Matt's Reviews > My First Summer in the Sierra

My First Summer in the Sierra by John Muir
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Jul 15, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: natural, memoirs, nonfiction, classics
Read from July 07 to August 11, 2010 — I own a copy , read count: 1

I love reading John Muir's writings. He is so passionate, so intense and animated about that which he loves. This, his first trip into the high Sierra country, contains countless exclamatory passages and endless quotables. His naturalist interests and tendencies come out as he analyzes and categorizes and theorizes, on geology, botany, zoology, meteorology (the man is ENTRANCED by cloudscapes).

"How interesting everything is! Every rock, mountain, stream, plant, lake, lawn, forest, garden, bird, beast, insect seems to call and invite us to come and learn something of its history and relationship." (240)

Minor complaint, or noted content: He seems fairly racist towards the natives, calling them "not a whit more natural than the tourists" at least twice, and continuously calling them unclean (therefore unnatural). I understand the prevailing sentiments at the time, and also that these Indians had already been tarnished by the white man's intrusions, but you would think with all his admiration for Nature (with a capital N of course) and a natural way of life he may think differently.

I like that John Muir is outwardly fascinated with all aspects of nature--attributing all of it to God, but not letting that get in the way of or cloud his passion. He finds true divinity, religion, worship, in nature, and many of his ideas here ring loud and true still.

"Our flesh-and-bone tabernacle seems transparent as glass to the beauty about us, as if truly an inseparable part of it, thrilling with the air and trees, streams and rocks, in the waves of the sun,--a part of all nature, neither old nor young, sick nor well, but immortal." (16)

"From form to form, beauty to beauty, ever changing, never resting, all are speeding on with love's enthusiasm, singing with the stars the eternal song of creation." (128)

"the hills and groves were God's first temples, and the more they are cut down and hewn into cathedrals and churches, the farther off and dimmer seems the Lord himself." (146)

"the devil ... cannot be much of a mountaineer, for his tracks are seldom seen above the timberline." (150)

"it seems reasonable that what interests Him may well interest us. When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe." (157)

"I should like to live here always. It is so calm and withdrawn while open to the universe in full communion with everything good." (204)

"everything in Nature called destruction must be creation--a change from beauty to beauty" (229)

"In our best times everything turns into religion, all the world seems a church and the mountains altars." (250)

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read My First Summer in the Sierra.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

07/15/2010 page 36
11.0% "Love you John."
07/22/2010 page 90
27.0% "Loving his passion and intensity and hyperbole." 2 comments
show 3 hidden updates…

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Joey Beatty awesome. i am very glad to know youre reading this. read 'the new wolves' by rick bass.

Matt I will! putting it on my list

back to top