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Essential Muir: A Selection of John Muir's Best Writings

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  183 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
Cultural Writing. Essays. Preservationist. Inventor. Lobbyist. John Muir was many things at once, and he is California's best-known icon- so much so that his image was chosen to appear on the new state quarter. But the best way to know the man who founded the Sierra Club and helped create Yosemite National Park is to read his own words. ESSENTIAL MUIR is the second volume ...more
Paperback, 131 pages
Published May 24th 2006 by Heyday Books (first published April 1st 2006)
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Diane S ☔
Mar 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
An avid journal writer, most of his essays are taken from these journals. What an amazing man, so many varied interests, never knew he was a young inventor. This is a sampling from many different stages in his life, from his harsh upbringing with his very Christian father, to his leaving home and finding his way with little in the way of funds. Loved the introduction. The explanations of how the book was divided and what it meant. His love of life shines through as does his enquiring nature in a ...more
Susan Thompson
Nov 17, 2017 rated it liked it
While I liked the stories of Muir's childhood in Scotland and Wisconsin, I found his descriptions of nature very tedious and hard to get through.
Feb 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
About the guy who founded Sierra Club. Essays about his life. They're interesting but I'm not into non fiction or biography and some of his stories about inventing and being out in nature seem pretty far fetched. A neighbor gave me this to read.
Oct 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"In these bits of leafiness a few birds find grateful homes. Having no acquaintance with man, they fear no ill, and flick curiously about the stranger, almost allowing themselves to be taken in the hand. In so wild and so beautiful a region was spent my first day, every sight and sound inspiring, leading one far out of himself, yet feeding and building up his individuality." (42-3)

"Grandly do my logs give back their light, slow gleaned from suns of a hundred summers, garnered beautifully away in
Oct 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Muir's writing is very lovely, full of great descriptions and utter enthusiasm for his surroundings. Also included in this collection were excerpts from his autobiography, The Story of My Boyhood and Youth, which was a fascinating look at his strict religious upbringing and his desire to explore and invent new things. As White says in his introduction, when most people think of John Muir, they think of an old barefoot hippie who lives in the mountains and climbs trees in windstorms. While he ind ...more
Lauren Adams
Aug 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, classics
I hadn't read Muir before and I knew he was somewhat of a sensation. This collection was of journal entries—of writings he never intended others to read. There's a lot of scientific description mixed in with poetic awe. I preferred the latter. Muir is a free verse poet in his descriptions of a wind storm or waterfall or bird's flight. It was surprisingly a lot of effort to get through this short book though since only about 20% of the writing was that. I'd be curious to read one of his published ...more
Jul 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
A nice sampler that adds some depth to the grizzled man behind the bristly beard. It turns out Muir got his start in the world by inventing wondrous contraptions: an alarm-bed that actually tilted you out of bed in the morning, a studying-desk which would open textbooks at the proper intervals. And he rhapsodizes, rhapsodizes about nature before his words are turned to the more dire and immediate tasks of saving the wilderness. This anthology did its job, which was to make me want to read more a ...more
Nov 17, 2013 rated it liked it
A collection of various essays by Muir ranging from stories of his youth to the ecstatic worship of Nature that he is best known for. Engrossing stuff even if his experiences of ecstasy from merely smelling a sequoia tree can get a little weird. Nonetheless, this guy embodied the ideals of the mountaineer and the backpacker. Very much worth a read if only to learn that Muir was a gifted writer and deeply insightful on the role of wilderness in the human experience.
Mindi Bennett
Aug 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
I highly, highly recommend this book! Even if you think you have no interest in botany, or Muir's inventions, or his study of glaciers in Yosemite, or poetry, or anything good and should let this book change your mind. As Muir says, "...every lover of wildness will rejoice with me".
Jun 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
My interest in this book changed with each subject. I found myself much more interested in the stories of his youth and of his travels. For my taste his writings about Yosemite were too joyful, and he concentrated on the drama of the rocks and moraines but played down the adverse circumstances of his own wanderings.
Jan 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Reminds me a lot of Charles Derwin's style in the voyage of the beagle, just less dragged out. Really inspires you to have a much closer and deeper look at the nature around you. Some of his journeys are so epic that it keeps you reading along and wondering: has the man really shrunk since we had people like Muir?
Jun 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Of course the place I found to finish this book was leaned against a massive old redwood tree.

Muir was wild and alive and his writing is both fascinating and inspiring because it is filled with such genuine love for the world.
Karissa Goellner
This book is hard to rate because I felt very differently about each section. Some, I would've given a 4, where as others would have only gotten a 1. Muir has some resonating quotations and I love how his mind seems to have worked, but I did find myself skimming some sections.
Feb 05, 2010 added it
On the second chapter...
Jan 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
Ahead of his time in many ways, his last essay about the importance of preventing deforestation was particularly prescient.
Amber T.
Apr 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
He really loved plants. I love how in the beginning he talks about plants, gets ill, recovers, and then talks about plants some more.
Oct 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
Essential indeed.
Leigh Sinclair
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Oct 22, 2017
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Jan 21, 2018
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Dec 09, 2014
rated it it was ok
Oct 14, 2015
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Feb 17, 2013
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Dec 29, 2017
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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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