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My First Summer in the Sierra
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My First Summer in the Sierra

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  2,455 ratings  ·  177 reviews
Picturesque descriptions and sketches by one of America's most important and influential naturalists describes the author's 1869 stay in California's Yosemite River Valley and the Sierra Mountains. Muir's engaging journal describes majestic vistas, flora and fauna, as well as the region's other breathtaking natural wonders. 21 black-and-white illustrations.
Paperback, 192 pages
Published January 20th 2007 by Canongate Books (first published 1911)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jason Koivu
Jun 16, 2014 Jason Koivu rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: good-hearted folk
Recommended to Jason by: the trees
Why would I read this? For one, it takes place in my hood. Two, it's by John Muir, the famous Scottish/American naturalist and founder of the Sierra Club, which saved national treasures like Yosemite and the Sequoia National Park.

Without Muir this might no longer exist as it does to this day...

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If it weren't for Muir these living trees, some of which have been here longer than the pyramids, may have been cut down...

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To look at a map of the United States, one would get the impression that moving we
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Patrick Gibson
Listen to Bach, Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 – this is how you will feel while reading John Muir. Exhilarated. Joyous. Passionate. Alive.

This book is never far from my reach. It is my inspiration for life.

Take a few minutes and read a sample:

“Here, we are camped for the night, our big fire, heaped high with rosiny logs and branches, is blazing like a sunrise, gladly giving back the light slowly sifted from the sunbeams of centuries of summers; and in the glow of that old sunlight how impressively
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Kathy
I vacillated between being completely absorbed in this book to being bored out of my mind. I couldn't place my finger on it at first, but I quickly figured out what my issue was. While I very much enjoyed Muir's description and narration of the animals he saw during his camping, I had zero interest in his descriptions of the trees and plants. The journal is split pretty much 50/50 between the two, so I flip flopped between being interested and disinterested as he switched focus.

I continued readi
...more
Tina Cipolla
This book was excellent. It covers John Muir's first summer in the Sierra Mountains. I love reading books where I can see life at another point in time through someone else's eyes. For me, the most fascinating parts of the book were his encounters with the Native Americans. His reportage on these encounters are honest, discomforting and sometimes a bit frightening--and they have bear no resemblence the politically correct images of Native Americans you get in today's scrubbed history of these en ...more
Cee
My First Summer in the Sierra is a journal, not a novel. As a journal, it garners an A+++ from me.

John Muir's wonderfully descriptive account is a work of art, a labor of love. And it poses the question how can we have become so technologically advanced and yet we have lost the basic skills of journalling? How lamentable.

I deeply appreciate John Muir's prose. It is way above novels that try to tackle the natural world but fall short.

This read is for anyone who has gone to Yosemite National Park
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Stephen
John Muir became a tireless advocate of conservation, a vocal proponent of creating national parks to protect this country’s great untouched western wild places. But, before that, he had to discover them for himself. He grew up on an improvised farm in Wisconsin with a domineering Calvinist father. He escaped as soon as he could.

Leaving home, he first became a walker and then a writer. He made his first trip into the Sierra Nevada Mountains in 1869 as the rest of the country was just beginning t
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William
Jul 29, 2009 William rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bryson Patterson
This I suppose was my first book by a naturalist and I enjoyed it. Detailing his own trip to Yosemite as a sheep herder during the summer of 1869, the book is a celebration of Yosemite. I felt a little envy for his unabashed use of exclamation points throughout. He's truly excited--wandering the meadows, climbing the domes, describing plant and animal life, drinking "champagne" water--and isn't restrained in showing it. The enthusiasm is palpable and I was glad to be reading it while in Yosemite ...more
Nick Klagge
I have considered myself a big John Muir fan for a while, but this is easily the best thing I've read by him, and it's what I would recommend to anyone new to him. It's extremely accessible and is just what it says on the cover--a diary account of the first summer Muir spent in the Sierra (Tuolumne Meadow area), as some sort of supervisor to a shepherd taking a herd of sheep up into the mountains. (Muir does virtually no discernible work over the course of the book.) It was especially nice for m ...more
Kent
I suspect there is a good possibility that John Muir's My First Summer in the Sierra was on the book shelf in my childhood home in California. He was, after all, highly regarded by my parents and the home was filled with books of all types and genre. But, I do not remember it nor have I ever read anything written by John Muir, until this 100th Anniversary Illustrated Edition caught my attention.

Muir's account of his 1869 adventure in and around the Yosemite Valley of the Sierra Nevada range is p
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joey
A wonderful account. But note that this is a diary. Do not expect it to be "action" in diary's clothing.

Speaking of sheep, this diary follows John Muir's first summer in the Sierra mountains in California as a sheep herder. (Later, I have read, Muir lobbied against allowing sheep to graze in national parks.) Muir pities the pitiful sheep and is put off by their devouring grazing and the commercialism that would promote it:
They cannot hurt the trees, though ... should the woolly locusts [lol!] be
...more
Scott
This short book is an account of naturalist John Muir's first summer in what would later be Yosemite National Park. He worked as a sheepherder, moving a flock of about 250 sheep from meadow to meadow during a few summer months. His only duties seem to be bread baking and rounding up errant sheep, which leaves him plenty of time to appreciate the wilderness. He is a knowledgeable and infectious writer about nature, and the book is full of wise observations and wonder about the plants, animals, an ...more
Kristen
Muir's enthusiasm for the Sierras is evident on every page. I would be convinced by him even if I hadn't seen the Sierras for myself. It is a good book to indulge in if you want to imagine that you have a summer to spend hiking in the mountains. The descriptions of trees and clouds are sometimes redundant, but there are lots of keen notes on natural history and interesting human or animal encounters. I particularly liked the story of the shepherd who thought he could scare off a mother bear (wit ...more
Jamie
Beautiful and inspiring. I just love Muir's personality. His outlook on the world is so close to my own. I feel like I can really related to his writings. Themes that make sense to me: the natural world as sacred; God speaking to us through nature; spirituality coming to us mostly through the mundane and canny, but with occasional, apparently supernatural experiences that serve to confuse as much as anything.

My favorite passage from the book is Muir's description of going to see the falls:


I too
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Emily
Absolutely stunning, Nature with a capital N! I have always admired the work of John Muir and what he stood for but this is the first of his books that I have read. I am surprised at how wonderful and accessible the writing is, he had such an enthusiasm for the natural world that you can not help but be swept up in the joyful discoveries he makes on each page.
Best to be read with a good field guide for trees and flowers at hand so as to have the full effect of the descriptions, how splendidly he
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Shannon
Quite out of the blue is Muir's hilarious description of the shepherd's overalls, which the shepherd never takes off. Collecting grease from his meat sack and then pollen, insects, pine needles etc, the overalls "wear thick instead of thin" and become a sort of microcosmic museum of Yosemite. I would have read the whole book just for that one page description. Too bad those overalls aren't in a museum somewhere.
Lastly, be prepared to pine for smoky fires and endless days of lazy hiking while re
...more
Connor McCarthy
Beautiful book, Johns love for nature is absolutely contagious. Cant wait to be back in the sierras!
Rift Vegan
oh yeah! I just loved the journal format... very much reminiscent of Thoreau's journals!!!

John Muir wrote this book (or edited his journals) about 40 years after the fact. And, *smiles*, he expresses joy and elation every single day. Even when it rains, he is exceedingly happy!

Which makes me wonder if Muir is one of those always happy people that I would have to strangle if I meet them in real life! :) Or maybe it's just rose coloured glasses, years after the fact. *smiles*

Anyway, I enjoyed th
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John Nelson
In 1869, a California sheep rancher hired a young drifter named John Muir to help take a flock of sheep to the high country for summer pasture. In 1912, Muir, by then well-known as a pioneering conservationist, wilderness guide, and opponent of the Hetch-Hetchy dam, published this recollection of his First Summer in the Sierra.

Muir's employer apparently did not have much for him to do, for Muir spent the bulk of his time wandering over the mountains and observing the scenery, wildlife, and, espe
...more
Kyla
My First Summer in the Sierra is the journal John Muir kept of his visit to Yosemite as a sheep herder during the summer of 1869. In his free time under the loose employment of the shepherd Pat Delaney, Muir explored the forests and granite peaks and recorded his days in a series of notebooks, which he later published as this book in 1911.

Overall, this was an okay book and I was surprised to find that Muir’s writing style is very modern. I had expected more of the extravagant, wordy prose I asso
...more
Marlène
Voilà une bonne surprise! Un texte de référence pour bon nombre de naturalistes contemporains, datant de 1869, sans difficulté de langue (si on ne compte pas les noms d'espèces animales, végétales et minérales en latin) et d'un enthousiasme contagieux. On ne peut qu'apprécier l'émerveillement de Muir devant la créativité de la Nature, devant l'incroyable variété des paysages de la Sierra Nevada qu'il nomme joliment Range of Light, et sa capacité à conter les mésaventures de moutons et de leurs t ...more
Angela
An inspiring account of Ye Father of American Conservationism John Muir's blissed-out trip through Yosemite in the summer of 1869.

Brimming with 19th century Romantickal feelings about Nature and the sublime, this book is really great if you're either already an outdoors-person, or even a proto-outdoors-person. His enthusiastic descriptions are so inspiring that they make you want to put down your Kindle, put on your hiking boots, book flight tickets, and go hike the eponymous trail RIGHT NOW. I
...more
Jodyschro01
Reading the anniversary edition with color pictures of the things and places Muir writes about was really special. Muir's writing is polished and smooth. I found myself having to look up meanings of words he uses. I used my I - pad to look up many flowers and trees he talks about which really added to my enjoyment of the book. It helps if you have been to Yosemite but, if you haven't, the book will surely convince you to go! Muir's enthusiasm is contagious. He went to the Sierra's with a friend' ...more
Chris Casey
My interest in the California Sierra's was sparked by reading 'Wild', and when John Muir was mentioned in the book, I realized that I had never read anything by Muir, and maybe I should. After all, anyone considered to be the 'Father of America's National Parks', as well as being the founder of the Sierra Club, is alright with me. Browsing his writings, the one that jumped out at me was 'My First Summer in the Sierra', in which Muir described his explorations as a shepherd taking a herd of sheep ...more
Bracken
Before I begin, I feel have to explain that I love nature. So much that I have dedicated my life to it. I am a field botanist/plant taxonomist by both education and profession.

That being said, I expected so much more from John Muir. Granted this was my first exposure to his writings, but I was completely underwhelmed. I felt like his descriptions of the beautiful things of the world were drab and quite cliche. I don't mean global cliche, but he described the same things over and over. I tried t
...more
Jean
I love JOhn Muir but this one was a little to vague for me. I was looking for more of his big stories...this didn't have them
Matthew Talbert
This book really inspired me to go visit the high Sierras. Muir's descriptions of the animal life and general landscape are particularly good. I admit, the descriptions of some of the plant life got a little tedious. Perhaps it would have been better to read a book with illustrations, as my version did not. Another annoyance is Muir taking the idea of nature being perfect way too far...in his telling, wild animals and plants are always healthy, a very unrealistic view. Still, it is a great book ...more
Kevin
The idea of reading seemingly endless descriptions of plants and landforms, although partially interesting, isn't my idea of an easy read... and it isn't... this wasn't much of a page turner. However, after finishing this book, I felt longing for more. Muir makes the mundane exciting and the beautiful scenery he sees and describes simply breathtaking for the reader. His journey with the sheep herders is sprinkled with funny stories and interesting events and his writings have added a visit to th ...more
Tim
Aug 14, 2007 Tim rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: granola eaters
Thought it would be entertaining, but it ended up being an exact copy of his journal. BORING.
Cathleen O
each page, each paragraph, is a meditation on nature
RJ Robledo
John Muir's importance to the preservation of America's wilderness treasures cannot be overestimated. With this book, he called attention to the beauty of the Sierra Nevada, causing America to view the land as a potential commercial endeavor.

Much better praise of him and his work has been uttered by much more capable people than I. All I can say is that this book is the first one I lost myself in as a child, where I forgot I was reading and actually saw with my own eyes the gentle wilderness of
...more
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John Muir (/mjʊər/; April 21, 1838 – December 24, 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 a ...more
More about John Muir...
Nature Writings: The Story of My Boyhood and Youth / My First Summer in the Sierra / The Mountains of California / Stickeen / Essays Travels in Alaska The Mountains of California The Wilderness World of John Muir A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf

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“Another glorious Sierra day in which one seems to be dissolved and absorbed and sent pulsing onward we know not where. Life seems neither long nor short, and we take no more heed to save time or make haste than do the trees and stars. This is true freedom, a good practical sort of immortality.” 193 likes
“We are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us.” 156 likes
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