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The Outermost House: A Year of Life On The Great Beach of Cape Cod
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The Outermost House: A Year of Life On The Great Beach of Cape Cod

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  1,092 ratings  ·  180 reviews
The seventy-fifth anniversary edition of the classic book about Cape Cod, “written with simplicity, sympathy, and beauty” (New York Herald Tribune)

A chronicle of a solitary year spent on a Cape Cod beach, The Outermost House has long been recognized as a classic of American nature writing. Henry Beston had originally planned to spend just two weeks in his seaside home, but
Paperback, 256 pages
Published July 1st 2003 by Holt Paperbacks (first published 1928)
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I keep this book on my nightstand when I need to transport myself from this world to the natural beauty Beston describes. I love Cape Cod, particularly this Cape Cod, one full of sand and beach grass, salt air and ocean breeze. How many of us would just like to "check out" for awhile? Beston, like Thoreau, did this for a year and chronicled all he saw and felt.
One description is unique to the time it was written. Rather than the traditional Coast Guard stations we are all familiar with, those
Henrique Maia
The world happens everyday, everywhere. We're often forgetful whence we came and we easily dismiss that seemingly distant background which is always there – nature.

Henry Beston is the willing witness of a year round experience in the sands of Cape Cod beach. Humbled by the very spectacle of change, the author becomes one of us, and through him we see, listen, feel, smell and become united with the majesty of a world thriving with life. We follow the old rhythm of the earth as it follows the Sun
Oct 07, 2008 Sally rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who like solitude
Shelves: topten
as I read this book my mind was totally living Beston's year in that cabin on the beach.It is amazing to notice all the changes in the enviornment throughout the year when separated from populous man and his harried life and man made creations. I read this book about once a year.
Mar 28, 2011 Lori rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Lori by: Sally
Since I read on a good friend's review of this book that this was one of her all-time favorite books and I had never even heard of it, I figured it was time to check this one out. I'm a midwestern gal living hundreds of miles from the nearest beach, I've never been to Cape Cod and it makes me sad that at the rate the world is changing, I probably won't ever get to explore the Cape that Harry Beston writes about in this book.

This is a quiet novel about a year the author spent, alone, in a house o
Carol Bachofner
Oct 28, 2007 Carol Bachofner rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: EVERYone!
Shelves: regional, nonfiction
I first read this book in 1968. Since then (altho I have my original copy which sold for $1.45) I have purchased dozens to give away. It is ostensibly a nature, wildlife book that rivals Walden. However, I found it to be closer to poetry than any other prose I have read. I go back to it again and again. Henry Beston's family is (was) very literary. His wife, Elizabeth Coatsworth was a wonderful writer and their daughter, Kate Barnes, was once Poet Laureate of Maine. She is elderly and still live ...more
When I told my sister I was reading this book on a recent trip to Cape Cod, she asked me how many times I’d read it. She remembers me purchasing this 1969 edition when we were kids. I guessed I’d read it in entirety at least 4 times. However, an unusual feature of this book is that you can open it at random, read any chapter, and it will tell a complete story. I have read many chapters this way throughout the years.

This is the most poetic book ever written about Cape Cod. Henry Beston is a care
Oct 15, 2008 Jeana rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: naturalists
I just want to note what I feel when I'm reading this: peace. Amidst the hurrying people and noise around me, when I read about the birds on the beach, I feel like I'm there and that I'm walking down a lonely beach watching and listening to the birds overhead.

Yes, this book is about nothing, but it's a peaceful nothing that helped me relax. There isn't really a storyline or plot, so if that's something you need in a book, then this is not the book for you. It's merely one man's year of watching
Who says there aren't any more Henry David Thoreaus? Okay, granted, Beston wrote this in the late 1920's, but still...
An incredibly fascinating description of the daily observations and musings of someone living on the far eastern tip of Cape Cod. His keen eye and enchanting retelling of nature's annual cycles is beautiful in and of itself. But what I found most incredible was his fiancee's insistance on his doing this (living alone for 1 year in this "shack," in order to complete this book) bef
Beston writes with a passion matched only by his respect for nature; for every beauty there is a struggle, a tragedy. His celebration of a year on Cape Cod includes weather, seasons, ornithology, the townsfolk and Coast Guard employees, reveling in the strengths and pride in all equally. This is not Walden; Beston does not seek to isolate himself from people, but writes of the whole experience life and nature has to offer. The writing is more like a journal, as it is not bogged down in too much ...more
The experience of being part of the natural world has allowed Beston to write vivid descriptions from the wonders of plant life in the dunes to thunderstorms on the cape. Yet he felt himself limited. "Creation is here and now. So near is man to the creative pageant, so much a part is he of the endless and incredible experiment, that any glimpse he may have will be but the revelation of a moment, a solitary note heard in a symphony thundering through debatable existences if time." (p.216)

My siste
Lovely book and stunning example of just being, and living in the present moment. The Outermost House is meditative in transforming the reader to being on the coast and experiencing the elemental wonders... Watching wave after wave roll in, of their formation, sound, and way the light from the sun and its position interacts with the waves. Of the wind and how acutely its presence or lack there of, is felt. Of storms and how violent the sea can become. The endless entertainment of birds, and resp ...more
Kyle  Tresnan
I expected to hate this book. I should have hated this book. The Outermost House is a book about nothing; reading it is like watching a porn movie with no nudity in it. Henry Beston lives by himself in a house on Cape Cod for a year. That is as much intrigue as you will find in The Outermost House. Beston goes on about birds for about 45 pages. You'll think he's done with birds, and then BAM a whole other section about birds. Birds birds birds.

But Beston writes pretty. You get the feeling that
Written back in the 1920s when the author stayed in a little cottage right on Cape Cod. He wrote down his observations and reflections of life on the beach for an entire year. The book starts slow but by the middle I was hooked. I especially enjoyed his descriptions of the beach and the birds in winter.

Rachel Carson said that this book was the only one that influenced her writing and it is considered one of the classics of American nature writing.

"Winter is no negation, no mere absence of summer
I bought this book years ago on the recommendation of my father, had never read it and finally listened to it. Like all great naturalists, Beston is a supreme noticer of everything around him. His writing is lyrical but also rooted in the quotidian. I particularly liked his descriptions of waves. So glad I finally read this and look forward to re-reading it. Thanks, Dad.
Somewhere in ocean, perhaps a thousand miles and more from this beach, the pulse beat of earth liberates a vibration, an ocean
This book was just okay for me, I guess I connect better with a book that tells a stronger story. I am amazed that Henry Beston was a mere 35 years old when he stayed at his beach house in Cape Code and it was in the 1920s. I cannot image living in a cottage for a year without a bathroom. No bathroom would bother me more than the solidarity.
Rhonda Lane
Did you love or hate "Walden Pond?" Good. You might love this one. Beston spent a year living in a house on the Atlantic shore of Cape Cod in the 1920s. If you're consider Cape Cod a tourist-trap with quaint shops, flower be-decked cottages and mini golf courses worthy of Vegas, then this book will be a treat for you. This is the wild, driven-by-the-whims-of-ocean, Mother Nature at her most vengeful and capricious Cape Cod in which you feel the wind whipping your hair while waves pound the beach ...more
My husband actually gave me this book in 1998. It took me a while to actually read it. I put it on my nightstand so I would see it every night and think how sweet he was.

It is a good book. Written long ago by a man who planned on staying at the shore only two weeks--he stayed quite a while longer. He became fascinated by the beauty and mystery of the earth and sea. It makes you think deeply about many things we take so for granted. It makes you aware of how oblivious we have become to the wonde
The Outermost House is technically classified as nature writing and memoir, but it's so much more than that. It's almost poetry. Henry Beston intended to spend two weeks at his small cottage on Cape Cod, but found that at the end of two weeks he was compelled to stay, and lived on the Cape for a year, writing about the birds, the changes in season, the fish, and all the natural rhythms he observed from his little home, the Fo'castle. The writing is of luminous quality, and I found myself lingeri ...more
Would like to have seen the Cape back when this was written. Pleasant view of the natural history of the beach and dunes through the seasons. Especially liked his observation that people (even then) no longer embrace the night but rather fear it and keep it a bay with lights. He made me long to see the peace and beauty of true night with no human lights to disturb it. The view out my bedroom window is destroyed by mercury lights from a nearby plaza. Also enjoyed learning about how the Coast Gua ...more
Mark Mortensen
Beston, like Thoreau, very aptly describes his year of solitary life through all four seasons in a remote cabin. In the early 1960’s I had the pleasure of spending a weekend in a cabin similar to Beston’s in roughly the same vicinity on the dunes of Cape Cod above a remote stretch of sand and sea. The Cape Cod National Seashore obtained Beston's intimate cabin and as years passed it fell down and succumbed to nature. Today, if willing, one can find a way to sleep under the stars along the shore ...more
Beston's book would make a great beach read. The Outermost House describes the (literal and figurative) ebb and flow of his year spent living in a small cabin on Cape Cod, and does so while conveying a sense of time and patience often absent in modern life, and regularly missing from modern nature writing. Beston writes less about what he does (he covers a year in only 200 pages long) and more about the occurrences and phenomena he witnesses, throughout which one recognizes the quietude that all ...more
In 1927/28, Naturalist, Henry Beston has a small home built on a large sand dune beside the Atlantic Ocean on what is the forearm of Cape Cod. Here, he plans to study the changes the four seasons bring to fowl, fauna and people who make this place their home, even if only for a season or two. While living a solitary life, Beston documents all he observes. By the latter portion of the book the observations get a little redundant and a tad dull for the novice birder like myself. I preferred to rea ...more
Mike Godek
Well organized, naturalist perspective of the Cape Cod seashore in the late 1920s. Beston uses a great deal of vivid imagery to describe the dunes, birds, coast guardsmen, and shipwrecks.
Erik Graff
Jul 23, 2014 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Martin and his kind
Recommended to Erik by: Walter Wallace
Shelves: travel
This is a book I would never think of reading, a book I'd pass over on any shelf. I only read it because an old friend went to the trouble of mailing it to me with a letter of recommendation. He, unlike myself, has had some acquaintance with Cape Cod, the easternmost portion of the United States. He compared it to my own familiar beaches of the eastern coast of Lake Michigan.

I wasn't expecting much. I was pleasantly surprised. Somewhat reminiscent of Thoreau's Walden memoir, but better written,
Henry Beston's description of his year on Cape Cod's Great Beach reminds me of Aldo Leopold's "Sand County Almanac" and John Janovy's "Dunwoody Pond," which is high praise. Beston shares Leopold's and Janovy's thoughtfulness, elegenat writing, and natural concerns. "The outermost House" will be worth rereading.
L.A. Starks
This book should be required reading in every school. It is that good; the focus on the life of the Cape over a year is captivating. I never realized descriptions of birds, and oceans could be so varied and expressive.
An undervalued work of both American nature writing and early modernism. Feels, at times, like D.H. Lawrence. Beston's observations on the fauna and capricious weather of Cape Cod are peerless.
In 1928, Henry Beston decided to spend a year in a little house on the beach at Cape Cod. This is the book he wrote about his year on the beach. Reading it made me realize how very unobservant I am. I was impressed by his awareness of the world around him (of course, there were few distractions in that time and at that place!) and his lyrical descriptions. Could you describe a wave, then describe how it varies from other waves, and how its sound is different at various times? Imagine doing that ...more
Growing up on Cape Cod as I did, being a sensitive and contemplative introvert, and one who gets her spirituality from nature. This book touched me.
The premise of living alone on Cape Cod for a year back in the 1920's seemed interesting enough to pick up and read this book. Some of the writing was quite poetic and some as dry as a naturalists would be. But overall his descriptions of the birds, tides, skies, dunes, phosphorescence of the surf and sand, storms or tempests as he calls them were delightful indeed.
"Years ago, while camping on this beach north of Nauset, I went for a stroll along the top of the cliff at break of dawn. Though th
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Henry Beston was an American writer and naturalist, best known as the author of The Outermost House, written in 1925.
More about Henry Beston...
Northern Farm Herbs and the Earth The Firelight Fairy Book The Best of Beston: A Selection from the Natural World of Henry Beston from Cape Cod to the St. Lawrence Especially Maine; The Natural World of Henry Beston from Cape Cod to the St. Lawrence

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“We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.” 93 likes
“We patronize the animals for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they are more finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other Nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time.” 72 likes
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