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My First Summer in the Sierra

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  5,242 ratings  ·  413 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
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Paperback, 160 pages
Published November 17th 2004 by Dover Publications (first published 1911)
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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...

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If it weren't for Muir these living trees, some of which have been here longer than the pyramids, may have been cut down...

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To look at a map of the United States, one would get the impression that moving we
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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
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Chrissie
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
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WhatIReallyRead
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
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Kathy
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
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Jamie
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
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Ben
Dec 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, nature
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
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
Cee
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
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David
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
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Callum McAllister
Jul 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The man loves nature.
MargaretDH
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
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Kurt
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
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Winterdragon
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
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Kate
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 ...
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
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Dougie
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
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William
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
Stephen
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
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Nick Klagge
Jun 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I have considered myself a big John Muir fan for a while, but this is easily the best thing I've read by him, and it's what I would recommend to anyone new to him. It's extremely accessible and is just what it says on the cover--a diary account of the first summer Muir spent in the Sierra (Tuolumne Meadow area), as some sort of supervisor to a shepherd taking a herd of sheep up into the mountains. (Muir does virtually no discernible work over the course of the book.) It was especially nice for m ...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
Helen
Aug 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: librivox-books
I read this several years ago and thought I might enjoy listening to it this time as it is on librivox. The reader is excellent. I love this journal style of writing, but it isn't for everyone. It made me chuckle when I realized that a walk through Yosemite with John Muir would have been a little bit like a walk with Bob Ross, that "Joy of Painting" guy. His gushing is as entertaining as the plants and animals he describes! John Muir must be the only man alive who could gush over finding housefl ...more
Sean Blake
John Muir, America's favourite Scotsman, writes so beautifully and eloquently in this passionate book on the Sierra wilderness. It's playful, philosophical, poetic, scientific and very hard to put down. Read Muir singing the songs of Robert Burns to squirrels, encounter bears, describe the colourful plant life that surrounds him, engage with Native Americans and surrender his soul to the transcending beauty that is Nature. His philosophical passages had an incredibly inspiring impact on me, and ...more
Els
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: purchased, favorites
I love John Muir. We're probably long-separated twins. By a couple hundred years.

Muir, and/or Me: This waterfall will kill me if I take three more steps.
Muir, and/or Me: But the poetry of the falls.....
Muir, and/or Me: *finds absolutely impossible handhold and hangs over Yosemite Falls for an HOUR*
Muir, and/or Me: *spends rest of day high*
Muir, and/or Me:: *can't sleep for the next TWO WEEKS because he has nightmares about something he had zero fear doing*
Muir, and/or Me: I should probably be mo
...more
Rose
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you've ever spent some time outside in nature and just been overwhelmed by it, you'll understand how John Muir feels. It's also neat to see nature writing from a time before ecology, before Teddy Roosevelt, etc. There's also some really funny parts. I recommend you listen to this book when you're driving through the wilderness if possible.
Erin
Aug 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Amazing vivid descriptions of the beauty, details, and sweeping landscapes of the Sierra Nevada mountains. I was surprised to find that instead of a dry or stoic tone, Muir uses grand romantic language to describe his surroundings, but after adjusting to the frankly Victorian tone I actually found the narrative delightful.
John
Oct 25, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a DNF for me. I love the Sierra Nevada and was hoping that this would capture my fancy, but it was not to be. It is beautifully written, but just didn't do much for me and I ran out of renewals at the library so I gave up on it.
Marty
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great read

I just love detailed descriptive books about the outdoors . The named locations within the park takes reader to the exact location is just beautiful
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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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“We are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us.” 313 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.” 258 likes
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