man wandering in the woods. But this is what he wrote about his childhood growing up in Scotland and Wisconsin during the pioneer days. I really enjoyed it. It had a touch of the "Little House on the Prairie" with all the interesting descriptions of everyday life. His father was a real jerk and made him dig a well by chipping through stone for 17 hours a day with poison gas, among other things. But the coolest thing that I didn'
Nov 10, 2014 Holly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adventure
This incredibly keen, articulate man drew me into his childhood so vividly I feel almost that I've just come back home from a brief visit in another place and time. A good place to start I think for delving into John Muir's thoughts because we learn the way he relishes the moments of his life, even during the most exhausting trying times that I could not imagine enduring. Muir's sense of observation is one that I could both appreciate and learn from. This was a beautiful and engaging read.

Sep 09, 2012 Darius rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I chose this book to get a glimpse into frontier life, not knowing that John Muir went on to form the Sierra Club and to become a hero to some environmentalists. This book was a pleasant read about his boyhood years.

Muir's father immigrated from Scotland to Wisconsin, when John was just 11 years old. While the book provides a feel of frontier life, my guess is that there are better alternatives. Much of this book tells of the birds and animals that Muir delighted in learning about around his far
Oct 05, 2012 Gloria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If there was ever a Little House equivalent for pioneering boys, it would be this. Not that the Little House series is gender specific. I love the Scottish accents Muir employs in his writing. :) Fun trying to read through it. I fail most of the time. Quick read! And very insightful for those curious to learn more about Muir's upbringing and how that clearly shaped him to be the man he later was. Spartan diet began early (loved reading that passage about his daily meals for nourishment. I really ...more
Feb 11, 2008 Doug rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a little gem and worth reading.

I never knew John Muir had such mechanical genius. Had he not become a naturalist, he might have been another Edison.

This book makes it abundantly clear that Muir was a lover of nature--and particularly birds--at an early age. Some might tire of the lengthy descriptions of birds, but even if your not an ornithologist you should stick it out and enjoy the little sentimental anecdotes of frontier life found throughout this book.

Toward the end of the Muir
Sep 13, 2013 Bradley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It’s a fabulous book, hilarious at times, deeply thoughtful, and beautifully, beautifully written. He lived in Scotland until he was about 11, then immigrated to rural Minnesota with his super-strict father. Honestly, it’s a wonder he survived his exquisitely rambunctious early childhood and the ridiculously extreme farm labor of his early teens. He also invented incredible things like working clocks–hand-carved out of hickory–having never seen the inside of a clock before! I haven’t found this ...more
Jul 21, 2010 Faith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: natural-history
The introduction of this book suggests that the importance of this autobiographical book by Muir is to show how, although the majority of his boyhood was typical, he overcame great hardships or as David Quammen puts it, "climb[ed:] out of hell." Despite the "typical" boyhood John Muir had, it is the way he describes and writes about it that makes this small, easily overlooked book remarkable. He, like his brothers (and, to a lesser extent, his sisters), grows up surrounded by wilderness, but it ...more
Jun 26, 2010 Brant rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A refreshing memoir about growing up on the Wisconsin frontier. In my opinion, this book should be required reading for all sixth graders. Muir extols the virtue of curiosity, celebrates a day's work, and remains optimistic and upbeat! While Muir's writing is full of insights into 19th-century American frontier culture and early frontier traditions (both themes I am largely interested in), his simple stories about his adventures and inventions captured my imagination and reminded me once again o ...more
Sarah Goodwin
Aug 02, 2013 Sarah Goodwin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Free on my kindle, I picked this up because I love pioneer stories, especially memoirs.

Anyway, I read this in about two days, and thought it was a struggle to stay interested at times (botany and ornithology not being some of my favourite subjects) there were enough interesting facts and experiences in this book to keep me intereseted. For example, I didn't know before about the pigeon culls - which, wow, very gruesome.

At times the writing style was hard to follow, paragraphs seemed to change
Jun 03, 2011 Heather rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Muir is very similar to Aldo Leopold, both in writing- and lifestyle! I felt, though, that the author of the introduction was wrong: he mentioned that taking the stories at face value was a waste of time--that the only way to REALLY enjoy the book & get the most out of it was to think of everything in terms of "rising up out of the pit of Hell that was," basically, "a childhood in WI." I feel that someone reading could do either/or, and still have a great time reading Muir's work. A well-don ...more
Aug 21, 2016 Becky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just reread this book before attending a field trip to John Muir's boyhood farm not far from Portage, Wisconsin on Saturday, August 20, 2016. The outing was sponsored by the Wisconsin Natural Resources Foundation, and we visited several sites in the area where John Muir grew up after coming to Wisconsin from Scotland. Our excellent trip leaders were knowledgeable and passionate about the subject. Rereading the book prior to the trip greatly enriched my appreciation of the sites that I saw. Muir' ...more
Annie Vu
Mar 10, 2015 Annie Vu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autobiography
As a city girl that has relocated to the beautiful Scotland, I felt intrigued by John Muir's life and achievements. This book isa beautiful, honest narration of the his youth, very trying as a typical hard going Scottish farmer's son, but his spirit shone through the whole book. I found new admiration for this great man. Through his eloquent writing, I could almost see the amazing American's nature back in the 19th century with my own eyes. I need to go hiking more :)
Feb 15, 2013 Debbie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2013
This was pretty interesting. Learning of a person's childhood can often change one's original perception of the person. Though Muir seems to know his father loves him, his father has a hard time expressing love and empathy. He would've been a tough man to be raised by. Muir's quest for knowledge and his creativeness were insatiable. Learning of the day to day life of this boy from
Scotland was educational and entertaining.
It seems that ole' John Muir and I had similar childhoods. Different time periods of course. He was more of the pioneer family and I was much more established. However, the hard labor, excessive amounts of outdoor time, and intimate knowledge of a place I think stirred the same kind of thoughts, feelings, and subsequent lifestyle as myself. It was not the most riveting of reads, but it was nice to see what kindred spirits we really are.
Mar 03, 2010 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Considering my idea of Nature is a telephone pole it is kind of odd for me to even be reading this. But I enjoy 19th C autobios, plus his connection to the Midwest makes this interesting reading for me.

Love the story of the loon and the cat. His dad was one mean SOB. The last couple of chapters, where he talks about his inventions and his education, are the most interesting for me.

I have his book on his first visit to the Sierras on order now.
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John Muir (1838 – 1914) was a Scottish-American naturalist, author, and early advocate of preservation of wilderness in the United States. His letters, essays, and books telling of his adventures in nature, especially in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, have been read by millions. His activism helped to preserve the Yosemite Valley, Sequoia National Park and other wilderness areas. The S ...more
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“When I was a child in Scotland, I was fond of everything that was wild, and all my life I've been growing fonder and fonder of wild places and wild creatures. Fortunately, around my native town of Dunbar, by the stormy North Sea, there was no lack of wildness...” 1 likes
“With more than half a million square miles, Alaska ranks number one among with 50 states in the area, and number 50 in population. It still represents the ultimate wilderness, the wildness Muir was always seeking. There, a century ago, he reveled in the beauty and the freedom of this new land, so remote, so aloof, so filled with new experiences. It provided a special satisfaction to one who, to a rare degree, felt an affinity with the wildest of the wilderness.” 0 likes
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