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We Took to the Woods

4.18 of 5 stars 4.18  ·  rating details  ·  961 ratings  ·  154 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)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,730)
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Devon Goodwin
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
...more
Kate
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.
Bam
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
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Natalie
Jul 31, 2011 Natalie rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
...more
Jim Aker
Aug 15, 2009 Jim Aker rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
...more
Jeanette Thomason
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
Hannah
Jan 04, 2010 Hannah rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
...more
Alice
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.
Lauren
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
Sarah
Oct 25, 2013 Sarah rated it 5 of 5 stars
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.
Elinor
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
...more
Cheryl
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

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.
...more
Suzanne
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
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
Mila
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
Rosemaryknits
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.
Denny Stein
About half way through - it's wonderful!
Sarah-Mae Adam
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
...more
Marygrace
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
Bunnyjadwiga
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
Alyssa
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
...more
Shannan
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
Linda
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
Tom
From 1933 to 1945, Louise Dickinson Rich lived on the Rapid River in remote northwestern Maine with her husband, Ralph, and son, Rufus (and, part of the time, her stepdaughter, Sally). We Took to the Woods, a bestseller in 1942, is her frank, fond account of life in the backwoods.

The book is structured around a series of questions typically asked by folks on "The Outside": Isn't Housekeeping Difficult? Don't You Ever Get Bored? Aren't You Ever Frightened? Though Rich is given to some lengthy dig
...more
Barb
Interesting to read about life in the 30's in the woods of Maine near Rangely Lakes. Not only a different lifestyle but a different age from what we live in now. Wonder, however, if it is in fact so different for those who are living "in the woods" now. Enjoyed her writing style, smiled and sometimes laughed at her observations. Interested me enough to follow up on the internet, only to find out that her husband died within a few years after the end of the book and she moved back to Massachusett ...more
Pat
Louise Dickinson was an English teacher in Boston when she met Ralph Rich on a summer vacation canoe trip in Maine. He had just "sold some patent rights" and moved from Chicago to an old log cabin in the Rangeley Lakes area, miles from anything. They married & "took to the woods", where Louise Rich wrote this book in 1942 to answer all the questions she got from friends on "The Outside," like "How do you make a living?", "What do you do with all your spare time?" and, my favorite, "Don't you ...more
Jo
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.
Mary
A 1930s account of living in rural Maine. Two of my favorite books ever are "We Live in Alaska" and "We Live in the Arctic" by Bud and Constance Helmericks, accounts of the time they spent in northern Alaska living off the land - surviving off the land through the winter - building their own cabin and trying to survive through the winter by getting enough fat in their diet. (With plenty of meat but no fat, they were slowly starving. Their diet and the traditional diet of Alaska Natives is an int ...more
Sydney
Oct 03, 2014 Sydney added it
This memoir proves that really good writing is what makes a book sell decades after publication. Sure, it's interesting to see a different way of life in the rustic Maine woods, but it's the way Rich tells a story that makes this book a real treasure. I was happy to see it for sale in several places during my Maine vacation this summer!
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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
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