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The View from Lazy Point: A Natural Year in an Unnatural World

4.27  ·  Rating Details ·  334 Ratings  ·  65 Reviews

An exhilarating journey of natural renewal through a year with MacArthur fellow Carl Safina

Beginning in his kayak in his home waters of eastern Long Island, Carl Safina's The View from Lazy Point takes us through the four seasons to the four points of the compass, from the high Arctic south to Antarctica, across the warm belly of the tropics from the Caribbean to the wes

Hardcover, 416 pages
Published January 4th 2011 by Henry Holt and Co.
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Ticklish Owl Is this the quote you're looking for, perhaps the last line?

We stand upon the flat boulders armoring the slope below the lighthouse, with green swells
Is this the quote you're looking for, perhaps the last line?

We stand upon the flat boulders armoring the slope below the lighthouse, with green swells crashing the rocks before us. A Herring Gull gliding overhead is as beautiful as any idea perfected. Their abundance tends to render them invisible; it’s to everyday miracles that we’re most blind.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Richard Derus
Feb 24, 2011 Richard Derus rated it it was ok
This two-star rant has been revised and can now be found at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud.

Really. Someone this August A Personage can afford a ghostwriter.
An outstanding read with a good balance of the author's own lyrical, personal experience with the interconnectedness and beauty of nature and of thoughtful arguments of how humankind must act soon to change the course of its poor stewardship of planet Earth. The book covers one year in which he alternates between sojourns in the environs of his residence near the tip of Long Island and trips to distant sites where human-caused ecological changes are most profound. The latter include coral reefs ...more
Jan 04, 2011 Melody rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Humans
Heart-wrenching, eye-opening and exquisitely written. Safina has been compared to many of the giants in the natural history world, but he's a better writer than the lot of 'em. In this latest book, he waxes a bit more philosophical than he's done before. His philosophy fits my belief system like a glove, and his conclusions are breathtaking. One trembles to think that we are on the razor's edge, that our window to ameliorate our planet's distress is closing rapidly- and that if we don't do it, i ...more
Hannah Spector
Sep 18, 2012 Hannah Spector rated it it was amazing
I loved, loved, loved this book so much. I can't remember the last time something shook me so deeply and left me thinking about how I live and what I consume- all the choices I make, and their costs.

Can't underline a library book so keeping a running tab of quotes here:

"The compass of compassion asks not "What is good for me?" but "What is good?" Not what is best for me but what is best. Not what is right for me but what is right. Not "How much can we take?" but "How much ought we leave?" and "
Sep 29, 2011 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book, beautifully written. Usually I read books of this nature and end up with a sense of dread and guilt - not so here. While Safina lays bare the problems that are facing us now and also those that are coming up quickly he also is diligent in noticing what is going right, and how well things respond when just a little care and restraint are given and practiced. Probably the greatest thing I took from this book was something that shocks me - public interest groups are forbidden by l ...more
May 20, 2011 Tuck rated it really liked it
hohkay, some will read this and give it the one star/this-is-tripe rating, and some will give it the 5 star/this-is-groundbreakingly-wonderful rating. I gave her a 4 because i learned a few things: 1. in the summer, little eddies and whirlpools break off of the gulf stream and drift into long island sound and carry with them LOTS of teeny tiny tropical fish babies, and aquariums from all over go net them for their uses in aquarium worlds 2. there were over 100 different species of penguins (one ...more
May 19, 2012 Cheryl rated it really liked it
Mmm, exactly my kind of book. A deeply intelligent and inspirational scientist takes the time to describe where he lives, on a spit of land where the sun rises and falls over the ocean, and then also describes his travels to other oceans and coasts, and merges the two together intensely and beautifully and sometimes heartbreakingly. We see a year in his life, as well as year of the world’s life, and nothing is more beautiful, to watch the world grow and change nor is it more important, to pay at ...more
Sep 12, 2015 James rated it it was amazing
I learned of this book when my librarian spouse was engaged in a year-long project of reading "year of" books -- an entire genre of books whose authors dedicated a year to a particular topic or practice. This meta project involved reading two such books each month, and we shared a few of them. Since I am an environmental geographer, she read this one to me.

Around the same time, I was realizing that the textbook in my introductory environmental geography class was becoming a bit out-of-date, and
Simon Alford
Jul 29, 2013 Simon Alford rated it liked it
I picked this book up off the library shelf hoping a nature-y book like it would turn me into an eco-friendly person who
appreciated the planet's miraculousness more. I'd always felt indebted towards the environment, but never had full motivation to do anything serious about it.
This book was exactly the book I needed, and while it didn't make me suddenly passionate about nature, that's more my high expectations' fault than the book's.
To start, having each chapter one month out of the whole year
Mar 19, 2011 Amy rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
There was a bit too much infinite detail on fish and fishing and sea creatures and types of ducks for me, but in between, what an amazing and articulate look at how we are and are not affecting the natural world around us. This guy can write.
Feb 15, 2011 Rick rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is Safina’s fourth book and perhaps is most prominently attended to—though the earlier ones received prizes and best non-fiction, science or nature honors from many and sundry publications and organizations. The View from Lazy Point is part meditation on a particular place and one man’s presence in it, part advocacy for more responsible behavior by humans locally and throughout the world (they are essentially the same thing—man’s small corner and the great wide world, this current moment an ...more
Jean V. Naggar Literary
Aug 09, 2012 Jean V. Naggar Literary rated it it was amazing
Winner of the 2012 Orion Book Award
Named one of Best Books of 2011 by Newsday

“A Thoreau for the 21st century.” --New York Post

“Safina’s book soars...I had to—and wanted to—read THE VIEW FROM LAZY POINT very slowly, allowing myself to digest its wealth of information, to revel in the beauty of Safina’s writing and to absorb fully the implications of his musings…What a pleasure it is to be asked to stop rushing about and take time to think, to grapple with fundamental questions, and to find such a
Kathleen McRae
Oct 11, 2016 Kathleen McRae rated it really liked it
This is a lovely book to read
This is among the best works of nonfiction I've ever read. The author is a biologist whose narrative history of one year encompasses three things: his home in Lazy Point (a sea side community on Long Island), his travels around the globe (to South America, to Alaska, to the Arctic Circle, to Micronesia, and to Antarctica), and his thoughts on man's relationship with the natural world. Mr. Safina is not only a knowledgeable scientist, he is a gifted writer, and the combination makes The View From ...more
Susan Clark-cook
Sep 19, 2012 Susan Clark-cook rated it really liked it
This book is written beautifully and the descriptions of the natural world are breathtaking. It is written by an ecologist very concerned with the state of our world right now, and what we are doing to basically, ruin it. He sounds a warning bell that is clearly articulated and gives examples from real life that makes it ring even truer, but , although he states that without our immediate action the world is going to suffer, and suffer badly-not just the flora and fauna, but the people who live ...more
Mar 08, 2011 Beeb3 marked it as to-read
Recommended to Beeb3 by: betsy
Shelves: not-chosen
Lazy Point is a “flat peninsula of scrubby pines between the Sound and the bay,” a “place of real power” on a wild swath of Long Island, where ecologist and ocean advocate Safina lives, avidly observing terns, sea ducks, and other shorebirds, as well as bluefish and horseshoe crabs. From his home base, this celebrated scientist and activist travels to places where the impact of climate change and environmental abuse is starkly evident. With the spiral of a year as his structure and with what Ein ...more
I actually read this book last January and loved it. I can't believe I forgot to write a review! The View From Lazy Point is my choice for the 2012 Cremin Award for the Best Freaking Book I Read All Year.

Mr. Safina is a marine biologist who writes lyrical, haunting prose. The author writes about science the way poets write about love: with great depth, and beauty, and imagination. Mr. Safina took a year to travel the world and observe the changes being wrought by climate change. He begins his s
Sep 27, 2011 Gail rated it it was amazing
Without question, one of the best non-fiction books I've read in a long, long time. Heard him interviewed on NPR and immediately downloaded to my Kindle. This book follows him around the world, exploring what is happening right now to oceans, ice flows, rivers, forests ....habitat all around us. He interviews scientists who are investigating whether or not the planet can recover from what we're doing to it and if so, what to do and how long it will take. At the same time, he chronicles the chang ...more
Dec 30, 2012 Debbie rated it it was amazing
In a single year, the author covers our most periled environments, from barrier reefs to wetlands to both polar regions, and he recounts the damage done and the consequences of human disregard. The best passages are those describing his walks along a Long Island beach with his beloved dog. Safina writes evocatively of his observations and it's as if you're there walking alongside him and seeing what he sees. How could one man know so many bird species!

There are a few moments of low-key preachin
Jessica Mootz
Aug 12, 2013 Jessica Mootz rated it liked it
Shelves: owned-books
The View from Lazy Point is definitely well-written and thought-provoking. This book is filled with seemingly unbiased facts and assessments of the current environmental and climatic issues. Safina tells us a little bit about a lot of really cool and interesting things - just enough to spark an interest. Being a compulsive underliner/notetaker, I found myself quite frequently jotting down ideas to later look up. I actually stuck a post-it in the bibliography with a note to myself declaring certa ...more
Mar 01, 2011 Carl rated it really liked it
Once again Safina gives us loads of observations of nature, both wondrous and depressing, along with a lot more preaching than he's done in previous books. Unfortunately it's likely to be heard mostly by the choir.
My enjoyment was somewhat diminished by what seemed like too much listing of birds (perhaps more enjoyable to serious birders), even fish, without enough detail to make it interesting to non-birders--almost like showing off how many species he can recognize quickly and at a distance.
May 12, 2013 Steve rated it it was amazing
The author carries us through a calendar year in the natural world centered on his home base of Lazy Point on the eastern shore of Long Island. In the course of doing so, he takes us through what should now be the familiar effects of rapid climate change on places near and far and on species, ecosystems snf human societies next door and on the far reaches of the planet. It is clearly within our collective power and our moral responsiblity to change the trajectory we find ourselves on in this reg ...more
Jun 02, 2012 Pat rated it it was amazing
This is the first book I've read by Carl Safina, a marine biologist. He writes really well - catching you up into the interesting things about the natural world as he experiences it - but not sparing you, the reader, from his clear-eyed perceptions of man's impact on the environment in both his most benevolent forms and in his most unthinking and destructive forms. He doesn't hold anything back and spells out clearly where we, as societies, are failing to understand our own integral part of the ...more
Cole Russell
Oct 08, 2012 Cole Russell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cole by: Orion Magazine
An astounding triumph of science and spirit, Safina takes the rare position in the environmental sciences that yes, we are fucked, but some things have gotten better, some things remain great, and if we try really hard, we can save some of it (and ourselves). The rare type that understands both the biological systems as well as beauty inherent in regions and the globe, and how humans affect and are affected by it.

I'm no seabird enthusiast, but his masterful knowledge and enthusiasm for the creat
Oct 10, 2011 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
Carl Safina does it again! I love his style of writing! It is like reading a book of poetry. Safina makes it sound like you two are just sitting on his porch watching the ocean, having a conversation. He has a unique way of intertwining stories and observations about his home on Lazy Point with larger issues around the world. He has a way of talking about politics, economics, poverty, conservation, global warming and other hot button topics without sounding preachy. I finished reading this book ...more
Margaret McCamant
This book was a gift from my mother, one she learned about because it was a selection for her book group. Safina's not my favorite nature writer, but I do appreciate his trying to teach us all about the interconnectedness of life, sort of ecology writ huge.

This has been on my currently-reading list for quite a while. I just picked it up again (February). I'm enjoying this more now because I've decided to skim, stopping to read some things in detail, but skipping others. There are too many descri
On Point
Mar 23, 2011 On Point added it
Shelves: science
Listen to what MacArthur genius Carl Safina had to say about his "The View from Lazy Point" here:

When Carl Safina grabs his kayak and scuba gear and travels the world, we get more than polar bear reports and tropical fish stories. Safina is a renowned marine ecologist with a writer’s eye and a philosopher’s mind. He’s been out around the world, from his home on Lazy Point, Long Island.

What he’s seen is what remains of heart-breaking natural splendor – and of the groaning we
Jan 23, 2013 Woody rated it liked it
A perceptive, wide-ranging book that alternates between journal-like entries about the natural history of Lazy Point, and intriguing research trips to places like Palau, Svalbard and Antarctica. The book has a smooth flow, is informative, and at times inspiring. Safina, like other environmentalists, does get carried away on occasion describing the litany of environmental issues. In doing so he paints a dark picture that could lead some to conclude: why bother? But then he balances the enormity o ...more
Michael Williams
Jan 30, 2011 Michael Williams rated it it was amazing
This book is part beautiful observation of the natural world and part presentation of the concept of the inter-connectedness of everything in the world. Enjoyable, thought-provoking, and informative. I must admit that as a tree-hugger I found the book somewhat depressing because the author presents a view of how he feels we must change for the world to survive and I know that in our present political climate we are not going to change. Many people compare this to Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" ...more
Martin Cerjan
Feb 24, 2011 Martin Cerjan rated it liked it
I would give this three and a half stars if I could. It was a pleasant read with many interesting facts interspersed among a very readable narrative. While I agree with Safina, I felt like the book got awfully preachy at the end. Maybe could have used a bit of editing there. Besides the style, though, I really liked that the author saw signs of hope and reported some nice recovery stories. Since I just moved to NYC this was especially interesting to me since Lazy Point is on Long Island. I will ...more
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A Bleak Present, A Hopeful Future 1 1 Dec 01, 2014 07:43PM  
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Carl Safina’s work has been recognized with MacArthur, Pew, and Guggenheim Fellowships, and his writing has won Orion, Lannan, and National Academies literary awards and the John Burroughs, James Beard, and George Rabb medals. He has a PhD in ecology from Rutgers University. Safina is the inaugural holder of the endowed chair for nature and humanity at Stony Brook University, where he co-chairs th ...more
More about Carl Safina...

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“Saving the world requires saving democracy. That requires well-informed citizens. Conservation, environment, poverty, community, education, family, health, economy- these combine to make one quest: liberty and justice for all. Whether one's special emphasis is global warming or child welfare, the cause is the same cause. And justice comes from the same place being human comes from: compassion.” 29 likes
“Ethics that focus on human interactions, morals that focus on humanity's relationship to a Creator, fall short of these things we've learned. They fail to encompass the big take-home message, so far, of a century and a half of biology and ecology: life is- more than anything else- a process; it creates, and depends on, relationships among energy, land, water, air, time and various living things. It's not just about human-to-human interaction; it's not just about spiritual interaction. It's about all interaction. We're bound with the rest of life in a network, a network including not just all living things but the energy and nonliving matter that flows through the living, making and keeping all of us alive as we make it alive. We can keep debating ideologies and sending entreaties toward heaven. But unless we embrace the fuller reality we're in- and reality's implications- we'll face big problems.” 12 likes
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