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The Wilderness World of John Muir

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  938 ratings  ·  96 reviews
John Muir's extraordinary vision of America comes to life in these fascinating selections from his personal journals. 

As a conservationist, John Muir traveled through most of the American wilderness alone and on foot, without a gun or a sleeping bag. In 1903, while on a three-day camping trip with President Theodore Roosevelt, he convinced the president of the importance o
Paperback, 352 pages
Published August 20th 2001 by Mariner Books (first published 1954)
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Dec 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american-lit
For Muir's early life, see my review of Thousand Mile Walk, say his Scottish father refusing to pay for Muir's university training (Wisconsin), so he drops out and walks to the Gulf, sleeping outside, especially in cemeteries. A bit of that first book's in this collection.
Muir liked reading Emerson, whom I often aloudread in my birdbook talks (particularly his verses, "The Titmouse," about a Chickadee's bravery in a winter storm, saying like Caesar, "Ve-ni vi-di vi-c(h)i." Years later in the Si
Mar 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite quotes is from John Muir.

"The mountains are calling and I must go."

This is on a sticker that is on my hiking water bottle and it is the clarion call that rallies us for our annual vacation in Colorado. And though I love the quote, I had never read anything by Muir. This book was my introduction, it did not disappoint.

A few thoughts on Muir. First, he was a very good story teller and a great thinker. My favorite story from this collection was "Stickeen," the tale of Muir, a li
Oct 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
One of my favourite books of all time. Muir is a tour de force. His casual easy-going writing style and his zest for life and all things natural are captivating in and of themselves but the true value of this book is the close-up view it provides of Muir's humble beginnings and unlikely rise to prominence. He faced considerably more obstacles than most of us, being pulled out of school early to work on the family farm for an ungrateful father and heading out into the world with virtually no mone ...more
Allison Keith
Jun 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Muir's writing is some of my favourite. I love his deep, passionate connection to the land and the lyricism with which he details that connection. John Muir was a brilliant writer whose ardent love of the wilderness reads vibrantly, poetically, and movingly. His writing is about his own connection to the land, but it is written in an impeccably universal way without pretentiousness or arrogance. Beautiful and engrossing. ...more
Aug 08, 2013 rated it liked it
"I have a low opinion of books; they are but piles of stones set up to show coming travelers where other minds have been, or at best signal smokes to call attention. . . No amount of word-making will ever make a single soul to know these mountains. As well seek to warm the naked and frostbitten by lectures on caloric and pictures of flame. One day's exposure to mountains is better than cartloads of books. See how willingly Nature poses herself upon photographers' plates. No earthly chemicals are ...more
Feb 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
No book and no man has so enriched my already deep love of nature like Muir. He makes me crave to learn more, and appreciate more, the beauty in our world.
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Heartbreaking to finish this book after hearing today that Yosemite burns.

The man can turn a phrase! From lovely alliteration, “...groans and tears, mingled with morbid exultation; burial companies, black in cloth and countenance; and, last of all, a black box burial in an ill-omened place, haunted by imaginary glooms and ghosts of every degree,” to poetry-in-prose, “Like the bluebirds they dared every danger in defense of home, and we often wondered that birds so gentle could be so bold and tha
Aug 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love John Muir for his brilliant mind, his deep respect and awe of God's creations, and his beautiful words. What a truly special and talented and spiritual man. I would have loved to hang out with him in Yosemite back in the day. I loved this book, loved getting to know him. I'm a superfan and will stand in line to meet him in heaven.

PS I don't necessarily recommend this book. You have to want to read this. The descriptions are lengthy and if you aren't swept up in it, you would probably wan
Rachel Fisher
May 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“‘There,’ said I, addressing my feet, to whose separate skill I had learned to trust night and day on any mountain, ‘that is what you get by intercourse with stupid town stairs, and dead pavements.’”
Dec 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel, 2018
Sometimes his book read like a 3 when he was describing bird or tree species, and other times it read like a 5 when when describing his growing up, his inventions, the first time he saw Yosemite valley, or some of his other adventures. Regardless he was an extraordinary man who led an extraordinary life and seemed to connect with the wild like no other.
Ginebra Lavao Lizcano
Jan 28, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: biology
I hope I can come back to this book in a few years and love it more as language barriers have stopped me from deeply engaging into Muir’s writings. Still, it is a beautiful philosophy towards Nature and he shall be credited for it. I am impressed at how he managed to live 76 years on mostly bread and tea. One day I shall honor him and get into the wild to sleep under the sky, without a sleeping bag or anything else than myself. I’ll toast to him with a good piece of hard bread.
Jul 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing
John Muir is otherworldly.
Ciahnan Darrell
Nov 21, 2020 rated it liked it
I was a minister for a number of years, and an avid reader of theology. I no longer serve in that capacity, read theology, or claim the Christian faith, but there is a great resonance between The Wilderness World and theology, in the fervency with which they declare their orthodoxies, in the ecstasies they achieve, and the means by which they achieve them. Muir admits no doubt in his faith in the intrinsic value, healing, and propaedeutic qualities of nature, and his expression of these creeds a ...more
Sep 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
I didn't know much about John Muir before I read this, just that he had something to do with the Sierra Club, and so must've been an outdoorsman. What an fascinating guy! As a young man, he was an inventor. Among other things, he made an alarm clock that tilted his bed and dumped him on the floor! He walked from Wisconsin to Florida, he regularly camped with almost no supplies--certainly not the things we think of as necessary for survival today. He was an amazing observer of wildlife--Jane Good ...more
Kevin McCarthy
Dec 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Muir's almost shocking commitment to the wilderness is incredible to read. Nowadays, we would probably call someone like him crazy; but in reading his thoughts and observations from years in the woods, it's hard not to wonder if we're the crazy ones for living so much of our lives in ignorance of nature. If nothing else, reading John Muir will tempt you with the call to get out into the wild: "Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows int ...more
Jul 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
John Muir's writing is exquisite. His descriptions of Nature and natural phenomena are so passionate that you can't help but take more notice of the world around you and go out to enjoy what Nature has to offer. ...more
Marjorie Ploeger
Jul 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Putting my reaction to this book into words that give it justice is difficult when it contains so many of my feelings toward our society's lost connection with nature. As humans we are connected and affected by mother nature more than we may realize, and need her therapeutic care to deal with the vicissitudes of life. Additionally, as a society we have become so indoctrinated with the idea only individuals that leave a mark in this world live purposeful lives, that we have lost sight of the powe ...more
Brian Gormley
Jul 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
4.0 out of 5. I enjoyed this book - edited highlights of Muir’s writing. Having struggled to finish Travels in Alaska by the same author, it was a joy to read a book that was well curated, and where the pieces were chosen specifically for being of interest or particularly well written. (The book notes that Muir never tired of talking of glaciers - and in Travels in Alaska he’s a bit of a glacier bore!).
Muir’s early life is fascinating - he endured a lot of hardship from his father. His inventive
Jasmine Shadows
Aug 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
I confess that this book was a little difficult to review. I vacillated between three and four. Only because there were some spots that were rather dry and drug on a little further than I felt was needed. However, I truly appreciated Muir's wonder of the natural world. I also appreciated that he acknowledged the wonder of it all in the Creator. He even found wonder in an earthquake. There were a few chapters that I found a little on the dry side. There are also a few things in his philosophy tha ...more
T.J. Burr
Sep 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: naturalist
Wonderful Archive of Wilderness Experiences

I admire how John Muir raises the wilderness experience to a spiritual and philosophical level. It was something I could identify with from my own adventures in the wild. If you feel that your church (place of worship) occurs when you are in touch with nature, then you will appreciate John’s perspectives. Even though I enjoy and respect all of our wild places, I must admit that John Muir went deeper into the woods than I have ever ventured. We are fortu
Matthew Boak
When I purchased this book I knew that I can sometimes struggle keeping focused on reads that are very descriptive, but I knew what I was in for with this one. This collection of pieces and parts of all Muir's books acts as a great starting point for anyone who is interested in learning more about Muir's writings. There are selections from the beginning of his writing career all the way to the end. You can tell how much Muir appreciates and loves nature through the ways in which he recounts his ...more
Dec 30, 2011 rated it it was ok
John Muir hated the time he had to spend locked inside to laboriously write. He hated it. Apparently he struggled sentence by sentence. Giving this book a bad rating feels like the worst blasphemy known to man, because he is a hero in the capital-letters- BOLDest-font-available definition of HERO. After being forced to stay inside writing once in Oakland for 10 months, he almost died by falling off a cliff, and then punished himself by sleeping not on the fragrant forest floor with pine needles ...more
Megan Smith
Oct 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
I started this book long ago when I bought it on a trip to Powell’s. I thought it would be inspiring to read on a train trip home...however I did not make it far. I finally finished it this year while trying to make my way through my to be read stack. It still took me quite a long time to finish. I think I would have looked reading one of John Muirs books instead of this which is an organized collection of a few selections in themes. It was hard to pick back up because it wanted a through story. ...more
Amna Hamid
Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"I felt completely lost in the vast throngs of people, the noise of the streets, and the immense size of the buildings. Often, I thought I would like to explore the city, if, like a lot of wild hills and valleys, it was clear of inhabitants" •
I have a fondness towards journals of old. There is a vulnerability that is let out only in those pages that tell you everything about that person; fooling you into thinking you knew them, even if just a little. This book is an example.
JohnMuir and A Thou
May 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: could-not-finish
John Muir's writing is lovely, very poetic AND he was long-winded. I consider him the Charles Dickens of nature writers. I got bored reading page after page of excruciating details about trees and birds. I finally skimmed the book and read the writings that most appealed to me based on the chapter introductions. My favorites were his story about Stickeen the dog as well as his general conservation philosophies included in the end. ...more
Marjie C-O
Jun 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It is difficult to imagine anyone surpassing John Muir in truly beautiful, ecstatic, observant, intelligent and genuinely loving accountings of the natural world.

"The grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls."
Judith Witzig
Jun 30, 2021 marked it as to-read
What a treat to find this on our bookshelf. Muir transports you into the Sierras. I could see it, hear it and, for me, smell those wonderful chaparral and pine smells. Having hiked some of those same trails, his descriptions brought it rushing back to me. Our edition came out fir the 100th anniversary of the Yosemite conservancy and the photos are exceptional. I savoured a few pages each night after crawling into bed. Read this and you will want to visit.
Sep 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really liked the short story format of this book. I was really struck by all of the high risk adventures that JM did in his days. There were also a handful of questionable decisions he made with others lives at risk that was concerning. His observations and ability to describe nature took me outdoors every-time I cracked open this book.
Dec 04, 2017 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed reading this book. All the Adventures that he went through was exciting to read about. I wonder if he ever had the thoughts of giving up on any of them. Or if he ever got scared that he was going to die. I really like this book.
Sam DeLeon
Oct 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A great book that tells the story of John Muir and how he grew a love for the great outdoors. Though this book you get a grasp of how Muir lived his life and an understanding of how he perceives the world and it’s mysteries.
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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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