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We Took to the Woods

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  1,741 ratings  ·  258 reviews
In her early thirties, Louise Dickinson Rich took to the woods of Maine with her husband. They found their livelihood and raised a family in the remote backcountry settlement of Middle Dam, in the Rangeley area. Rich made time after morning chores to write about their lives. We Took to the Woods is an adventure story, written with humor, but it also portrays a cherished dr ...more
Paperback, 325 pages
Published April 19th 2007 by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (first published January 1st 1942)
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Deb M. I just finished the book. It was not my type of book but I am sure if you find living in unique environments interesting you would like this one. Keep…moreI just finished the book. It was not my type of book but I am sure if you find living in unique environments interesting you would like this one. Keep in mind it was written in 1942.(less)

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Average rating 4.21  · 
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 ·  1,741 ratings  ·  258 reviews


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Devon Goodwin
Aug 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Favorite passage:

"At night, after being at Prospect, I lie in bed and see great clusters of berries slide by endlessly against my closed lids. They haunt me. There are so many of them yet unpicked, so many that will never be picked. The birds and bears and foxes will eat a few, but most of them will drop off at the first frost, to return to the sparse soil of Prospect whatever of value they borrowed from it. Nature is strictly moral. There is no attempt to cheat the earth by means of steel vault
...more
Diane Barnes
Dec 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: bedtime-books
I'm a person who hated living at the end of a dirt road with other houses close enough to see and begged my husband to move because I felt "isolated", so why I love books about people living in the middle of nowhere is beyond me. This book was written in 1942 by a woman who lived in the woods of northern Maine with her husband and small son. Their nearest neighbor was 2 miles away. They dealt with snow and cold and wild animals and all sorts of other difficulties, but always with a lot of of com ...more
Kate
Oct 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookclub
This book made me want to take to the woods, to wear my comfy clothes with no waistbands, to not fight the winter, to cook creatively, to enjoy my house and its surroundings, and to live simply. Though the story preserves some quaintness from a less modern time, Louise Rich still appeals to the modern reader.
Bam cooks the books ;-)
Don't ask me how I happened to stumble upon this book published in 1942. Serendipity at work...and an on-going fascination with books set in Maine of late. There it was amongst the Dewey Decimal Code 917.4 books (geography of and travel in North America--New England). There I found a book to treasure.
Ralph Rich bought a piece of land in rural Maine for a summer camp, after having spent boyhood summers there and feeling a fierce desire to return. On his first day there, as fate would have it, alo
...more
Bookworm
May 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've read this book several times, and love it. When it was published in 1942, it became a best-seller. People identified with the simple life that the Riches created, far from a world at war. Her descriptions of the beat and rhythm of everyday life, a life immersed in the natural world, really resonated with people. Soldiers actually carried it in their kit to fuel their dreams of peace and solitude.

The book describes the Riches' life at Forrest Lodge, a house that is perched high above the Rap
...more
Lauren
Jan 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
My family has a summer house on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, and "We Took to the Woods" has been enjoyed by many of my relatives throughout the years (we often use the term "woods queer", which Rich coined, to describe the boredom and weird behavior that sets in after spending too long in the woods!). I finally got around to reading the novel, and I am very glad I did. Rich's memoirs of her time living with her family in the Maine woods are well-written, funny, and meaningful. Several p ...more
Louis
May 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At the time I discovered this book, I expected it to be a sort of city folk moving to the country tale. Like The Egg and I or the TV series Green Acres, it would be a bit of a lark. Having read the book, I can now say it is something much different - and much better. Louise Dickinson longed for adventure even as a girl (she wanted to be a brakeman on a freight train when she grew up). After finally deciding on a career as an English teacher, she told friends her ultimate goal was to move to the ...more
Sarah
May 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
Loved this. Another book I won't part with. Another autobiographical account of a woman's life in a time and country long gone. Not feminist, simply an account. Simply written and a lovely way of life recounted. Another read that makes me fear I was born in the wrong time, envious of a more simple, even if more difficult (compared to today's standards) , way of life. I wish I'd been able to personally know the author, she was a Classy Broad.
Laura
Dec 26, 2015 rated it liked it
I found the first half of the book interesting, but the later chapters seemed to be more of the same. It was a nice winter read, and my copy is an old one with a picture of snowy woods on the dust jacket, so it was visually appealing as well.
Joe Vess
Jun 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Just a wonderful, delightful book about a life well lived. Something to take lots of inspiration from.
Jim Aker
Mar 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any who love the outdoors.
She Took to the Woods


A review of Louise Dickenson Rich’s tale of family life in the great northern forest of Maine, ‘We Took to the Woods.’

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
The Road Less Traveled- Robert Frost

“For there are some people who can live without wild things about them and the earth beneath their feet, and some who cannot. To those of us who, in
...more
Jeanette Thomason
Apr 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Loved and just reread for a tenth time: memoir of making a home in the wild with respect, wonder, and good humor during the Depression. Enchanting. Inspiring. Funny. One of my favorite stories is of the time Louise is asked to cook for a logging crew at the dam. She has potatoes, coffee, a salmon, and not much more, but goes at it like Christ with the loaves and fishes. The hungry foreman tells her the time the crew will break for lunch and Louise sets a timer. The hungry foreman keeps sneaking ...more
Natalie
Jul 31, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Ivy
Recommended to Natalie by: Amazon
Shelves: nature-books
I read on an Amazon review that We Took to the Woods was the real deal compared to Anne LaBastille's "Barbie-doll-like" accounts of living in the wild. I have to agree, though I like Anne.

Louise Dickinson Rich wasn't wealthy. She wasn't connected. Her husband was working class. And Louise Dickinson Rich was a writer by trade, naturalist by passion.

So of course you're going to get better prose than Anne LaBastille (sorry, Anne) and less soap-boxing.

Killer Quote:
"Happy people aren't given to soul
...more
Hannah
Oct 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Armchair hermits in disguise, nature lovers, Maine lovers
A really good read that satisfied the armchair hermit that lurks very close to the surface of my life. Louise Rich's account of her life in backwoods Maine during the 1930's and 40's was filled with insightful, witty and meaningful observations of what it takes to live this kind of life and how much she really loved it. I enjoyed all 11 chapters with their cute, questioning titles such as:

Chapter IV: Isn't Housekeeping Difficult (Louise says: NO, as she's no housekeeper).

Chapter V: Aren't the Ch
...more
Rebecca Dzikowski
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Louise Dickinson Rich was an incredibly practical woman, and I mean that as a compliment of the highest order. I admired the life that she and her husband built in the woods, but what I enjoyed the most about this book was her narrative voice. Honest about her own shortcomings, fair to those she disagreed with, and generous to all, Louise herself won me over easily. I deeply wish that I could hear her tell one of the folksy backwoods anecdotes she relates in the book in person, preferably in her ...more
Alice
Feb 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book is delightful. It chronicles six years in the remote Maine woods in the 1930s. Rich has a wry sense of humor and insight into people. I also loved the classic Maine terms (which I had never heard until I moved to Maine 32 years ago) like "jeezly" and "culch." I highly recommend this book.
Shannan
Aug 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
1/11/14 update: reread this book in three days flat. Quite the difference from last reading although I think my change in circumstances has made me feel even more like the author than ever before. To explain, Rich wrote this book in 1940s backwoods Maine. Most of the book is written from the "winter" perspective. Below freezing temps, snow, wood stoves heating spaces, wool clothes, limited access because of snow, ice, blizzards. When I first read this book I lived in moderate climate Pacific Nor ...more
Homeschoolmama
Apr 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If anyone else had written this book, it'd probably have been out of print many years now. Louise Dickinson Rich manages to do what few people can do: write about the mundane in a way that interests even urban folk who know next to nothing about country living. We Took to the Woods is Rich's first autobiographical book about living in the woods of Maine in the 1930's. It's full of adventure, humor, candor and fun. I did get a little lost with all the jargon pertaining to boats and lakes, 'slui ...more
Mila
Jan 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book is lovely! Rich's voice is warm, matter-of-fact, and entertaining, and her word usage is delightful. I love needing to get out a dictionary for good reason and not because it seems like the author is being pushy about their verbiage. True, Rich has only been living out in the woods for 6 years, so there's something of the Walden in this one, but her stories ring true and I think her relative inexperience gives her a perspective those of us who dream of such things can relate to. She ha ...more
Eden
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
2019 bk 55 This is one of those books that have followed me for years. I've seen it on countless shelves of different house libraries and wondered about it, picked it up, but the original did not have a well thought out on the desciption or the jacket. Then someone on Goodreads wrote a review that re-awakened by interest and I purchased the copy with an afterward by Louise Dickinson Rich's biographer. It took two days to read this, admittedly because of Holy Week activities, otherwise I would ha ...more
Elinor
Mar 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gosh, I loved this book by clever, articulate and witty Louise Dickinson Rich. She and her husband were original back-to-the-landers, although they didn't think of themselves as such. They just liked living in a wild, natural place -- in this case, the backwoods of Maine -- and were perfectly content to enjoy each other's company, along with their hired hand and their two children.

Louise writes entertainingly about the other backwoods folks in their community, plus the "sports" who came to visi
...more
Michelle Casey
Apr 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-star-rating
I bought this last year at the AAUW book sale in State College, PA. I am only sorry it took me nearly a year to begin to read it. Louise provides a vivid and entertaining narrative of backwoods living in rural 1930's Maine. The reader marvels over the rustic nature of life of a bygone era, but that is not all to marvel over. Louise has a distinct voice, one of humor and good naturedness, but opinionated. And those opinions are relative as much today as they were 80 years ago. I was fascinated by ...more
Cheryl
Aug 31, 2009 rated it really liked it
I liked this. Yes, it is a tad dated and sometimes the narrative seems a little childish but overall it was a wonderful story. Part of what was rewarding is that I'm very familiar with the area in which it takes place, adding to my positive experience. I also gravitate to tales about people living in extraordinary situations. And, I love tales about nature. The only negative comment I would have is that while it did have a beginning and a middle it really didn't really seem to have a finish. The ...more
Carrie Fitz
Jun 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing

I stumbled across this book during a sleepless night while staying at my parent's house in Maine last week. I am wary of homesteading books that write from a sentimental, self righteous perspective, and was thrilled to find this book to be the polar opposite. Louise Dickinson Rich is funny, practical, often self effacing (but not in a weird insecure way) and just plain downright real! My family roots are in Northern Maine, so perhaps that helps to explain the connection I felt with this memoir.
...more
Suzanne
Jun 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
There's not much more that can be said about this book, probably up there with the top 10 memoirs of the 20th century. It's never, ever been out of print, which says a lot! If you read it, you'll feel like it was written yesterday and not in the 30's, such is Rich's tone---clear and humorous and ageless. For anyone who has dreamt of living it all behind and living in the woods, this is a book not to be missed.
Jo
Jan 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, outdoors
Love this book on so many levels. Delighted to have found a copy on the sale shelves of my local friends of the library & can't wait to share it with my friends. A must for anyone who enjoys homesteading, memoirs, or just good story-telling. Mrs. Rich is a wonderful companion: forthright, humorous and sharp-sighted. Her occasional poetic flights in the midst of otherwise workmanlike writing are a heart-opening delight. ...more
Tim Glinatsis
Nov 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is absolute magic.

There is something so incredibly charming and endearing about Rich's writing style...I just couldn't put this down.

The other reviews here do a credible job of capturing the spirit of this work, so I won't repeat them. But given just how far this book's genre strays from my own preferred titles, you should take note: it's truly amazing.
Therese
Apr 27, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, humor
One of those books where I like that it exists a little more than I like actually reading it. A great voice detailing a great existence. But you have to be really hungry for the details of primitive living in the woods to keep from skimming big chunks. Still, a rich nourishing friendly read.
Susan K
Aug 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
It’s easy to see why after 75 year since it was first published this book is still popular. It gives a snap shot in time of what life was like living in the woods. At times the book reminds me of Walden Pond
Carlene Byron
Apr 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: regional
So enjoyed seeing this view of a familiar region through the lens of a different time.
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Writer known for fiction and non-fiction works about New England, particularly Massachusetts and Maine. Mrs. Rich grew up in Bridgewater where her father was the editor of a weekly newspaper. She met Ralph Eugene Rich, a Chicago businessman, on a Maine canoe trip in 1933 and they married a year later. Mr. Rich died in 1944. Her best-known work was her first book, the autobiographical We Took to th
...more

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