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Rants from the Hill: On Packrats, Bobcats, Wildfires, Curmudgeons, a Drunken Mary Kay Lady, and Other Encounters with the Wild in the High Desert
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Rants from the Hill: On Packrats, Bobcats, Wildfires, Curmudgeons, a Drunken Mary Kay Lady, and Other Encounters with the Wild in the High Desert

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  86 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
Tales of life in the high desert from the author of Raising Wild. As a curmudgeonly, irreverent desert rat, Mike Branch shares his stubborn enthusiasm for the constant struggle to tough out living in an unforgiving landscape. In this collection of short, comic rants he explores various aspects of life in the remote, high-elevation, western Nevada Great Basin Desert. Rangin ...more
Paperback, 209 pages
Published June 6th 2017 by Roost Books
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(showing 1-30)
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Diane S ☔
Jul 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am usually drawn to and reading about those who live in cold climates, but in an effort to expand my reading intereste I decided to read this, about a man and his family who decided to make their home in the desert. Plus, quite frankly, I loved the title. Branch himself is a self avowed, certified curmugeon, and in this book of essays we get a wide range glimpse of everything from his inhospitable mail woman, to his wife and two young children, the youngest whom he calls a feral child.

From hi
Montzalee Wittmann
May 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Rants from the Hill: On Packrats, Bobcats, Wildfires, Curmudgeons, a Drunken Mary Kay Lady, and Other Encounters with the Wild in the High Desert by Michael P. Branch is so rich in humor I had laughed all the way through the book! If you've read Patrick F. McManus' funny books on hunting and fishing well these books are similar only on the desert and all it has hidden. Just as crazy and funny! I love the way Branch describes his crazy neighbors, his kids, the animals, the desert itself. His enc ...more
Cindy Burnett
Jun 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Rants from the Hill is a compilation of essays Mike Branch wrote for “High Country News” and other publications. Overall, the collection is hilarious, thought-provoking, entertaining, and full of incredible details about the high desert in which he and his family live. The subject matter varies greatly from a visit from a Mary Kay representative (one of the funniest stories) to a postwoman who refuses to deliver The New Yorker magazine to Branch (also very funny) to environmental affairs such as ...more
Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nature, non-fiction
Michael Branch has a good sense of humor, and I found myself laughing through sections of his book, but then when he wasn’t writing about nature and animals, the book would get really boring. Who cares about the cell towers that are made to look like trees from outer space? But his stories are from magazine articles, and after awhile, when living in the desert, you run out of nature stories due to the limit of life out there.

His desert, like all in the U.S. is filled with scorpions and rattlesna
Oct 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Well, he's not Michael Perry, but his anecdotes are interesting, his voice graceful, and his philosophy worth considering. Too bad that almost every piece is Intro-> funny-ish story->thudding meaningful ending.

"Each evening when the blast of the [ironically named] Washoe Zephyr subsides, it is as if the world has suddenly stopped clenching its muscles and squinting its eyes. Calm comes over the land in a form that can never be produced by the absence of wind, but only by a cessation of it.
Jenn "JR"
This book is another that I won from Goodreads Giveaways - an the second collection of essays I have read this year. This is a very enjoyable book - personal with plenty of local history and nature woven in. He's a "nature writer" in a the sense that the works discussions of one thing into a discussion of nature, or vice versa, many with a flair of a "tall tale."

For example, the author starts talking about the particular characteristics of winter mud and how it is so strongly viscous and then d
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I won this book in a goodreads drawing.

A fun collection of columns written by a guy who lives in the high desert of Northwestern Nevada. One of the most inhospitable places in this country is what called to this guy, so he could get away from it all. Even in this day and age, it's a struggle to survive.

Fun to read, but I'm not going to visit this guy.
Apr 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs, nature
Having an innate fear of drought, the idea of living in the desert has never, ever appealed to me. Yet there is something so appealing about this book, so appealing about living a life so affected by the elements and the wild creatures. It doesn’t hurt, too, that author Michael Branch is highly intelligent and funny much of the time. He’s also highly family sensitive and is an environmentalist of sorts. Although he talks about animals a lot, I would not call him a die-hard animal lover, though; ...more
Pam ☼Because Someone Must Be a Thorn☼ Tee
~ review copy

RANTS FROM HILL is a compilation of stories that appeared in 'High Country News' and other magazines. As such I should have taken the hint and not read it all in one week. Reading the stories, without the break you would get from waiting for the next month's magazine, I think would have made it more of a pleasure. As it was I'm not sure I came away with the impression that the author intended.

There were all the types of stories that the title promises --the strange and drunk Mary Ka
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: humorous, non-fiction
Rants from the Hill ... A good read if you want some quick recountings of interesting tales of woe. I did not feel it fit my normal type of reading material. I received the book for free through the Goodreads Giveaway.
Aug 31, 2017 rated it really liked it

Anyone who aspires to living off the land in a remote area should read these delightful essays. The author is employed, so he mixes the life of a traditional worker with making do in an unforgiving landscape. His home is the high desert of northwestern Nevada, an unforgiving landscape with harsh winds, drought, heavy winter storms, and various wildlife encounters. He is inventive, as one must be when there are no hardware stores, close neighbors or anyone else to rely on. His daughters are a sou
Michael S
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I met the author only a week ago at a conference for the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment. His presentation was so funny and engaging, I had to get at least one of his books. Now I plan on getting more. Rants from the Hill was a lot of fun to read. The book brings together the best nature writing, humor, science, reflection, and analysis from a friendly and easy-to-listen-to voice. The book would work well in a composition class, in a literature class, in a book club, on t ...more
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Goodreads giveaway winner. Rants From The Hill is a collection of essays about the author's life with his wife and two daughters in Nevada's Great Basin Desert. He shares the beauty of nature and wildness in the high desert where he has made his home. Most people think of a rant as an angry tirade ,Branch's tone is never one of anger. He combines humor and a love of wilderness in this wonderful book. Michael Branch states regarding the ongoing environmental crisis that anyone not angry or sad ab ...more
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I received this book from a Goodreads giveaway.

This book was a lot like having a casual conversation with a friend. The "rants" weren't especially funny and I don't feel ever angry, but they were entertaining and informally educational. (I found the technique used to trap bees out of a house really interesting, along with the little snippets of desert animal behaviors, climate and the characters living there.) After reading this book I feel somewhat like I actually know the area and could fake b
Oct 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley-books
The author and his family live in the far reaches of the Sierra Nevada desert where the wildlife, wildfires and harsh weather reign supreme. This book is a collection of humorous essays depicting everyday life in this isolated environment. Some of these are laugh-out loud funny, especially when he is grumpily despairing of the animals (both wild and domestic) that surround him. All of these essays are very short and the entire book reads very quickly creating an incredibly fun reading experience ...more
Laura Poppenwimer
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Received this book as a free Goodreads promotion. I laughed though out the whole book, the style of writing made the book easy to read I love the desert, but never could handle the remote life style, but appreciate his description of the beauty of the "empty" desert. His is able to paint a great visual picture with words and each snippet seems better than the one before. I was sad when I finished, wanted to read more of these little stories.
Aug 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Probably 3.5 stars. A collection of stories from the author's life in the Great Basin. Interesting to see this unique life. I think the pieces are fantastically well written, I just prefer more of a story than small vignettes, and I realize that is not what the author was doing in the collection. So if you are looking for a collection of small commentaries and experiences in a very interesting location, give this a try. Very interesting.
Feb 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A collection of essays nature writer Mike Branch wrote for High Country News about his home in the harsh but beautiful high desert country of Nevada. Each essay is a short, witty, wry, and poignant ode to the land and family he treasures. My favorite is the story about the drunken Mary Kay lady - I found it both surreal and strangely touching. A quick and entertaining read.
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This collection of essays (originally published as a monthly magazine feature) combines environmentalism, irony, and humor. Branch and his family live in the high desert county outside Reno, Nevada, along with their pets and wild critters. Branch's observations are on-target and memorable. What a great book! [Now I'm imagining Michael Branch and Michael Perry getting together . . . ]
May 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
Not the kind of thing I normally read. It was a really fun, easy read. It also really described northern Nevada in a beautiful light. The author is a professor at my school and is a really cool guy!
Marilyn Smith
Dec 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
When I needed to find a FUNNY book - this practically jumped into my hands. It is funny while being a deep meditation about life in the hard zones of great desert. From colorful humans to wily animals - it appeals to my sense of funny and wonder.
Jun 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
Entertaining stories about authors way of life, his family and where he lives on Ranting Hill in the Great Basin desert. I like how his girls will tell him - "Dad, you should write a rant about that . . ."
Apr 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I've never held a book that quoted both Mark Twain and Italo Calvino! And it is full of knowledge of flora and fauna, geology, etc. and humor to boot. I think some of the funniest, most curmudgeonly essays were frontloaded while the sappier ones were toward the back, but most were very enjoyable.
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: goodreads
I won this in a Goodreads giveaway.
Full of humor and knowledge of the desert. Made me smile knowing I am not the only one to wish there was a lot less blue grass sucking up the planet's water while actually having a lawn, though tiny in comparison to the average lawn in my city.
Sep 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I picked this up for someone else for vacation, and ended up reading it myself, and I'm so glad I did. It was hilarious, sweet, insightful, and gave me a beautiful look at a part of the country I'd never seen before.
Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-won
I won a copy of this book.

This was an enjoyable book of essays about living in the Great Basin Desert. I very much enjoyed learning about the neighbors, animals, and adventures that take place in this very inhospitable wild area.
George Poppenwimer
Jun 21, 2017 rated it liked it
I received this book for free in a Bookreads Giveaway.

Mixed results. Enjoyed some of the stories, not so much on others. A bit preachy in spots.

Nov 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
I loved reading an essay every couple of nights. Very enjoyable.
Sep 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Definitely recommend it, Branch can be quite funny!
Jun 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
We lived in Dayton NV for a year, which is close to where the stories took place so I was able to relate to a lot of the descriptions of the area. This book makes me want to get back into the region and explore it in more depth.

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