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A Place In The Woods

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  482 ratings  ·  60 reviews
Helen Hoover and her husband, Adrian, were trailblazers in the American back-to-the-land movement. Well ensconced in their professional lives in Chicago, they made the decision to follow their dream of a simple existence, pulling up their stakes and plunging into the wilds of northern Minnesota.
A Place in the Woods, first published in 1969, describes how the Hoovers
Paperback, 320 pages
Published April 1st 1999 by Univ Of Minnesota Press (first published May 12th 1969)
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P. Lundburg
Aug 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Weird rating for this one: To non-nature readers, this would be a 2. For fans of nature writing, this would be a 4. For you die-hard nature freaks, it'd be a 5. ;-)

This book is not destined to be a widespread classic, but it is a good upper-midwest nature literature fan's must-read. Ms. Hoover and her husband wanted a place in the woods, and bought a cabin that they spent the coming years upgrading and falling more and more in love with. Well, more the location than the cabin itself.
Sep 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: minnesota
I picked this up at least a year ago at a book sale at the church I used to work at. I finally got around to reading it on vacation in Ely.

Written in the late 1960s, A Place in the Woods is Ms. Hoover's account of the first year she and her husband spent in their new home in the north woods of Minnesota, in 1954.

I have to admit I didn't know how lovely the book was going to be. I expected it to be full of dated opinions on nature and women's roles. I was happily surprised
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I don't think I can review A Place in the Woods in a way that will make you realize just how good this book is, so do yourself a favor and please read it. Written in 1969, Helen Hoover details the trials, tribulations, and happiness she and her husband experienced with their own cabin in the woods. This book stands apart from many others of the same genre because she recounts all of this honestly and beautifully, including the positives and negatives, along with the hard work of it all. There are tim ...more
Randall Reynolds
Nov 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
One of the most beautiful books I have ever read. Having also owned 2 mountain homes it was as if I had written it myself! I have read it over and over through the years. I highly recommend it to anyone who has wanted to experience owning a 'cabin in the woods'. From the sound of the wind sweeping through the fir trees around your mountain home, to the treasured forest friends who come to your deck to be fed, to the plop of snow as it falls on your roof on winter's night-- Helen Hoover reveals a ...more
This is the story of how a suburban couple leaves all the comforts of modern civilization, in order to experience the beauty of the Minnesota wilderness. The book takes on a "Little House on the Prairie" quality, as Helen Hoover details the struggles she and her husband go through as they learn to cope without electricity, close neighbors, and access to the amenities of modern life. She describes the breathtaking scenery beautifully, but her true gift is in bringing the animals to... (show more ...more
Feb 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
I got this book many years ago as one of those Readers Digest condensed books. I loved it back then & years later I struggled trying to recall the authors name & the name of the book but it wasn't until the internet came along that I was able to find it.
With nothing more to go on except I was sure The Woods was a part of the title - I finally found it & was able to read it again. And again I found I loved this book.
Helen & her husband Adrian leave their jobs & the
Feb 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pioneer-memoirs
There are many books written by people who decide to pursue a lifestyle closer to nature, but rarely has there ever been a couple so inept as author Helen Hoover and her husband Adrian. They gave up their jobs in the city of Chicago, and purchased a cabin in northern Minnesota in 1954, without being aware that they needed a source of heat during the winter. I kid you not. Nevertheless, she is honest about their failings, and writes very entertainingly. The couple resided in the back woods for 16 ...more
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Helen Hoover's writing about nature is exquisite and unlike anything I have read before. I could smell the pine and the balsam, I could feel the lake breezes on my face and sense the quiet of snow falling in the forest, I could vividly picture the wildlife.
In addition to writing about the beauty and serenity of living off the grid in the forest, she wrote about the hardships she and her husband endured. I know I couldn't do what they did and am more appreciative of things like electricity, cen
Mar 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
I picked this book because it fit the bill of my people-who-get-away-to-the-country books (a book to help me dream of joining them) but this book was actually about getting away from it ALL. Wow! Two people who worked in Chicago chucking all the mod cons to live in a summer cabin in Minnesota year 'round. A SUMMER CABIN, people. Great writing and a glimpse into an experience I would love to theory. Thank god we can read books and feel like we've done it without having to actually do i ...more
Jan 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I love to read accounts of people who set out to live somewhere new, particularly when it is in a remote and rustic location. This account of the Hoover's moving to northern Minnesota is one of my favorites. It describes the many struggles and triumphs the author and her husband faced after leaving successful careers as engineers to live a rustic lifestyle in the north woods. I love this book and have read it several times.
Feb 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I didn't expect to enjoy this book as much as I did, but it was wonderfully refreshing. It doesn't pretend to be philosophical but there are some profound insights into Man's relationship with the natural world. It almost made me want to move to the Big Woods somewhere.
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, nature-loving
author's descriptions of nature are amazing, and her husband did the artwork to boot. I really enjoyed this book! perfect for nature lovers or back-to-the-basics living enthusiasts.
JoAnne Monahan
Sep 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book will have you wishing to live with someone you love in the woods far away from all the stress and hassle of our regular lives.
Jane Wolfe
Jun 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Hoover writes honestly about creating a home in the North Woods in the late 1950's. She certainly doesn't romanticize living off the grid. Hoover's thoughts in the forward about writing about animals, including anthropomorphism, are thought provoking. Adrian Hoover's beautiful pen and ink illustrations are a treat. I found this book (nature writing) to be an easy summer read.
Jean Carlton
I live in Minnesota and have a cabin in the woods in which to escape during the warm months, even then only for a few days or a week, so I found myself picturing our place as she described their adventures. I know that my husband and I would never choose such a path or be able to stick it out if we tried. Helen and Ade had to be equally dedicated to the idea of doing without such things as warmth, electricity and reliable access to food. And they sure did seem to get along just fine. All the tim ...more
Oct 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
In the mid-1950's Helen and Adrian Hoover left their professional life in Chicago behind and bought some land and a log cabin in the Minnesota wilderness on the banks of Lake Superior.

"A Place in the Woods" was Helen's description of their struggles, disasters, challenges and triumphs as the couple created a new way of life among the numerous animals and much less numerous people living miles away.

Helen's writing style was easy, natural and sometimes lyrical. You can tell
Sep 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
In 1959, Helen Hoover, a chemist, and her husband Ade, an artist, left city life in Chicago for life in a remote section of Minnesota. They moved into a ram-shackled cabin with no electricity, running water, or nearby grocery store, not to mention no toilet. One calamity after another ensues, trees falling on the cabin, a spring flood destroying their foundation, a car wreck, a fire, etc., so there is plenty to keep you entertained. She describes the animals they befriend and the nature surround ...more
Jul 21, 2009 rated it liked it
Very interesting true story of a city couple from Chicago who move to the north woods of MN in 1954. It bogs down in a lot of unnecessary details, and leaves out some necessary ones. And (cynical me) I couldn't help but ask myself throughout the whole book: Were they REALLY this likeable and loveable that everyone in the area wanted to help them and do things for them for free all the time. Were their neighbors really all that generous and selfless in wanting to help them succeed? Although they ...more
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was my late Mother's book. She loved this book! I can see why and I believe that my Mom & Dad did exactly what Helen Hoover and her husband did! The Hoover's had lives in Chicago back in the '60's and wanted to move to a cabin in the woods. (my parents did the same thing in the '70's from FL to CO and indeed ended up living in a cabin in the woods! Incidentally, my mom wrote her name inside the book with '1974' by it) A nice memoir of Helen Hoover's day to day life and trials. Isolation ...more
Mar 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
As a previous reviewer said, if you are a nature lover you will probably like this book.
The timing is important, this was published in the 1960's so the previous twenty years and later ones in the wild for this writer and her husband, were seemingly a struggle but a beautiful one amid the wilds of Minnesota. Myself, growing up in the same timeline in Wisconsin, I can see the truth in what she writes and wish I could have been with her then, with the introspection of knowing what I have and beli
Sep 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
Helen Hoover and her husband Adrian left successful careers in Chicago to live in the woods of northern Minnesota in the 1950's. In this book, she recounts their decision to make the move and the events of their first year. Hoover's prose is elegant and often poetic, particularly in her descriptions of the wildlife and the scenery. Her eye for the smallest detail brings this isolated area to life for the reader. It's hard to imagine life without electricity, indoor plumbing, or regular mail or p ...more
Feb 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nature-books
Darling, touching book about an educated couple who were quite ahead of their time (even by today's standards) who went off into the isolated big woods to live off the grid.

Firstly, no one INTENTIONALLY did that back then (1930's-40's). Also, Helen was not your ordinary housewife, but an educated engineer.

The first part of the book is so gripping, and you can't believe how everything went wrong, yet how she stood and kept her sanity.

Well, worth the read. Even
Donna Hendricks
Dec 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is the kind of book I love--a real couple, Helen and Ade, who are looking for something--a cabin in the woods. They found just the place: a rustic cabin with lots of problems: a bear tried to get in the trap door, they had to carry up water from Lake Superior, there was no full size bed. Oh well, it was perfect for them and they bought it. I just loved all the details and how they found ways to survive in the wilderness.
Jan 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I'm doing that thing I do where I read two or three books at a time. Never ends well. I need discipline...

* I finished this book a week or so ago. I loved it. The author tells the the true story of her first year living off the grid with her husband in northern Minnesota, after a somewhat rash decision to quit their jobs and just do it. It was awesome. What an experience. And, that fact that this all happened in the fifties was even more amazing. I hope to live that dream someday...
Aug 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
My grandmother gave me this book to read saying it was one of the things that inspired her to live in the mountains. It's a beautifully written memoir about a woman and her husband who decide to leave the city life in Chicago and live in the woods. Personally, all the things that happened to them stressed me out beyond belief. I would have ran back to the city after the first chapter and never looked back. But different strokes for different folks.
Oct 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is kind of a story of survival in northern Minnesota. A couple impulsively quits their jobs and buys a rustic cabin in the woods. Nothing really bad happens but they do have a number of unexpected mishaps. They have to figure out a lot the hard way but fortunately people living in the area are pretty helpful when they need it the most. I liked reading about their encounters with nature and was inspired by their patience and perseverance.
Apr 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
The perfect book to finish on Earth Day. But, oh boy - while I deeply loved this story I am not about to head off to the wilds of Northern Minnesota. The honesty with which this book is written makes you realize just how hard life without amenities is. The writing is beautiful. I highly recommend.
Dec 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful look at living in the northwoods of MN in the mid 1950's on a shoe string budget and when your background is big city Chicago. The description of the seasons, the ups and downs of learning to live in the wilds, the introspection of the author makes it a terrific read.
Brad Erickson
Jan 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Absolutely delightful; a surprise and wonderful Christmas gift from my wife. If you are interested in Minnesota northwoods living, and in particular, roughing it out there, this is a good read. Of course, I don't think anyone is living like this anymore.
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