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Great Books About Nature and the Outdoors
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Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Great Books About Nature and the Outdoors on 07/03/2007 09:27:00 MDT Print View

On Kathy Bartosh's thread about Havasu Canyon some talk began on Edward Abbey's wonderful book, "Desert Solitaire". In response Kathy suggested a book by Calvin Rutstrum, "Paradise Below Zero"

Here are some of my all time favorite books about nature and the outdoors:

"Arctic Dreams" by Barry Lopez
"Crossing Open Ground" by Barry Lopez
"Dersu Uzala" by V. K. Arseniev
"Walden" by David Thoreau
"This Cold Heaven" by Gretel Ehrlich (absolutely wonderful. I wanted to go live in the Arctic right then and there)
"My Story As Told By Water" by David James Duncan
"Cry of the Kalahari" by Mark and Della Owens
"Pilgrim At Tinker Creek" by Annie Dillard (even if some of the anecdotes were partly made up, she has a mind like an angel)
"The Roads to Sata" by Alan Booth (one of the best books by a non-Japanese on Japan, about an Englishman who walked from the north to the south of Japan. Some unforgettable scenes)
"Radical Simplicity" by Dan Price (a gem of a book by a man who completely veered off into an alternative way of living that reflects a lot of the philosophy that guides UL backpacking)
"The Four-Cornered Falcon" by Reg Saner
Right now I'm reading, "Odysseus' Last Stand" by Dave Stamboulis (a good read about a man and his wife bicycling around the world)

These are just some suggestions for great reads. Anyone else have any inspiring books they'd care to share?

Edited by butuki on 07/03/2007 09:37:11 MDT.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Great Books About Nature and the Outdoors on 07/03/2007 09:36:37 MDT Print View

Hi Miguel

That's wonderful that you met Edward Abbey. Have you followed Ed's advice to you during your conversation with him?

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Great Books About Nature and the Outdoors on 07/03/2007 09:42:36 MDT Print View

Hi George. I've tried very hard to follow his advice, and to this day have not followed the conventional route for either career path or how I think about my life or how to live it (I had already thought that way before I met him, but he definitely reinforced my feelings about it). I still work part-time as a freelance writer/ illustrator and have never sold much, in part because I do try to write what I love and not what sells! ($j$)?" So his advice is great in some ways, but not very realistic in other ways. I suspect he was being a little tongue-in-cheek when he said what he did; he knew very well that making it as a writer is awfully hard.

Linsey Budden

Locale: pugetropolis
great books about nature and the outdoors on 07/04/2007 23:51:02 MDT Print View

A few years ago a fantastic documentary was being played (constantly) on PBS called "Alone in the Wilderness" about a 50 year old man (Richard "Dick" Proenneke) who (in the late 1960's) went "back of beyond" to the wilds of Alaska to build a cabin--he ended up staying 35 years (Was Thoreau in the woods more than one year?). For his brother's family's enjoyment he photograghed his use of hand tools during cabin construction and various aspects of his life with still and motion picture cameras (handcranked, no batteries). He was an amazing photographer and when this gold mine of footage was rediscovered, it was turned into this very compelling documentary narrated with passages from an equally wonderful book he'd written in (I think) 1970. The book is called "One Man's Wilderness: an Alaskan Odyssey" and I highly recomend both it and the one hour long documentary. PS> the film was completed in time for Dick to see it before he died--reportedly he liked it.

Edited by lollygag on 07/04/2007 23:55:07 MDT.

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: Great Books About Nature and the Outdoors on 07/05/2007 00:33:52 MDT Print View

I will definatly check out some of those books ! Thanks.

Ed Abbey and Thoreau are the kings in my book. "The Monkey wrench gang" and 'Walden" should be on everyones bookself.

-and people please.... I keep hearing about how Thoreau didnt wear a loin cloth and live as a hunter gatherer in complete isolation for years on end and therfore is a hypocrate. People who say that either never read his book or COMPLETLY missed the point. Which was to live simply close to nature by simple means, not as a hermit hunting with your teeth! End of rant.

Linsey Budden

Locale: pugetropolis
great books about nature and the outdoors on 07/05/2007 02:09:15 MDT Print View

Edward Abbey devoted a chapter to his 'take' on Thoreau in "Down the River" which is well worth reading.

Edited by lollygag on 07/05/2007 02:14:02 MDT.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: great books about nature and the outdoors on 07/05/2007 06:46:34 MDT Print View

>> A few years ago a fantastic documentary was being played (constantly) on PBS called "Alone in the Wilderness"

I was lucky to happen upon this PBS documentary a few years ago. Great film footage. It was great.

I do remember that he had supplies flown in by a sea plane.

Also, he seemed to be a master carpenter/wood worker.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Re: Walking - Thoreau on 07/05/2007 06:57:28 MDT Print View

by Henry David Thoreau

I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and
wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely
civil--to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society. I wish to make an extreme statement, if so I may make an emphatic one, for there are enough champions of civilization: the minister and the school committee and every one of you will take care of that.

I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks--who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering, which word is beautifully derived "from idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under pretense of going a la Sainte Terre," to the Holy Land, till the children exclaimed, "There goes a Sainte-Terrer," a Saunterer, a Holy-Lander. They who never go to the Holy Land in their walks, as they pretend, are indeed mere idlers and vagabonds; but they who do go there are saunterers in the good sense, such as I mean. Some, however, would derive the word from sans terre without land
or a home, which, therefore, in the good sense, will mean, having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere. For this is the secret of successful sauntering. He who sits still in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all; but the saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea. But I prefer the first, which, indeed, is the most probable derivation. For every walk is a sort of crusade, preached by some Peter the Hermit in us, to go forth and reconquer this Holy Land from the hands of the Infidels.

It is true, we are but faint-hearted crusaders, even the walkers, nowadays, who undertake no persevering, never-ending enterprises. Our expeditions are but tours, and come round again at evening to the old hearth-side from which we set out. Half the walk is but retracing our steps. We should go forth on the shortest walk, perchance, in the spirit of undying adventure, never to return-- prepared to send back our embalmed hearts only as relics to our desolate kingdoms. If you are ready to leave father and mother, and brother and sister, and wife and child and friends, and never see them again--if you have paid your debts, and made your will, and settled all your affairs, and are a free man--then you are ready for a walk.

Scott Peterson
(scottalanp) - F

Locale: Northern California
Re: Great Books About Nature and the Outdoors on 07/05/2007 08:12:47 MDT Print View

Great suggestions Miguel. I will look into some of these books as I much prefer non-fiction literature with a life experience slant.

"The Places In Between" by Rory Stewart is one I just completed. Pretty fascinating tale of a Scotsman's trek across Afghanistan shortly after 9-11, in the dead of winter no less. While Rory does not camp outside each night, his use of local clothing (far less technical than what we might use in -20 degree weather) and a commitment to walk the entire length while navagating land mines and tribal strife is truly inspiring. It kind of makes "ultra-lighting Denali" or "walking 7000 miles in a continuous loop" look rather easy in comparison. The added benefit of reading the book is also gaining perspective on ancient eastern cultures and what existence is like in places that traditionally are backdrops for "war coverage" on the western evening news.