Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “We Took to the Woods” as Want to Read:
We Took to the Woods
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

We Took to the Woods

4.19  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,183 Ratings  ·  177 Reviews
In her early thirties, Louise Dickinson Rich took to the woods of Maine with her husband. They found their livelihood and raised a family in the remote backcountry settlement of Middle Dam, in the Rangeley area. Rich made time after morning chores to write about their lives. We Took to the Woods is an adventure story, written with humor, but it also portrays a cherished dr ...more
Paperback, 325 pages
Published April 19th 2007 by Down East Books (first published January 1st 1942)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about We Took to the Woods, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Kim i have not finished the book yet, still working my way through. I do like it. the author uses great imagery and details. I like to learn about not…morei have not finished the book yet, still working my way through. I do like it. the author uses great imagery and details. I like to learn about not only life in maine but also in the 40's which was so different than what we know now. (less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Devon Goodwin
Aug 27, 2012 Devon Goodwin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Favorite passage:

"At night, after being at Prospect, I lie in bed and see great clusters of berries slide by endlessly against my closed lids. They haunt me. There are so many of them yet unpicked, so many that will never be picked. The birds and bears and foxes will eat a few, but most of them will drop off at the first frost, to return to the sparse soil of Prospect whatever of value they borrowed from it. Nature is strictly moral. There is no attempt to cheat the earth by means of steel vault
Oct 25, 2009 Kate rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookclub
This book made me want to take to the woods, to wear my comfy clothes with no waistbands, to not fight the winter, to cook creatively, to enjoy my house and its surroundings, and to live simply. Though the story preserves some quaintness from a less modern time, Louise Rich still appeals to the modern reader.
Dec 26, 2015 Laura rated it liked it
I found the first half of the book interesting, but the later chapters seemed to be more of the same. It was a nice winter read, and my copy is an old one with a picture of snowy woods on the dust jacket, so it was visually appealing as well.
Jan 19, 2015 Lauren rated it really liked it
My family has a summer house on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, and "We Took to the Woods" has been enjoyed by many of my relatives throughout the years (we often use the term "woods queer", which Rich coined, to describe the boredom and weird behavior that sets in after spending too long in the woods!). I finally got around to reading the novel, and I am very glad I did. Rich's memoirs of her time living with her family in the Maine woods are well-written, funny, and meaningful. Several p ...more
Don't ask me how I happened to stumble upon this book published in 1942. Serendipity at work...and an on-going fascination with books set in Maine of late. There it was amongst the Dewey Decimal Code 917.4 books (geography of and travel in North America--New England). There I found a book to treasure.
Ralph Rich bought a piece of land in rural Maine for a summer camp, after having spent boyhood summers there and feeling a fierce desire to return. On his first day there, as fate would have it, alo
Jul 31, 2011 Natalie rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Ivy
Recommended to Natalie by: Amazon
Shelves: nature-books
I read on an Amazon review that We Took to the Woods was the real deal compared to Anne LaBastille's "Barbie-doll-like" accounts of living in the wild. I have to agree, though I like Anne.

Louise Dickinson Rich wasn't wealthy. She wasn't connected. Her husband was working class. And Louise Dickinson Rich was a writer by trade, naturalist by passion.

So of course you're going to get better prose than Anne LaBastille (sorry, Anne) and less soap-boxing.

Killer Quote:
"Happy people aren't given to soul
Jim Aker
Aug 15, 2009 Jim Aker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any who love the outdoors.
She Took to the Woods

A review of Louise Dickenson Rich’s tale of family life in the great northern forest of Maine, ‘We Took to the Woods.’

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
The Road Less Traveled- Robert Frost

“For there are some people who can live without wild things about them and the earth beneath their feet, and some who cannot. To those of us who, in
Jeanette Thomason
Apr 14, 2012 Jeanette Thomason rated it it was amazing
Loved and just reread for a tenth time: memoir of making a home in the wild with respect, wonder, and good humor during the Depression. Enchanting. Inspiring. Funny. One of my favorite stories is of the time Louise is asked to cook for a logging crew at the dam. She has potatoes, coffee, a salmon, and not much more, but goes at it like Christ with the loaves and fishes. The hungry foreman tells her the time the crew will break for lunch and Louise sets a timer. The hungry foreman keeps sneaking ...more
Jan 04, 2010 Hannah rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Armchair hermits in disguise, nature lovers, Maine lovers
A really good read that satisfied the armchair hermit that lurks very close to the surface of my life. Louise Rich's account of her life in backwoods Maine during the 1930's and 40's was filled with insightful, witty and meaningful observations of what it takes to live this kind of life and how much she really loved it. I enjoyed all 11 chapters with their cute, questioning titles such as:

Chapter IV: Isn't Housekeeping Difficult (Louise says: NO, as she's no housekeeper).

Chapter V: Aren't the Ch
Feb 17, 2015 Alice rated it really liked it
This book is delightful. It chronicles six years in the remote Maine woods in the 1930s. Rich has a wry sense of humor and insight into people. I also loved the classic Maine terms (which I had never heard until I moved to Maine 32 years ago) like "jeezly" and "culch." I highly recommend this book.
Oct 25, 2013 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
Loved this. Another book I won't part with. Another autobiographical account of a woman's life in a time and country long gone. Not feminist, simply an account. Simply written and a lovely way of life recounted. Another read that makes me fear I was born in the wrong time, envious of a more simple, even if more difficult (compared to today's standards) , way of life. I wish I'd been able to personally know the author, she was a Classy Broad.
Mar 01, 2015 Elinor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pioneer-memoirs
Gosh, I loved this book by clever, articulate and witty Louise Dickinson Rich. She and her husband were original back-to-the-landers, although they didn't think of themselves as such. They just liked living in a wild, natural place -- in this case, the backwoods of Maine -- and were perfectly content to enjoy each other's company, along with their hired hand and their two children.

Louise writes entertainingly about the other backwoods folks in their community, plus the "sports" who came to visi
Apr 13, 2016 Brandi rated it really liked it
"No... we don't have plays and music and contact with sophisticated minds, and a round of social engagements. All we have are sun and wind and rain, and space in which to move and breathe. All we have are the forests, and the calm expanses of lakes, and time to call our own."
Sep 21, 2009 Cheryl rated it really liked it
I liked this. Yes, it is a tad dated and sometimes the narrative seems a little childish but overall it was a wonderful story. Part of what was rewarding is that I'm very familiar with the area in which it takes place, adding to my positive experience. I also gravitate to tales about people living in extraordinary situations. And, I love tales about nature. The only negative comment I would have is that while it did have a beginning and a middle it really didn't really seem to have a finish. The ...more
Carrie Fitz
Jul 01, 2013 Carrie Fitz rated it it was amazing

I stumbled across this book during a sleepless night while staying at my parent's house in Maine last week. I am wary of homesteading books that write from a sentimental, self righteous perspective, and was thrilled to find this book to be the polar opposite. Louise Dickinson Rich is funny, practical, often self effacing (but not in a weird insecure way) and just plain downright real! My family roots are in Northern Maine, so perhaps that helps to explain the connection I felt with this memoir.
Jan 01, 2015 Jo rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, outdoors
Love this book on so many levels. Delighted to have found a copy on the sale shelves of my local friends of the library & can't wait to share it with my friends. A must for anyone who enjoys homesteading, memoirs, or just good story-telling. Mrs. Rich is a wonderful companion: forthright, humorous and sharp-sighted. Her occasional poetic flights in the midst of otherwise workmanlike writing are a heart-opening delight.
Jun 08, 2012 Suzanne rated it it was amazing
There's not much more that can be said about this book, probably up there with the top 10 memoirs of the 20th century. It's never, ever been out of print, which says a lot! If you read it, you'll feel like it was written yesterday and not in the 30's, such is Rich's tone---clear and humorous and ageless. For anyone who has dreamt of living it all behind and living in the woods, this is a book not to be missed.
Susan Gill
Jul 05, 2014 Susan Gill rated it it was amazing
I first discovered this book years ago when I was in jr. high school and my mother handed me a copy of Yankee magazine. In this now forgotten issue of that regional magazine, was a story about a woman who lived in a remote area of Maine with her husband and small son. Liking as I do, even at 12, stories about remote cabins and rural living, I sought out the book itself. I read it, of course, and then years later, found my own copy in a used bookstore in Oyster Bay. Louise Rich wrote in a familia ...more
Feb 05, 2015 Mila rated it really liked it
This book is lovely! Rich's voice is warm, matter-of-fact, and entertaining, and her word usage is delightful. I love needing to get out a dictionary for good reason and not because it seems like the author is being pushy about their verbiage. True, Rich has only been living out in the woods for 6 years, so there's something of the Walden in this one, but her stories ring true and I think her relative inexperience gives her a perspective those of us who dream of such things can relate to. She ha ...more
Dec 30, 2012 Rosemaryknits rated it really liked it
This book is really about nothing in particular. It's just the author's observations on life in the woods. However, it is excellent! She has a phenomenal way with words and it turns this "about nothing" book into a "can't put it down" book. I highly recommend.
Feb 05, 2016 Sherry rated it really liked it
This is the final book in our Maine Humanities "Let's Talk about It" series on exploring Wilderness, Exploring Maine, and on if the best. It is so readable. When Louise Dickinson Rich and her husband Ralph Rich sell up and move to the wilds of North West Maine to write and live simply, who'd believe it would be four years before Louise would come out of the woods, even if just for a day, and that they would consider their lives without toilets or running water, chopping 12+ cords of wood to make ...more
Denny Stein
Sep 16, 2009 Denny Stein rated it really liked it
About half way through - it's wonderful!
Raymond Rockwell
Mar 15, 2016 Raymond Rockwell rated it it was amazing
A self-contained Bostonian marries a life in the forested Rangely Lakes region of Maine, a separate "peace" (from WWII) of cooperation/competition with nature.
Louise supplements the resources by writing; Ralph, by guiding sports to trout
and salmon. Freezes and floods, cuts and bruises, childbirth--and nary a nervous
breakdown. (In fact, if anyone even comes near neurasthenia, it's the presumed
tough and insensitive lumberjacks in the surrounding paper company camps!)

This is a delightful book.
Jun 29, 2015 Kat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nature
We Took to the Woods is a delightful record of the Rich family’s life in the backwoods of Maine in the 1930s and ’40s. After years of living in cities, Louise and her husband, Ralph, both writers, moved to the woods. They bought a property with several buildings, originally built as a fishing camp.

Amazon Prime didn’t deliver to their house. In the winter, the roads were so snowy that they were cut off from town for months. They had to stock up on canned goods. They chop wood, garden, fish, occa
Sarah-Mae Adam
Aug 12, 2014 Sarah-Mae Adam rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
Beautifully written in a conversational style, this account of one woman taking "to the woods" is potentially one of my favourite books of all time.

Louise Dickinson Rich is an average woman in the 1930s, she is not rich, she is a second wife, a step mother and a mother to one boy, Rufus, and all whom visit the woods of Maine. Answering questions she is often asked, such as "but how do you make a living?", "but you don't live here all the year round?", and "don't you ever get bored?", Louise spi
Mar 11, 2014 Marygrace rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I heard about this book a few years ago on the radio. I couldn't find it at the library so I ordered a used copy from Amazon. I was surprised when it came that it was published in 1942. It was such a nice trip into the wilderness. I like how she referred to civilization as "the outside"! She met her husband when she happened upon him on a canoe trip. He was a former business man from Chicago. She left everything she knew to live in the woods and really found herself. I google Louise Dickinson Ri ...more
Jennifer Heise
Feb 08, 2014 Jennifer Heise rated it liked it
This a classic woman's memoir of the first half of the 20th century, but like Betty MacDonald of The Egg and I fame, Louise Dickinson Rich was a good deal tougher and more self-reliant than her time claimed women to be. This isn't just a back-to-the-land memoir-- in fact the Riches subsisted primarily on providing services to sportsmen and lumber companies in their area. But for the first four years of her marriage, Rich found she never had time, what with one thing and another that she wanted t ...more
Jan 19, 2012 Alyssa rated it it was amazing
One of my all time favorite books, right up against The Winter of Our Discontent and Redwall.
I have always dreamed of moving up into the woods and the daily life that comes with it- getting your water, hunting food, keeping warm, etc. And this books tells it exactly how it is in a casual, well written story. I felt close to Louise and her family and all the characters that inhabit the North Woods of Maine. I was very excited to learn that her home, Forest Lodge, isn't far from Lake Umbagog (whe
Jan 14, 2014 Shannan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
1/11/14 update: reread this book in three days flat. Quite the difference from last reading although I think my change in circumstances has made me feel even more like the author than ever before. To explain, Rich wrote this book in 1940s backwoods Maine. Most of the book is written from the "winter" perspective. Below freezing temps, snow, wood stoves heating spaces, wool clothes, limited access because of snow, ice, blizzards. When I first read this book I lived in moderate climate Pacific Nor ...more
Jan 08, 2014 Linda rated it it was amazing
What a remarkable book! Reminiscent of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings's Cross Creek, (also published in 1942), this collection of stories of Depression Era years spent in the Rangeley area of Maine is a delightful escapist fantasy for the vicarious Back to the Land folks among us. Titling each chapter in an FAQ format, Ms. Rich well-describes life's joys and hardships with humor and a most readable style. Throughout, she shares wisdom which is timeless, reminding us of the importance of simple values ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • A Country Year: Living the Questions
  • A Place In The Woods
  • A Year in the Maine Woods
  • Woodswoman I: Living Alone in the Adirondack Wilderness
  • Indian Creek Chronicles: A Winter Alone in the Wilderness
  • Anybody Can Do Anything (Betty MacDonald Memoirs, #3)
  • The Good Life: Helen and Scott Nearing's Sixty Years of Self-Sufficient Living
  • Two in the Far North
  • Settled in the Wild: Notes from the Edge of Town
  • Hit by a Farm: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Barn
  • More Readings From One Man's Wilderness: The Journals of Richard L. Proenneke, 1974-1980
  • Winter: Notes from  Montana
  • The Hills is Lonely
  • The Orchard: A Memoir
  • See You in a Hundred Years: Four Seasons in Forgotten America
  • The Blueberry Years: A Memoir of Farm and Family
  • Arctic Homestead: The True Story of One Family's Survival and Courage in the Alaskan Wilds
  • The Feast Nearby: How I lost my job, buried a marriage, and found my way by keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, bartering, and eating locally (all on $40 a week)

Writer known for fiction and non-fiction works about New England, particularly Massachusetts and Maine. Mrs. Rich grew up in Bridgewater where her father was the editor of a weekly newspaper. She met Ralph Eugene Rich, a Chicago businessman, on a Maine canoe trip in 1933 and they married a year later. Mr. Rich died in 1944. Her best-known work was her first book, the autobiographical We Took to th
More about Louise Dickinson Rich...

Share This Book