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My First Summer in the Sierra (Illustrated Edition)

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  3,643 Ratings  ·  266 Reviews
First published in 1911. Muir was a Scottish-born American naturalist, author and early advocate of preservation of wilderness in the United States.
Paperback, 132 pages
Published December 6th 2010 by Echo Library (first published 1911)
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Jason Koivu
Jun 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: good-hearted folk
Recommended to Jason by: the trees
Why would I read this? For one, it takes place in my hood. Two, it's by John Muir, the famous Scottish/American naturalist and founder of the Sierra Club, which saved national treasures like Yosemite and the Sequoia National Park.

Without Muir this might no longer exist as it does to this day...


If it weren't for Muir these living trees, some of which have been here longer than the pyramids, may have been cut down...


To look at a map of the United States, one would get the impression that moving we
Patrick Gibson
May 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Listen to Bach, Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 – this is how you will feel while reading John Muir. Exhilarated. Joyous. Passionate. Alive.

This book is never far from my reach. It is my inspiration for life.

Take a few minutes and read a sample:

“Here, we are camped for the night, our big fire, heaped high with rosiny logs and branches, is blazing like a sunrise, gladly giving back the light slowly sifted from the sunbeams of centuries of summers; and in the glow of that old sunlight how impressively
Feb 14, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I vacillated between being completely absorbed in this book to being bored out of my mind. I couldn't place my finger on it at first, but I quickly figured out what my issue was. While I very much enjoyed Muir's description and narration of the animals he saw during his camping, I had zero interest in his descriptions of the trees and plants. The journal is split pretty much 50/50 between the two, so I flip flopped between being interested and disinterested as he switched focus.

I continued readi
Tina Cipolla
Aug 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was excellent. It covers John Muir's first summer in the Sierra Mountains. I love reading books where I can see life at another point in time through someone else's eyes. For me, the most fascinating parts of the book were his encounters with the Native Americans. His reportage on these encounters are honest, discomforting and sometimes a bit frightening--and they have bear no resemblence the politically correct images of Native Americans you get in today's scrubbed history of these en ...more
Nov 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My First Summer in the Sierra is a journal, not a novel. As a journal, it garners an A+++ from me.

John Muir's wonderfully descriptive account is a work of art, a labor of love. And it poses the question how can we have become so technologically advanced and yet we have lost the basic skills of journalling? How lamentable.

I deeply appreciate John Muir's prose. It is way above novels that try to tackle the natural world but fall short.

This read is for anyone who has gone to Yosemite National Park
May 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful and inspiring. I just love Muir's personality. His outlook on the world is so close to my own. I feel like I can really related to his writings. Themes that make sense to me: the natural world as sacred; God speaking to us through nature; spirituality coming to us mostly through the mundane and canny, but with occasional, apparently supernatural experiences that serve to confuse as much as anything.

My favorite passage from the book is Muir's description of going to see the falls:

I took
Sean Wilson
John Muir, America's favourite Scotsman, writes so beautifully and eloquently in this passionate book on the Sierra wilderness. It's playful, philosophical, poetic, scientific and very hard to put down. Read Muir singing the songs of Robert Burns to squirrels, encounter bears, describe the colourful plant life that surrounds him, engage with Native Americans and surrender his soul to the transcending beauty that is Nature. His philosophical passages had an incredibly inspiring impact on me, and ...more
Blake Charlton
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
the love song of California's druid.
Jul 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bryson Patterson
This I suppose was my first book by a naturalist and I enjoyed it. Detailing his own trip to Yosemite as a sheep herder during the summer of 1869, the book is a celebration of Yosemite. I felt a little envy for his unabashed use of exclamation points throughout. He's truly excited--wandering the meadows, climbing the domes, describing plant and animal life, drinking "champagne" water--and isn't restrained in showing it. The enthusiasm is palpable and I was glad to be reading it while in Yosemite ...more
Feb 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
John Muir became a tireless advocate of conservation, a vocal proponent of creating national parks to protect this country’s great untouched western wild places. But, before that, he had to discover them for himself. He grew up on an improvised farm in Wisconsin with a domineering Calvinist father. He escaped as soon as he could.

Leaving home, he first became a walker and then a writer. He made his first trip into the Sierra Nevada Mountains in 1869 as the rest of the country was just beginning t
Nick Klagge
Jun 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have considered myself a big John Muir fan for a while, but this is easily the best thing I've read by him, and it's what I would recommend to anyone new to him. It's extremely accessible and is just what it says on the cover--a diary account of the first summer Muir spent in the Sierra (Tuolumne Meadow area), as some sort of supervisor to a shepherd taking a herd of sheep up into the mountains. (Muir does virtually no discernible work over the course of the book.) It was especially nice for m ...more
Aug 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: librivox-books
I read this several years ago and thought I might enjoy listening to it this time as it is on librivox. The reader is excellent. I love this journal style of writing, but it isn't for everyone. It made me chuckle when I realized that a walk through Yosemite with John Muir would have been a little bit like a walk with Bob Ross, that "Joy of Painting" guy. His gushing is as entertaining as the plants and animals he describes! John Muir must be the only man alive who could gush over finding housefl ...more
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great read

I just love detailed descriptive books about the outdoors . The named locations within the park takes reader to the exact location is just beautiful
Vince Snow
Kind of a tough read, I really liked a couple of his stories though, especially the one about confronting the bear in the meadow and the one about how happy he was when his dog came home
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an enlightened human being!
Apr 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
A wonderful account. But note that this is a diary. Do not expect it to be "action" in diary's clothing.

Speaking of sheep, this diary follows John Muir's first summer in the Sierra mountains in California as a sheep herder. (Later, I have read, Muir lobbied against allowing sheep to graze in national parks.) Muir pities the pitiful sheep and is put off by their devouring grazing and the commercialism that would promote it:
They cannot hurt the trees, though ... should the woolly locusts [lol!] be
Sep 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nature
I suspect there is a good possibility that John Muir's My First Summer in the Sierra was on the book shelf in my childhood home in California. He was, after all, highly regarded by my parents and the home was filled with books of all types and genre. But, I do not remember it nor have I ever read anything written by John Muir, until this 100th Anniversary Illustrated Edition caught my attention.

Muir's account of his 1869 adventure in and around the Yosemite Valley of the Sierra Nevada range is p
Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: personal-account
Reading this book is like taking an actual walk with John Muir. It's so richly detailed. This walk in the Sierra was a sheep herding experience for him, with wonderful descriptions of the natural features, animals, companions, pets, events, and a reverence for God's creation.
Dec 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Muir's journals of his trips into Yosemite and the Sierras are inspiring reads, but they come with one very important prerequisite. I purchased My First Summer in the Sierra a few months after spending a day at Yosemite National Park, and, because of that trip, I felt a much deeper and more vivid connection to Muir's observations. Because I had seen some of the mountains, meadows, and trees which abound in Yosemite firsthand, Muir's descriptions of them really came to life and brought back ...more
Dec 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This short book is an account of naturalist John Muir's first summer in what would later be Yosemite National Park. He worked as a sheepherder, moving a flock of about 250 sheep from meadow to meadow during a few summer months. His only duties seem to be bread baking and rounding up errant sheep, which leaves him plenty of time to appreciate the wilderness. He is a knowledgeable and infectious writer about nature, and the book is full of wise observations and wonder about the plants, animals, an ...more
Muir's enthusiasm for the Sierras is evident on every page. I would be convinced by him even if I hadn't seen the Sierras for myself. It is a good book to indulge in if you want to imagine that you have a summer to spend hiking in the mountains. The descriptions of trees and clouds are sometimes redundant, but there are lots of keen notes on natural history and interesting human or animal encounters. I particularly liked the story of the shepherd who thought he could scare off a mother bear (wit ...more
Feb 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely stunning, Nature with a capital N! I have always admired the work of John Muir and what he stood for but this is the first of his books that I have read. I am surprised at how wonderful and accessible the writing is, he had such an enthusiasm for the natural world that you can not help but be swept up in the joyful discoveries he makes on each page.
Best to be read with a good field guide for trees and flowers at hand so as to have the full effect of the descriptions, how splendidly he
Feb 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite out of the blue is Muir's hilarious description of the shepherd's overalls, which the shepherd never takes off. Collecting grease from his meat sack and then pollen, insects, pine needles etc, the overalls "wear thick instead of thin" and become a sort of microcosmic museum of Yosemite. I would have read the whole book just for that one page description. Too bad those overalls aren't in a museum somewhere.
Lastly, be prepared to pine for smoky fires and endless days of lazy hiking while re
Dec 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not my usual style of book. It is a diary, with no real story, and with long and detailed descriptions of plants. It takes a while to get into the book, and took me almost nine months to finish it. Yet there is a progression to the diary. Particularly once Muir gets to higher elevations, then still higher, his delight becomes infectious, and the story moves quickly. Although the prose can be terribly purple, Muir back it up and justifies it with a fine eye for detail. I regretted getting ...more
Rift Vegan
Mar 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
oh yeah! I just loved the journal format... very much reminiscent of Thoreau's journals!!!

John Muir wrote this book (or edited his journals) about 40 years after the fact. And, *smiles*, he expresses joy and elation every single day. Even when it rains, he is exceedingly happy!

Which makes me wonder if Muir is one of those always happy people that I would have to strangle if I meet them in real life! :) Or maybe it's just rose coloured glasses, years after the fact. *smiles*

Anyway, I enjoyed th
Amy Beth
Apr 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This writing is eloquent with just enough description and heartfelt musing. When he shares how things make him feel, it is so moving. If you've been to Yosemite, you get this. And even if you haven't, I think this book will convince you to go there. It is a spiritual experience. I admire John Muir so much for all he did, for all he started and brought to light. I think he is my number one hero of all time.
Feb 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enter the world of a true ecstatic tree-hugger. John Muir is amazing channeling Emerson and all those Transcendentalists with wild ravings about mountains and bugs and trees. The edition I read was illustrated with gorgeous pictures of the places Muir visited during his Golden Summer herding sheep from the San Joaquin Valley up into the high country. Muir says he could live on bread, mountain water, and "Godful" nature, and I believe him. Truly a transcendent memoir.
Connor McCarthy
Jul 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful book, Johns love for nature is absolutely contagious. Cant wait to be back in the sierras!
Aug 14, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: granola eaters
Thought it would be entertaining, but it ended up being an exact copy of his journal. BORING.
Jan 20, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I love JOhn Muir but this one was a little to vague for me. I was looking for more of his big stories...this didn't have them
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John Muir (1838 – 1914) was a Scottish-American naturalist, author, and early advocate of preservation of wilderness in the United States. His letters, essays, and books telling of his adventures in nature, especially in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, have been read by millions. His activism helped to preserve the Yosemite Valley, Sequoia National Park and other wilderness areas. The S ...more
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“We are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us.” 245 likes
“Another glorious Sierra day in which one seems to be dissolved and absorbed and sent pulsing onward we know not where. Life seems neither long nor short, and we take no more heed to save time or make haste than do the trees and stars. This is true freedom, a good practical sort of immortality.” 219 likes
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