My First Summer in the Sierra

by John Muir

Hardcover, 2011




Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011.


John Muir, a young Scottish immigrant, had not yet become a famed conservationist when he first trekked into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, not long after the Civil War. He was so captivated by what he saw that he decided to devote his life to the glorification and preservation of this magnificent wilderness. "My First Summer in the Sierra," whose heart is the diary Muir kept while tending sheep in Yosemite country, enticed thousands of Americans to visit this magical place, and resounds with Muir's regard for the "divine, enduring, unwasteable wealth" of the natural world. A classic of environmental literature, "My First Summer in the Sierra" continues to inspire readers to seek out such places for themselves and make them their own.

User reviews

LibraryThing member edwinbcn
John Muir came to live in the United States in 1849, when he was nine years old and his parents moved there. In his twenties he spent several years studying various subjects at university, including botany and geology, in an entirely eclectic fashion and without ever taking a degree. To avoid conscription he moved to Canada, where he spent time trekking through the wilderness. He spent the following several years wandering the woods in the good season and working to make money as it ran out, usually in the winter season, when collecting plants would be difficult.

Between 1868 and 1871, Muir visited Yosemite several times, spending most of his time there. My first summer in the Sierra, although written and published many years later, in 1911, describes this period of his life.

The descriptions in the book bespeak Muir's adoration of the wild nature he observed in the Yosemite. Muir's youthful vigor emblazons the his writing about the paradisaical nature he encountered in this place, including rich descriptions of the landscape, flora and fauna.

My first summer in the Sierra is written in the form of a diary, describing the wanderings and daily occupations of Muir as a shepherd, and although Muir did spend a season in the Yosemite as a shepherd, My first summer in the Sierra is inspired by the many more years he spend there. However, the chosen structure and story tie the book together into an enticing story.

The edition of Mariner Books is illustrated with prints of original photos, etchings and drawings by Muir.

Indispensable reading for anyone with an interest in Natural History, botany and the ecological movement, particularly in the United States.
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LibraryThing member hemlokgang
This was a very nice account of a summer in the Sierras. Full of detailed recordings of the flora, fauna, and natural beauty, Muir takes the reader on the journey with him.
LibraryThing member juniperSun
I think some of the people who quote his "When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe" phrase would be surprised to see it in the context of the rest of the paragraph (p87). He relates a lot of what he sees to God's presence. At times I felt his gushing enthusiastic words were a bit over the top, and wondered that he could have so much boundless enthusiasm day after day--but my reaction is doubtless a result of our comparative ages. There were sections where his imagery was strongly appealing, e.g. "some [raindrops]sift spray through the shining needles, whispering peace and good cheer to each one of them." (p 69)
He does animate nature; I thought it was refreshing the way he would identify plants etc as people, in a manner we are used to only hearing from Native Americans. I wonder how much of our innate attraction to specific landscapes has to do with some genetic predisposition: he comes from a Scots family which I assume lived for centuries in highlands.
I wonder what reference books he might have had with him. For example, in the beginning he wonders at the bird that walks under water in the streams but by the end he names it ouzel in his observations.
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LibraryThing member jbarr5
My first summer in the Sierra by John Muir
Always enjoy the outside, walking discovering new things.
Have watched many on the John Muir Trail in CA and watched shows but having it all described is like being there, doing it ourselves.
Like listening to his journals and everything he sketches, plant, animal, etc.
I received this book from National Library Service for my BARD (Braille Audio Reading Device).
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LibraryThing member breic
This is not my usual style of book. It is a diary, with no real story, and with long and detailed descriptions of plants. It takes a while to get into the book, and took me almost nine months to finish it. Yet there is a progression to the diary. Particularly once Muir gets to higher elevations, then still higher, his delight becomes infectious, and the story moves quickly. Although the prose can be terribly purple, Muir back it up and justifies it with a fine eye for detail. I regretted getting to the end of the Sierra summer.… (more)
LibraryThing member lazysky
“When we try to pick out anything by itself we find it hitched to everything else in the universe”.

A record of Muir’s activities, discoveries, and philosophic musings with unusual insight into the beauties of nature and life. 12 plates reproduced from photographs by Herbert W. Gleason and 21 textual illustrations from sketches made by the author in 1869. Octavo. Original green cloth binding, with pictorial gilt and light green stamping. "Muir was 72 years old when he began to prepare the journal of his first summer in the Sierra for publication. With the skillful editing of his mature years, he retains the refreshing spontaneity and enthusiasm of his youthful experiences." (Kimes bibliography).… (more)
LibraryThing member runningbeardbooks
Poetical and ponderous sermons on nature; eyerollingly irritating to the modern eye.
I realize it was written in 1869... and was likely intentionally... poetic and quasi-religious in tone. I love the journal descriptions of camp life and daily observations had they not been cut far too short by his purple ponderings. This is not to say, as a man, that he wasn't profoundly important and influential... just that this piece doesn't transport us to the Sierras as much as it hijacks us into sitting through church.

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