March 11, 2013

March book review: a great trail companion

"Only by going in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter."

~John Muir


If you enjoy maps, travel, nature, and tracing the paths of historical figures, you'll probably appreciate this light paperback. "On the Trail of John Muir," by Cherry Good, is easy to pick up and put down as your schedule allows. I'll be linking this post later this month to Holley's book review meme over at Roses and Other Gardening Joys.

Since I'm on a bit of a John Muir kick, I was looking for a book that would give me facts about exactly where he traveled and lived. I wanted a book to provide a sense of the geography of Muir's life, and the scope of his journeys. This book is a good start.

In seven chapters, it takes the reader from Dunbar, Scotland; to Wisconsin; Ontario, Canada; Florida; California; Alaska; Arizona; and many destinations along the way.

What I like about the book:

  • The maps help to illustrate significant places along Muir's travels and life journey;
  • An excellent chronology at the end of the book lists highlights of his life, from 1838-1914;
  • Each chapter offers anecdotes and descriptions of people, places, and events significant to Muir;
  • A few photos and illustrations show his modest dwelling places and many of the beautiful scenes he admired; and
  • The author's experiences of those places are woven effectively with Muir's writings and reactions.

It's a light book, at 131 pages, including the index. This isn't really a critique, because the book fits neatly in a backpack or a bag for easy travel. But it's sparse in scale, and leaves you wanting more. That's not surprising either, since there's so much to learn about this fascinating man.

Even Muir, himself, wrote: "It seems strange that a paper that reads smoothly and may be finished in 10 minutes should require months to write." While it would be difficult to read and retain the spirit of this book in 10 minutes, you should be able to read most individual chapters in that amount of time.

I'd recommend the book to anyone interested in John Muir's travels, explorations, and settlements.

For more excellent book suggestions, check out Holley's book review meme, hosted on the 20th of each month.

And just a quick reminder that the "Lessons Learned" and "Seasonal Celebrations" memes are live until March 20, when we'll wrap up for the season! Thanks for joining in!

22 comments:

  1. This sounds like the perfect book for getting to know about John Muir, and for whetting the appetite for more. I love that it includes maps as well as anecdotes interwoven with the author's experience. Sounds like a book I would love to read! Thanks so much for joining in!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for hosting, Holley! So many books to read, so little time. There are some wonderful books on your list that I must read!

      Delete
  2. What a fascinating book to reflect back on Muir and follow his travels...sounds like a great quest.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I can see how it would be helpful if you were visiting some of his haunts, either on a vacation or for research or some other purpose. Amazing how much he got around, back in the day.

      Delete
  3. I think I will get this book for my 10 year old son who enjoys map reading and the outdoors.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it should be a great read for a young naturalist. I hope he likes it!

      Delete
  4. John Muir is such a unique and interesting character, this sounds like a great introduction to his life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it's definitely a good start. It's also a good one to have along if you're visiting a Muir historical site.

      Delete
  5. Ooh, that sounds good. We thought about him a lot when we went out to Yellowstone and Muir Woods a couple summers ago.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, it's a light read and helpful in getting a sense of his travels. I'm going to be visiting some of his haunts in the months ahead, so the book seemed like a good reference.

      Delete
  6. Thanks for the great book review...sounds like a book to put on the list!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sure thing. There are so many amazing books written by Muir and about Muir. I have quite a few on my "must read" list!

      Delete
  7. I might have to check it out. I recently finished a blog series about Muir Memorial Park in Wisconsin, which isn't too far from my home. I was able to get quite a few pictures, but the place really comes alive in a month or two.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Nicholas: I just checked out your Muir Memorial Park series. Your posts were wonderful! As I mentioned in my comment to you on your blog, I'm embarrassed that I haven't spent more time at the park. I think I'll try to get up there in late April or early May to try to capture some spring ephemerals. I have some here on my property, but it's always fun to find them in new places, too. Glad to meet you in the blogosphere!

      Delete
  8. I've not heard of him before, but I will check him out...it's always interesting to hear of a new writer.

    Jen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hadn't heard of this writer, either. But I think it's a woman. She does a very nice job with this book. Apparently, she followed some of the travels of Muir and experienced them firsthand, so that's kind of nifty.

      Delete
  9. I've been a fan of John Muir's writings for many years, so I may enjoy this book... thanks for the review!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Certainly! The author does a nice job of capturing the spirit and highlights of each location she covers.

      Delete
  10. Nice to have the maps to help you follow along, and what a varied set of places. Sounds like a good book to read in snatches on trains or planes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm a map fan, so that is one of the things I like most about the book. It also gives the reader a good overview of Muir's travels.

      Delete
  11. I'd love to read this book! This post also reminds me that some day I'd like to make a concerted effort to visit the John Muir National Historic Site some day, that's in Martinez. Every time we go to visit friends in Crockett, we drive right by it, but never think to make a trip with the Muir site as our destination. I really need to remedy that...maybe after I find a copy of the book ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know. I drive by the Muir Memorial Park multiple times each summer. We've hiked it a couple of times--but not enough. Hope you can find the book. I know it's available on Amazon--that's where I got my copy.

      Delete

Thanks for stopping by!

(Your comment might not appear right away. PlantPostings uses comment moderation, and we read every comment before we publish.)