Nature Calls discussion

The best nature writing --where you started

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message 1: by Rebecca (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:34AM) (new)

Rebecca (rebeccakoconnor) | 21 comments Mod
If I have to look back and think on what got me started loving nature-centric books, I suppose it would be Kipling's "Kim" and Hemingway's "Old Man in the Sea". Of course, there are more modern books that I love as well. What about you? (and be sure to add books to the bookshelf)

message 2: by P. (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:35AM) (new)

P. Burns | 2 comments I was trapped in North Africa, a very lonely kid who lived 60 miles away from any other english-speaking kids and while soccer could be played in Morocco, that was not possible in Algeria where the resentment against anyone who was white and had any money at all was far more palpable. The heat in summer was unbelievable, especially when the Sirocco blew in; even the tropical fish had to be moved to air conditioned rooms. So I read a lot, and as luck would have it, several entire Time-Life series on science, technology, and history were located right next to the couch which was placed just below an air conditioning vent in the living room. I read about 9 feet of stuff (repeatedly), and I will still read anything; the back of a corn flakes box is fair game. We did not have libraries or book stores when I was a kid in Africa, but my folks would order "Classic Comics" and so I read those and got a decent cross section of literature through that and some other books like the always-great Swiss Family Robinson. Beetle collecting and a lot of time in the woods with a slingshot were time not wasted either. I was not a good shot, so nature was not much harmed. I think the first "adult" book I read as a kid was The Andromeda Strain.


message 3: by Linda (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:49AM) (new)

Linda I didn't think I could remember an early book, so I started to post on current favorites. And then it hit me: Ring of Bright Water by Gavin Maxwell. It's a memoir of his relationship with semi-pet river otters. And that reminds me of Owls in the Family by Farley Mowat.

message 4: by Erin (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:01PM) (new)

Erin | 1 comments I took a class for my bio major, called "Literature of Ecology". Given the title, I was more expecting scientific journal articles. But instead what we got was American Nature Writing - Rachel Carson, Henry Beston, Terry Tempest Williams, Thoreau, Annie Dillard, Edward Abbey. It was a busy semester, so I zipped through most of them quickly, but by the time the class was over, I was hooked.

message 5: by Jennifer (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:18PM) (new)

Jennifer | 1 comments When I was in college I started reading Gary Snyder's poetry and essays, and quickly fell in love.

message 6: by Foxthyme (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:34PM) (new)

Foxthyme Hmm! Guess I'm confused about what nature writing is. I was thinking Harrowsmith and nature books. But, right, lit. Okay, my first was the Brother's Grimm Fairytales. Right close to nature, and evil and good.

message 7: by Annie (new)

Annie (sunwater) | 1 comments I randomly came across a copy of David Quammen's collection of essays, The Boilerplate Rhino and immediately fell in love with his writing. I've since read almost everything he's written and his influence has led me to branch out into the greater world of nature writing. One of the more recent great books I've read, was The Last Season by Eric Blehm. Though Blehm is not a nature writer, his subject was the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Randy Morgenson, a backcountry ranger in the Sierra Nevada mountains and an incredible naturalist. I'm looking forward to finding more suggestions from this group.

message 8: by Tom Chandler (new)

Tom Chandler | 5 comments When I was young, I stumbled across some leftover "pulp" outdoor fiction. It was laughable stuff, but it interested me in the outdoors.

My first real "nature" literature found me in high school, where I read Thoreau and then immediately stumbled across Abbey's The Monkey Wrench Gang.

I probably couldn't ask for a more lethal combination as far as nature writing was concerned, and it started me down the road to where I am now (no, I don't know precisely where that is).

message 9: by Lance (new)

Lance | 4 comments I am something of a recent convert to the church of nature. Kind of...actually, it is something that has been gradually happening for many years, and echoing Tom here, reading Monkey Wrench Gang put me past the tipping point a few years ago. But looking back, I have to say that the seed was initially planted about 15 years ago when I read Into The Wild. That book really never let me go. Throughout all the business and computer college courses, school never did beat that book out of me. And Monkey Wrench Gang brought it all back. I've been outside ever since. The third book I'd have to credit is A Walk In The Woods by Bill Bryson. Before reading that book, backpacking really hadn't occurred to me. AT? What's that? It goes THAT far? Well, that sounds like fun!

message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

I recently re-read *Desert Solitaire* by Edward Abbey. I first read that book as a teenager in the late 1970's. I also read *Walden* in that time period. My relationship with both books have changed over time, but both made an indelible mark on my life.

message 11: by Julie (new)

Julie M (woolyjooly) I learned a lot about ecology and science, even though I majored in journalism, as a staff member of The Nature Conservancy, 1983-2002. I remember reading 'Sand County Almanac' 'Good Dirt' 'Naturalist' and 'Silent Spring' (all almost required reading for eco-weenies then!) Later I got pulled into the stories of Outside writers like Annie Proulx, Jon Krakauer, Bill McKibben and David Quammen. But I think the author whom I have most appreciated and who set me on my path as a nature lover/reader of nature writing is beloved chronicler of the Midwestern prairies and woods, Paul Gruchow: Jounal of a Prairie Year, Boundary Waters-The Grace of the Wild, & The Necessity of Empty Places. (Paul died tragically in 2004.) I gobbled up Bill Kittridge, Ivan Doig and Wallace Stegner in the '90s (I'm re-reading 'Angle of Repose' now and finished 'The Whistling Season' in '06) who write about the American West so eloquently. I seem to be drawn to stories about human relationship to place, rather than just the grand nature landscapes. Also touched by the writing of Linda Hasselstrom, Barbara Kingsolver, Annick Smith & Gretel Ehrlich. I met Kathleen Dean Moore in Mineapolis after helping to copyedit and proof 'Pine Island Paradox', for Milkweed Editions.

message 12: by Debby (new)

Debby | 2 comments Julie, I also love some of your favorite authors
but had run out of authors that made my heart race with joy. Your list was amazing and Mon. I will go to our public library and order as many books from these authors as I can. Thank you. I live in an old part of a city with lots of native trees among the houses and a creek nearby. Most of the plants I have been planting are native. I especially love beetles, butterflies, moths, birds etc. Near by is a state park where I have had some training in the Master Naturalist program.

message 13: by Renny (new)

Renny | 2 comments Good God! How far back should I go? Would Stevenson’s “Treasure Island” qualify as “nature writing?” I read it with a flash under the bed covers when I was 6 years old. Shortly after, in my grandmother’s den, I took on Mark Twain: “Roughing It” and “Huck Fin etc.” The more my brother and I explored the wilds of the west, the more we read. Some favorites were: Wallace Stegner’s “Beyond the Hundredth Meridian,” “Mountaineering, The Freedom of the Hills,” loved “The Journals of Lewis and Clark” by DeVoto— far superior to “Undaunted Courage,” W. H. Hudson’s “Green Mansions.” Like everyone in high school, I read Thoreau and Emerson. But when David Brower showed me “The Place No One Knew” that he was editing about Glen Canyon, I was hooked and never looked back. My shelves bulged with their coffee table “nature” books that helped put the Sierra Club on the map: “Eloquent Light” by Nancy Newhall, photos by Ansel Adams, “This is the American Earth,” and Cedric Wright’s “Words of the Earth.” Can’t forget Peter Matthiessen’s “Wildlife in America, published in 1960 before the conservation movement got rolling. A golden era of “nature” writing before the Paul Shepards, the Neil Everndens, and the John Livingstons bogged us down in an intellectual quagmire (as much as I admire their writing.)

message 14: by [deleted user] (last edited Jul 15, 2008 08:07AM) (new)

Renny: I'm not just saying this just to flatter... but honestly, your book *On the Loose* influenced me when I was a young teenager. My older sister had all those great Sierra Club books--the ones with the Eliot Porter photos and all--but yours inspired me to live a different sort of life. So thanks! Thanks for your list as well. I agree that the 60's and maybe the early 70's were a "golden age" for nature writing. I miss that spirit. I've added your book *Rock Me on the Water* to my "to read list". Looking forward to it..and I'm glad you joined this list...

message 15: by Renny (new)

Renny | 2 comments Hi Debra Good to hear OTL was such a powerful force. Yep, it's unfortunate that Sierra Club's publishing is in decline and has been reduced to a lobbying organization. The fire is out. But what stays the same, right? Had my brother lived, he would have filled the shoes of David Brower and kept the Sierra club on track. Thanks again and hope you enjoy RMOTW. Renny

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