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The Outermost House: A Year of Life On The Great Beach of Cape Cod

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  1,828 Ratings  ·  289 Reviews
The seventy-fifth anniversary edition of the classic book about Cape Cod, "written with simplicity, sympathy, and beauty" (New York Herald Tribune)

A chronicle of a solitary year spent on a Cape Cod beach, The Outermost House has long been recognized as a classic of American nature writing. Henry Beston had originally planned to spend just two weeks in a seaside cottage, bu
Paperback, 256 pages
Published July 1st 2003 by Holt Paperbacks (first published 1928)
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I keep this book on my nightstand when I need to transport myself from this world to the natural beauty Beston describes. I love Cape Cod, particularly this Cape Cod, one full of sand and beach grass, salt air and ocean breeze. How many of us would just like to "check out" for awhile? Beston, like Thoreau, did this for a year and chronicled all he saw and felt.
One description is unique to the time it was written. Rather than the traditional Coast Guard stations we are all familiar with, those
Vimal Thiagarajan
Apr 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adorations
Poetry is as necessary to comprehension as science. It is as impossible to live without reverence as it is without joy

And what delightful Poetry it was! Not mere wordplay and expression of feelings, but an extremely astute and microscopic observation and description of the very molecules,the very atoms, the very quarks of nature.

Henry Beston wasn't someone whose idea of outdoors is revelry in a crowded beach or DSLR photography in a zoo or botanical garden.His idea of outdoors was to live alon
Henrique Maia
Aug 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The world happens everyday, everywhere. We're often forgetful whence we came and we easily dismiss that seemingly distant background which is always there – nature.

Henry Beston is the willing witness of a year round experience in the sands of Cape Cod beach. Humbled by the very spectacle of change, the author becomes one of us, and through him we see, listen, feel, smell and become united with the majesty of a world thriving with life. We follow the old rhythm of the earth as it follows the Sun
Jul 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nature, favorites, memoir
When I told my sister I was reading this book on a recent trip to Cape Cod, she asked me how many times I’d read it. She remembers me purchasing this 1969 edition when we were kids. I guessed I’d read it in entirety at least 4 times. However, an unusual feature of this book is that you can open it at random, read any chapter, and it will tell a complete story. I have read many chapters this way throughout the years.

This is the most poetic book ever written about Cape Cod. Henry Beston is a care
Claire McAlpine
Jul 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Claire by: Sheila
Originally published in 1928, and still in print today, this is perhaps one of the early examples of literary nature writing, an account of a year spent living among the sand dunes of the great peninsula of Cape Cod, living closer to a rough sea nature in all her aspects than most humans normally do and observing all that passes through all the senses during that time.

Having planned to stay two weeks in his house on the sand dunes, his fascination with the changes of the dunes, the tides, the sk
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Cape Cod is my happy place and my best friend gave me this book for Christmas. It is an old memoir/nature book written by a man who chose to live on the dunes of Eastham for a year. I read the book in one sitting and it transported me to the sand, surf, wind, and light that I so love.

His descriptions and powers of observation are amazing. He tried to depict all that he experienced: listening to the sound of the ocean, watching deer playing on a beach, witnessing men dying in a shipwreck, decodi
Carol Bachofner
Oct 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: EVERYone!
Shelves: nonfiction, regional
I first read this book in 1968. Since then (altho I have my original copy which sold for $1.45) I have purchased dozens to give away. It is ostensibly a nature, wildlife book that rivals Walden. However, I found it to be closer to poetry than any other prose I have read. I go back to it again and again. Henry Beston's family is (was) very literary. His wife, Elizabeth Coatsworth was a wonderful writer and their daughter, Kate Barnes, was once Poet Laureate of Maine. She is elderly and still live ...more
Sep 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book has been compared to Walden, but it's so much better. Beston's descriptions of the sun, the waves, the sand and the birds made me dream of rustic life on the coast. His tales of shipwrecks and the "surfmen" who walked the beach as watchmen, were fascinating.
Aug 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who like solitude
Shelves: top-books
as I read this book my mind was totally living Beston's year in that cabin on the beach.It is amazing to notice all the changes in the enviornment throughout the year when separated from populous man and his harried life and man made creations. I read this book about once a year.
Dec 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Lori by: Sally
Since I read on a good friend's review of this book that this was one of her all-time favorite books and I had never even heard of it, I figured it was time to check this one out. I'm a midwestern gal living hundreds of miles from the nearest beach, I've never been to Cape Cod and it makes me sad that at the rate the world is changing, I probably won't ever get to explore the Cape that Harry Beston writes about in this book.

This is a quiet novel about a year the author spent, alone, in a house o
Mar 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Who says there aren't any more Henry David Thoreaus? Okay, granted, Beston wrote this in the late 1920's, but still...
An incredibly fascinating description of the daily observations and musings of someone living on the far eastern tip of Cape Cod. His keen eye and enchanting retelling of nature's annual cycles is beautiful in and of itself. But what I found most incredible was his fiancee's insistance on his doing this (living alone for 1 year in this "shack," in order to complete this book) bef
Jun 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: naturalists
I just want to note what I feel when I'm reading this: peace. Amidst the hurrying people and noise around me, when I read about the birds on the beach, I feel like I'm there and that I'm walking down a lonely beach watching and listening to the birds overhead.

Yes, this book is about nothing, but it's a peaceful nothing that helped me relax. There isn't really a storyline or plot, so if that's something you need in a book, then this is not the book for you. It's merely one man's year of watching
Kyle  Tresnan
Sep 21, 2012 rated it liked it
I expected to hate this book. I should have hated this book. The Outermost House is a book about nothing; reading it is like watching a porn movie with no nudity in it. Henry Beston lives by himself in a house on Cape Cod for a year. That is as much intrigue as you will find in The Outermost House. Beston goes on about birds for about 45 pages. You'll think he's done with birds, and then BAM a whole other section about birds. Birds birds birds.

But Beston writes pretty. You get the feeling that
Jan 08, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-undated
We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge, and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world old
Sally Ewan
Jul 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
In 1928, Henry Beston decided to spend a year in a little house on the beach at Cape Cod. This is the book he wrote about his year on the beach. Reading it made me realize how very unobservant I am. I was impressed by his awareness of the world around him (of course, there were few distractions in that time and at that place!) and his lyrical descriptions. Could you describe a wave, then describe how it varies from other waves, and how its sound is different at various times? Imagine doing that ...more
Jan 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is an amazing book with a timeless appeal. One man, one year, one tiny house - what you get is a lyrical almost poetic look at Cape Cod in the 1920s. This is very much a sensory book rather than something that is plot-based or even character based. That is, unless you count the sea, birds, and all other forms of life and nature that are described so well in this book.

Coincidentally, Orion of the Dunes just came out November 2016 (I may have that title slightly wrong) but it is a biography o
Feb 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Beston writes with a passion matched only by his respect for nature; for every beauty there is a struggle, a tragedy. His celebration of a year on Cape Cod includes weather, seasons, ornithology, the townsfolk and Coast Guard employees, reveling in the strengths and pride in all equally. This is not Walden; Beston does not seek to isolate himself from people, but writes of the whole experience life and nature has to offer. The writing is more like a journal, as it is not bogged down in too much ...more
Apr 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Henry Beston's description of his year on Cape Cod's Great Beach reminds me of Aldo Leopold's "Sand County Almanac" and John Janovy's "Dunwoody Pond," which is high praise. Beston shares Leopold's and Janovy's thoughtfulness, elegenat writing, and natural concerns. "The outermost House" will be worth rereading.
L.A. Starks
Jun 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book should be required reading in every school. It is that good; the focus on the life of the Cape over a year is captivating. I never realized descriptions of birds, and oceans could be so varied and expressive.
Nick Klagge
May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
A lovely book. Oddly enough, I first learned of it because of "Battlestar Galactica"--the title of one of the episodes of the reboot series, "Islanded In A Stream Of Stars," is taken from this book.

The obvious comparison for TOH is "Walden," also a book about living in isolation for a year and appreciating nature. For better or for worse, Beston is a lot less explicitly philosophical about the whole thing than Thoreau was in his book. He talks very little about why he wanted to live in his Cape
Jul 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Hands down, the best evocation of the seaside I've ever read. Beston's prose is pure poetry. I have to read it in small doses, too rich for gorging. A book I re-read for its beauty.
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-book
I've been listening to this while driving back and forth to the Cape. The language is beautiful, and now I'm going to buy the book and read it, to really feel the language!
Apr 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Written back in the 1920s when the author stayed in a little cottage right on Cape Cod. He wrote down his observations and reflections of life on the beach for an entire year. The book starts slow but by the middle I was hooked. I especially enjoyed his descriptions of the beach and the birds in winter.

Rachel Carson said that this book was the only one that influenced her writing and it is considered one of the classics of American nature writing.

"Winter is no negation, no mere absence of summer
Dec 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
Lovely book and stunning example of just being, and living in the present moment. The Outermost House is meditative in transforming the reader to being on the coast and experiencing the elemental wonders... Watching wave after wave roll in, of their formation, sound, and way the light from the sun and its position interacts with the waves. Of the wind and how acutely its presence or lack there of, is felt. Of storms and how violent the sea can become. The endless entertainment of birds, and resp ...more
Nov 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
I bought this book years ago on the recommendation of my father, had never read it and finally listened to it. Like all great naturalists, Beston is a supreme noticer of everything around him. His writing is lyrical but also rooted in the quotidian. I particularly liked his descriptions of waves. So glad I finally read this and look forward to re-reading it. Thanks, Dad.
Somewhere in ocean, perhaps a thousand miles and more from this beach, the pulse beat of earth liberates a vibration, an ocean
Amy Beth
Jul 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It's beautiful and stirring how a writer can take a reader into their experience of nature the way Beston does. There is just enough here, not too much or any one thing, not too little. He urges us to embrace the darkness of night. How I wish I could enjoy the vast, star-filled sky for an entire year from the vantage point of the great beach on Cape Cod! And when I go back to the cape this year I will most certainly view the birds with new eyes. Equally interesting and vivid are his accounts of ...more
Apr 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Outermost House was a pleasure to read. Beston's poetic descriptions of life in the Cape Cod dunes provides you with a deep emotional feeling of the texture of the environment that exceeds far beyond Beston's own sights and feelings. Beston's incredible appreciation for the magnificence of this natural landscape, which, on its face may seem unfantastic or relatively barren compared to the excitement of towering mountains or dense forests teeming with life, shines through best when he describ ...more
Jun 07, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel-stories
My husband actually gave me this book in 1998. It took me a while to actually read it. I put it on my nightstand so I would see it every night and think how sweet he was.

It is a good book. Written long ago by a man who planned on staying at the shore only two weeks--he stayed quite a while longer. He became fascinated by the beauty and mystery of the earth and sea. It makes you think deeply about many things we take so for granted. It makes you aware of how oblivious we have become to the wonde
Aug 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: personal-account
The experience of being part of the natural world has allowed Beston to write vivid descriptions from the wonders of plant life in the dunes to thunderstorms on the cape. Yet he felt himself limited. "Creation is here and now. So near is man to the creative pageant, so much a part is he of the endless and incredible experiment, that any glimpse he may have will be but the revelation of a moment, a solitary note heard in a symphony thundering through debatable existences if time." (p.216)

My siste
Mind the Book
Feb 25, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: cape-cod
"Into the vast, bright days I go."

Året är 1925 och Henry Beston har byggt ett litet hus på stranden i Eastham, på the outer Cape. I september åker han dit för en tvåveckorsvistelse, men det blir ett helt år. Tankarna går till Thoreau.

Detta är en naturromantisk skildring av livet bland sanddynerna, och också om att vara utlämnad till elementen. Huset har tio fönster, vilket skapar utomhuskänsla, men inomhus känner sig Beston mycket trygg.

"I had two oil lamps and various bottle candlesticks to re
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Old Souls Book Club: Animals shall not be measured by man 1 8 Sep 01, 2016 02:55PM  
  • Cape Cod
  • A Year in the Maine Woods
  • A Country Year: Living the Questions
  • Beautiful Swimmers: Watermen, Crabs and the Chesapeake Bay
  • Settled in the Wild: Notes from the Edge of Town
  • A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf
  • A Naturalist Buys an Old Farm
  • The Edge of the Sea
  • Sea Room: An Island Life in the Hebrides
  • Under a Wild Sky: John James Audubon and the Making of The Birds of America
  • We Took to the Woods
  • Son of the Wilderness: The Life of John Muir
  • The Ocean of Life: The Fate of Man and the Sea
  • Song for the Blue Ocean: Encounters Along the World's Coasts and Beneath the Seas
  • The Night Country
  • Grizzly Years: In Search of the American Wilderness
  • The Moon by Whale Light and Other Adventures Among Bats, Penguins, Crocodilians and Whales
  • The Big House: A Century in the Life of an American Summer Home
Henry Beston was an American writer and naturalist, best known as the author of The Outermost House, written in 1925.
More about Henry Beston...

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“We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate for having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein do we err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with the extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings: they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.” 192 likes
“The world to-day is sick to its thin blood for lack of elemental things, for fire before the hands, for water welling from the earth, for air, for the dear earth itself underfoot. In my world of beach and dunes these elemental presences lived and had their being, and under their arch there moved an incomparable pageant of nature and the year.” 66 likes
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