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High Tide in Tucson

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  10,162 ratings  ·  557 reviews
With the eyes of a scientist and the vision of a poet, Barbara Kingsolver explores her trademark themes of family, community and the natural world. Defiant, funny and courageously honest, High Tide in Tucson is an engaging and immensely readable collection from one of the most original voices in contemporary literature.

'Possessed of an extravagantly gifted narrative voice,
Paperback, 273 pages
Published 1996 by Faber and Faber (first published 1995)
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4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  10,162 ratings  ·  557 reviews

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Jun 18, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone with a brain, everyone who is interested in the US
I try not to do this often, but in this case, the New York Times Book Review review on the back of my paperback edition, really says everything about these 25 essays by Barbara Kingsolver that you need to know:

Kingsolver's essays should be savored like quiet afternoons with a friend. ...She speaks in a language rich with music and replete with good sense."

Couldn't have said it better myself.

An enormously honest and personal collection of essays. If you like any of Kingsolver's books, I'm sure yo
Lisa Z
Oct 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I read this collection of essays years ago, and remember how thought provoking I found them. Barbara Kingsolver is, of course an excellent writer; her fiction is beautiful. The great thing about High Tide in Tuscon is actually getting a glimpse of what's inside this writer's head - the everyday things as well as the grand. It's a pretty well rounded combination of essays that come across simply as "this is what I think now" or "this is what I've been thinking about lately" - in Kingsolver's voic ...more
Tracy Rhodes
Mar 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This is the first of Kingsolver's books that I read, and it's still my favorite, albeit that it's a collection of non-fiction essays. Maybe part of the reason is that I was also living in Tucson when I read it, so the things she had to say about life in that part of Arizona resonated with me. Beyond that, though, I just love the way she uses words - she writes lyrically.
Kathleen Dixon
May 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Kathleen by: Reading Seals
I read Prodigal Summer (last year, I think it was) and enjoyed it enormously. I really like the way Kingsolver uses words. So when another of her books was on offer (through Reading Seals, my book discussion group, just to borrow) I grabbed it. This book is a collection of essays. She took pieces she’d written for magazines and revised them, wrote a few more, and put them together in chapters ordered to be read as a book (i.e. front to back – acknowledging that some people don’t read books that ...more
Jan 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. Like "Small Wonder" it was a book of essays, but less militantly environmental.

My favorite of the essays was "Jabberwocky" where she discusses art as politics. As in her other books her use of language is phenomenal and the book provided excellent thoughts and quotes.

I would definitely recommend this book.
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book of essays was perfect for our monthly library genre circle and it was a perfect match for me. Kingsolver covered all areas in which I have a great interest in; parenting, human rights, environment, and nature. Every story spoke to me, the words flowed so smoothly and with such great detail. I truly enjoyed this book and am looking forward to trying other Kingsolver works.
Jul 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing
It's been a while since I read these essays, and it's time for me to read them again. I remember, when I first read this book, it was on a horrible trip back to Cork, from San Francisco. My father was in hospital, having suffered some kind of major neurological setback, one of many on the long decline to his death in late 2002. Things were fairly touch and go, and there was a lot of waiting in hospital corridors. I was enormously grateful for the sanity and calm of Kingsolver's writing - this bo ...more
noisy penguin
Jun 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I stole this from my mother-in-law about a year ago. Now I can finally give it back, but it's one of those that I liked so much that I'd rather just keep it. I haven't read anything by Kingsolver before so I have no idea how this compares to her other work, but it's a collection of shortish essays. Some are pretty funny, most are poignant, and all made me long for her writer's life. Time to get on that.
Dec 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
From the title essay: Embrace your own biology. Don't beat yourself up for acting like the human animal that you are.
The rest of the essays: I laughed out loud more times than I can say, and I felt more connected to humanity as I read them. This is a book I go back to and re-read over and over because of that. I don't always agree with everything she says, but the essays always make me think and evaluate my own beliefs, biases, prejudices, actions.
Deanna Dailey
Jun 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I love love love Kingsolver, and I think I love this collection of nonfiction essays even better than any of her fiction. It's written in the style of Annie Dillard, as a layperson who is interested in observation of the natural world and then exploration of underlying scientific principles. It's a beautifully written book and I reread it every several years.
Bob Nichols
The book is a collection of essays on various autobiographical topics. It is a little bit of Thoreau, though less dense, and a little bit more of Dillard, but more straightforward.

Kingsolver celebrates our animal nature. She refers to the “silly egghead of a species that we are” and goes on to say that “We tap our toes to chaste love songs about the silvery moon without recognizing them as hymns to copulation. We can dress up our drives, put them in three-piece suits or ballet slippers, but stil
Oct 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In this collection of essays, rewritten and expanded versions, in many cases, from what has been previously published in various magazines, Kingsolver's skill and talent as an essayist shimmers with brilliance and sheer entertainment.

Topics have wide range, covering nature, art, values and ethics, human nature and its foibles, politics and travels. Whether she is pondering the biological clocks of hermit crabs or espousing her views on violence and objectification of women on the silver screen,
Oct 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Barbara Kingsolver was one of a few novelists I fell head-over-heels in love with as a pre-teen; that is, an AUTHOR I vowed to follow, instead of a book or series. At this point it feels, as I'm sure it does for many of her fans, like I know her. That's part of her appeal, of course, and she cultivates her personability well and visibly. In coming to this collection of essays, released almost twenty years ago, I see her writer-wheels turning more visibly than ever. (Essays are really good for th ...more
Aug 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I don't give many 5 stars but this book was really great. Barbara Kinsolver put together a bunch of her essays from various magazine and paper publications to create a book in which one really feels connected to the author. Kingsolver is known for her fiction works and she even discusses how many of her fans write to her thinking that they are based on truths even though they aren't. What this book allows for those fans is a real glimpse into her life and her thoughts on things from raising a he ...more
Saskia Marijke Niehorster-Cook
barbara Kingsolver is one of my favorite writers. She not only is eloquent and touching, she chooses to stand and voice opinions that are not the most popular with a convincing ferocity that makes me believe in humanity.

This is the first book I read of hers that is made up of short stories. Sometimes novelists do not do well with short stories, or vice versa. However, Barbara Kingsolver is someone who can interest us in different and poignant topics without missing a beat and then move on to the
Beth Weisberger
Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: travel
Unless Barbara Kingsolver is psychic, she probably didn’t realize she was writing a book more timely for 2018 than 1995. These essay covers topics of motherhood, capitalism, patriotism and social media (before such a thing existed). She’s honest, vulnerable. And then there are lines like, “anyone can be president.” (I would not have believed this back then....)

I specifically enjoyed her essays on art and writing, and they are worth revisiting.
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I drank every second of this book in. It was so beautifully written and made so many eloquent points that resonated with my soul. Love love love loved it. Everyone go read it now. You don’t have to be a tucsonian to enjoy it, I promise. Go read it. ❤❤❤ ...more
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am such a Barbara Kingsolver fan that it's hard for me to believe I had not read this book. Although it was published in 1995, her thoughts about the state of the world are just as appropriate today as they were then. Thngs haven't changed much!
Kait McNamee
Jan 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a lovely little collection that describes Kingsolver's early life and rocky adult path. It's realistic and she never sugarcoats or apologizes for her success as a writer, which is something I really enjoy since so many women writers are often bashful or shy about their abilities. Kingsolver owns them, and her flaws, and shows that it's okay to have both. I love her for this, and for her frankness about her divorce, her financial struggles and her ability to push on despite them.
Michelle Cristiani
Apr 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs
You know how when you have a really great dessert, sometimes you have to stop between bites to just swirl the taste around in your mouth? No joke; that's what Barbara Kingsolver's writing is like. Sometimes I would put the book down and repeat, out loud, one of her sentences. She's a master at throwing words together. So good, that I sometimes felt I couldn't digest all the beauty on the page.

Despite the unparalleled writing - "Civil Disobedience at Breakfast" is the best piece on having childre
Nov 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fun read - it is interesting to see a personal side of someone you have only read in novels. The book is kind of 'old' now, and the references almost quaint (like how much time the media was spending on OJ Simpson and Tonya Harding), but it's shocking how applicable these observations still are to current times. There is definitely some timeless wisdom in here.

I especially liked this:
"A novel works its magic by putting a reader inside another person's life. The pace is as slow as lif
Suzanne Kittrell
Well, I love this author to begin with and she writes this collection of essays with such insight, humor and, surprisingly to me, scientific details. One of her majors in college was biology, as well as classical piano and literature. Observations about family and America and how to live with humor and grace roll out of her mind and onto the page. The best thing is you don't have to read every one of the essays if you happen not to like or agree with the topic. But her writing is the best. She a ...more
Jul 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This was the my first introduction to non-fiction essay reading and it's been a tough comparison for all subsequent books since then. I have always loved Kingsolver's fiction, feeling like she was able to express character and imagery in such a way that I could actually hear, see, smell, touch, and taste it. This collection of essays was that exact same experience of being present with her in the moment. It probably helps that her idealogies resonant so well with my own - she can just express it ...more
Nov 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, readin10
This book of essays by Barbara Kingsolver is one of those wonderful books that you want to hang on to just in case you need some special inspiration or direction some day when you feel particularly challenged..

Topics have a wide range, covering nature, art, values and ethics, human nature, politics and travels. She ponders the challenges of a two year old, the life of a hermit crab, and book tours and band tours. Kingsolver gives her views on violence in movies and novels that was very intersti
Debra Hale-Shelton
Mar 11, 2009 rated it liked it
Though I grew weary of her evolutionary discussions, I enjoyed her writing, especially when she began an essay with a physical description of an animal, for example, and in the end had related that element to life. .... Sorry, I had trouble wording that though ... obviously. Kingsolver is a good writer who seems as or more comfortable in what she accurately calls "creative non-fiction" as she is in fiction. This was not my favorite Kingsolver work of nonfiction, but I enjoyed it and am glad I re ...more
Jan 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays, memoir
A collection of essays by biologist-turned-writer Barbara Kingsolver on a wide variety of subjects: some political, some about children and raising them, some about the lessons we can learn from the natural world and other cultures and points of view. There are stories about her treks through foreign lands like West Africa or the floor of the Haleakala volcano, and about writing itself. I think I enjoyed her style even more than the substance. There is a lot to learn here about the imaginative u ...more
Nancy Kackley
Feb 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Love this book of essays. She has a wonderful way with language and descriptive phrases that make me smile, like "I was stomping through life in my seven-league boots, entirely unaware of how my life was about to snag on a doorframe, sending me staggering backward, ..." These essays about life, being a writer, a child, a mother, a woman, a human observing nature, a white person visiting Native American lands, really made me think and consider. I want to re-read them in a little while.
Jul 06, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked Kingsolver's fiction so much that I decided to venture into her nonfiction, too, and have been hooked on the personal essay ever since. Here's a collection of essays that are rooted in observation of the everyday life around her that explore topics sometimes at broader levels (as in cultural, societal, and political traits across the country) and sometimes at more specific, detailed levels (as in the essays that go back to her roots in biology).
Dec 31, 2009 rated it it was ok
I keep trying to like Kingsolver. So many people that I like and respect thing so highly of her. So I listened to this as an audiobook, hoping that her speaking voice would endear her to me. While some of her essays had some poignant parts, I found her even more self absorbed than I did before. I fear that I have grown accustomed to really disliking her overly flowery style. Sorry. I tried. That said, her essay about how American's really seem to hate children was spot on.
Aug 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
What a talented women Kingsolver is! Her writing in this book is moving and thought-provoking. So many different topics are covered by this collection of essays: child-rearing, environment, culture, nature, family, politics. Several essays contained passages or lines I want to keep to read again and again--very inspiring.
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Barbara Kingsolver is an American novelist, essayist, and poet. She was raised in rural Kentucky and lived briefly in Africa in her early childhood. Kingsolver earned degrees in Biology at DePauw University and the University of Arizona and worked as a freelance writer before she began writing novels. Her most famous works include The Poisonwood Bible, the tale of a missionary family in the Congo, ...more
“In my own worst seasons I've come back from the colorless world of despair by forcing myself to look hard, for a long time, at a single glorious thing: a flame of red geranium outside my bedroom window. And then another: my daughter in a yellow dress. And another: the perfect outline of a full, dark sphere behind the crescent moon. Until I learned to be in love with my life again. Like a stroke victim retraining new parts of the brain to grasp lost skills, I have taught myself joy, over and over again(15).” 139 likes
“Every one of us is called upon, perhaps many times, to start a new life. A frightening diagnosis, a marriage, a move, loss of a job...And onward full-tilt we go, pitched and wrecked and absurdly resolute, driven in spite of everything to make good on a new shore. To be hopeful, to embrace one possibility after another--that is surely the basic instinct...Crying out: High tide! Time to move out into the glorious debris. Time to take this life for what it is.” 95 likes
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