Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “My First Summer in the Sierra” as Want to Read:
My First Summer in the Sierra
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

My First Summer in the Sierra

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  5,965 ratings  ·  500 reviews
In the summer of 1869, John Muir, a young Scottish immigrant, joined a crew of shepherds in the foothills of California's Sierra Nevada Mountains. The diary he kept while tending sheep formed the heart of this book and eventually lured thousands of Americans to visit Yosemite country.

First published in 1911, My First Summer in the Sierra incorporates the lyrical accounts a
Paperback, 160 pages
Published November 17th 2004 by Dover Publications (first published 1911)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about My First Summer in the Sierra, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about My First Summer in the Sierra

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.08  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,965 ratings  ·  500 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of My First Summer in the Sierra
Jason Koivu
Jun 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
My First Summer in the Sierra chronicles John Muir’s first summer in the Yosemite River Valley from June through September 1869. He was thirty-one years old. He accompanied a small group of men and a flock of sheep 2050 strong; they were to be fattened up in the valley. I am speaking of the sheep of course! Muir would sketch and observe the flora and fauna and the land. He came to return to the valley numerous times, but this time was his first.

What is written is in diary format; day by day he r
Jul 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to WhatIReallyRead by: Cheryl Strayed
Here I could stay tethered forever with just bread and water, nor would I be lonely; loved friends and neighbors, as love for everything increased, would seem all the nearer however many the miles and mountains between us.

"My First Summer in the Sierra" is a naturalist's diary detailing an 1869 hike in Sierra Nevada Mountains. John Muir accompanied shepherds for four months, observing and taking notes about the nature of the Yosemite region and the High Sierra.

His journal contains both romanti
Feb 14, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Jan 02, 2021 added it
I had this feeling I was reading Thoreau gone Cali. Here, Mr. Muir reports on his Yosemite summer internship as aide-de-camp to a shepherd and his successors, moving more than 2000 sheep through high country pasture. Carlo, the faithful St. Bernard, is ever close by, providing Mr. Muir with sufficient companionship throughout his experience. Beware bears, especially once they’ve realized fresh mutton is on the menu. Mr. Muir recounts the story of “Portuguese Joe” and his sidekick Antone who work ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
My First Summer in the Sierra is a diary naturalist John Muir kept during the first summer he spent in the Sierra Mountains. He worked as a sheepherder, but he had a lot of time to observe nature, write about nature, and to make pictures of nature.

I was taken by Muir's knowledge of nature and his detailed observational skills. He is also a brilliant writer, with fresh comparisons and surprising thoughts.
Dec 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nature, memoir
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
May 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
I have been feeling the weight of the world lately. Two years of pandemic, the state of politics, everything going to shit all over the place. I feel stagnant, and sad, and cranky basically all the time. Plus, it's February, which we all know is the worst month. So I thought this might be a good palette cleanser, a meditation on the beauty of the world.

Unfortunately, somehow, it had the opposite effect.

I thought of all the beautiful places humans have ruined and we continue to ruin them. All the
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 Pa
Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-biography
Andrea Wulf's totally awesome biography of Alexander Von Humboldt brought me to this book. There is an entire chapter near the end of the Wulf book on Von Humboldt's influence on John Muir.

I downloaded a free copy of this book directly to my ebook reader in the Kindle store, but you can also find a free download of this book in a variety of formats from the Gutenberg Project, find it in the form of a 57-page, single-spaced, narrow-margined .pdf document at Yosemite Online, or read it online, cha
Mar 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
Everyone knows about the immense contributions of John Muir to the cause of environmental preservation. It’s obvious that we’re all better off because of him. However, I’ve increasingly come to believe that he has saddled the environmental movement with the inherently defeatist perception that all human influence is inherently deleterious to nature, that nature can only be destroyed, never restored, by human action. He perceives humans as alien to the earth, rather than as a part of it. In My Fi ...more
Graham Mills
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
I like John Muir, and he's a very elegant and talented writer. In the first 50 pages you are treated to beautiful descriptions of the grandeur, beauty, mysteries, and godliness of his wanderings in the Yosemite area. It fills your heart, mind and soul with wonder and makes you want to cast off the shackles of city living and go wandering. It's great, and if the book ended there it would be great too. But it goes on for another +200 pages and it's all the same. I felt like I was just reading the ...more
Callum McAllister
Jul 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The man loves nature.
Feb 13, 2021 rated it liked it
A solid 3.5 stars - Simply put this was a lovely read. Muir's writing was quite beautiful and consistently made me smile while reading it. Definitely a different read for me as it was non-fiction, but I still enjoyed it. Highly recommend keeping Google nearby as I was always looking up different plants he focused on or trails he mentioned. I am a visual person, so it helped me keep up with his journey.

This book also gave me the hiking/travel bug - I have been to Yosemite before and a bit in the
Sep 14, 2020 added it
Shelves: non-fiction
Though this book has some very lovely descriptions of trees, mountains and waterfalls, it's a rather innocuous text about one man's summer in Yosemite with a lot of sheep. But stepping back, it's easy to see how Muir would be so hugely influential in American conservationism. His passion for wilderness really shines through these pages, and combined with his Romantic style, I can imagine how strongly Muir's words would have struck wealthy Americans living in grimy cities.

Muir is part of a strong
Aug 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Though to the outer ear these trees are silent, their songs never cease. Every hidden cell is throbbing with music and life, every fibre thrilling like harp strings, while incense is ever flowing from the balsam bells and leaves. No wonder the hills and groves were God's first temples, and the more they are cut down and hewn into cathedrals and churches, the farther off and dimmer seems the Lord himself.

John Muir loved nature, probably as much or more than any person who has ever lived. Natu
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nature
"Excited by the mountain air this morning, I feel like shouting in excess of wild, animal joy."

As someone who's had the immense luxury of spending a summer in the mountains, I could very much relate to this book. Even so, I have a hard time imagining that anyone would be left unmoved by Muir's captivating descriptions of mountains, waters, plants, animals and outdoor life. The sheer reverence for all things wild seeping through his every word ought to be enough to incline the hardest of city-hea
An incredible book! A tour through a world that no longer exists, leading the reader with joy and humbleness through one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

The writing style is much different than the one generally used today, but it still gives the reader an intimate entry into the Range of Light with all it's variables and moods. If time travel is discovered while I'm alive, this is where I'm going! And I may not come back ...
Jay C
Jun 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
Inspired writing by one of history’s most famous lovers of nature. Of personal interest to me, as someone who has visited Yosemite, hiked Mt. Dana, and floated in the salty waters of Mono Lake. Muir is quite quotable in this book and I wore out my highlighter function in my kindle. :)
Matt Slaven
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
These memoirs reinvigorated an appreciation for nature that I didn’t realize I had. It is a beautiful and entertaining look into a unique mind.
Barksdale Penick
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Like no other book. Highly personal yet scientifically informed journal of a summer high in the Sierras. While reading it I happened to walk down a forested path (near Yosemite) and I noticed the greenery next to the path were ferns. I might not have noticed that had I not been reading John Muir--he makes you notice the natural world around every step.

The writing evolved as the book progressed, with more artful and charming passages later. But the basic structure is constant--Muir notes the wea
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh my god I love John Muir, my new favourite botanist. He's not replacing anyone, I didn't previously have a favourite botanist and didn't know I needed one in my life.

Turns out I did and it's this wonderful man, part botanist, part scholar, erstwhile inventor, occasional shepherd, writer, campaigner and general all round lunatic. This book tells the tale of a summer trip into the Sierra Nevada mountains, or the mountains of light, as he prefers to call them. He went with a gang of sheep farmers
Tyler Pursley
Jun 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
"No wonder the hills and groves were God's first temples, and the more they are cut down and hewn into cathedrals and churches, the farther off and dimmer seems the Lord himself." ...more
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
Muir describes his tagging along with a group of sheep herds taking a flock of sheep up the mountains for a season to graze them on high grass. Muir tends to describe everything natural that he sees as beautiful, from flickers to squirrels to fir trees to black ants. He splits his time describing about everything he sees in equal measure, and includes some little stories if he can. The book is written in diary format, following the trip up, then back in the end. While mostly about nature, Muir a ...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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
LDS Earth Steward...: My First Summer in the Sierra 2 12 Mar 20, 2019 05:14AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Add book to this quote 2 18 Jan 07, 2017 08:17AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Desert Solitaire
  • A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There
  • Encounters with the Archdruid
  • The Immense Journey
  • The Snow Leopard
  • Thoughts from Walden Pond
  • Coming Into the Country
  • Son of the Wilderness: The Life of John Muir
  • The Monkey Wrench Gang (Monkey Wrench Gang, #1)
  • Unlost: A journey of self-discovery and the healing power of the wild outdoors
  • The Wind Is My Mother
  • The Great North Road: London to Edinburgh – 11 Days, 2 Wheels and 1 Ancient Highway
  • Silent Spring
  • Eiger Dreams: Ventures Among Men and Mountains
  • JFK and the unspeakable: Why he died and why it matters
  • The Iceberg
  • Walden
  • She Had Some Horses
See similar books…
See top shelves…
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

Related Articles

Spring is finally here, thank the gods. That was a rough winter.   To celebrate the year’s greenest season, we’ve gathered here the best new...
111 likes · 21 comments
“We are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us.” 327 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.” 261 likes
More quotes…