Thoreau: A Sublime Life by Maximilien Le Roy, A. Dan

Thoreau: A Sublime Life by Maximilien Le Roy, A. Dan
Publisher/Year: NBM Graphic Novels, 2016
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 88
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


“To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity and trust.” Henry David Thoreau is best remembered as the father of the concept, still influential today, of “civil disobedience” which he used against slavery and the encroachment of government. He was a lot more than that. This graphic novel biography relates the forward looking inspirational life of the great author, philosopher as well as pioneering ecologist.

What I thought

I randomly stumbled upon this at my library, and I’m so glad. This was a gorgeously done graphic biography. While I don’t necessarily agree with Henry David Thoreau, I’m still a big fan of his writing/philosophy. I wouldn’t call this a definitive biography, by any means, so if you are looking for an intro to HDT, this probably isn’t the best place to start. However, those who are more familiar will certainly enjoy this. I, for one, loved this and absolutely need a copy of this for my own shelves.

The Salt Path by Raynor Winn

The Salt Path by Raynor Winn
Publisher/Year: Penguin Randomhouse, 2018
Format: E-book (Libby)
Pages: 410
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


The true story of a couple who lost everything and embarked on a transformative journey walking the South West Coast Path in England.

Just days after Raynor Winn learns that Moth, her husband of thirty-two years, is terminally ill, their house and farm are taken away, along with their livelihood. With nothing left and little time, they make the brave and impulsive decision to walk the 630 miles of the sea-swept South West Coast Path, from Somerset to Dorset, through Devon and Cornwall.

Carrying only the essentials for survival on their backs, they live wild in the ancient, weathered landscape of cliffs, sea, and sky. Yet through every step, every encounter, and every test along the way, their walk becomes a remarkable and life-affirming journey. Powerfully written and unflinchingly honest, The Salt Path is ultimately a portrayal of home–how it can be lost, rebuilt, and rediscovered in the most unexpected ways.

What I thought

What a perfect book to read in 2020! In a year that has most of us feeling down & out, this was an immensely inspiring memoir that faces the question of how we go on when faced with the absolute worst outcome. Being a fan of nature writing is what brought me to this book, and Raynor’s and Moth’s unfathomable strength (and even humor) in facing despair is what kept me reading. I was alternately amazed and moved, and not just that, but also impressed that this wasn’t “just” a nature memoir–it offered a thought-provoking look at homelessness and grief in its many forms. Overall, I thought this was an excellent read, providing just the right amount of armchair travel and hope for this year.

Nature’s Best Hope by Douglas W. Tallamy

Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard by Douglas W. Tallamy
Publisher/Year: Timber Press, 2020
Format: ARC – paperback
Pages: 243
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


Douglas W. Tallamy’s first book, Bringing Nature Home, sparked a national conversation about the link between healthy local ecosystems and human well-being. Nature’s Best Hope takes the next step, and outlines his vision for a home-based approach to conservation that turns our backyards into conservation corridors and wildlife habitats. Nature’s Best Hope is nature writing at its best–rooted in history, progressive in its advocacy, and above all, actionable and hopeful. By proposing practical measures that ordinary people can easily do, Tallamy gives us reason to believe that the planet can be preserved for future generations.

What I thought

Thank you to Timber Press for the free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

I am, by and large, a reader primarily of fiction. However, every now and then I like to dip my toes into some nonfiction, particularly that surrounding topics of interest to me. I especially love reading new releases in my “field.” (My degree is in wildlife conservation.)

That being said you don’t need a degree to incorporate conservation into your own backyard, and you don’t need one to read this accessible little book. Consider me Doug Tallamy’s newest fan. I am really digging his idea for a grassroots approach to bringing biodiversity back into our yards. My husband and I bought our house last June, and I had hoped to work on the landscaping this spring. With everything going on right now, that’s looking more unlikely, but this book has given me something to look forward to as I excitedly (and a little obsessively) start researching ideas for my own yard. I wish I could put a copy of this book into all of my neighbors’ mailboxes (I’m looking at you, dude who started weekly mowing his lawn on FEBRUARY 29th–I live in PA for reference…my grass JUST turned green this past week.)

Environmentally, we are past the point of being able to rely on conservationists to “fix the environment.” Grab your copy of this and let’s get started together–each small step can help! Nature’s Best Hope is an invigorating, imperative read!

The Drum That Beats Within Us by Mike Bond

The Drum That Beats Within Us by Mike Bond
Publisher/Year: Big City Press, 2018
Format: E-galley
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐


First published by Lawrence Ferlinghetti in City Lights Books, Mike Bond is an award-winning poet, critically acclaimed novelist, ecologist, and war and human rights journalist. Based on his own experiences in many dangerous and war-torn regions of the world and in its last wild places, his poems and novels portray the innate hunger of the human heart for good, the intense joys of love, the terror and fury of battle, the sinister conspiracies of dictators, and corporations and politicians, and the beauty of the vanishing natural world.

What I thought

Thank you to NetGalley and Big City Press for the free e-galley of this book! This does not affect my opinion presented here in this review.

“These are the wine days
of October
when trees, threshed
of leaves, bow down
in prayer to winter,
when the sun, anguished
like an old hound,
leaves its bed
late, going early,
when the sap of life
is dried and frozen.”

I don’t like to write lengthy reviews of poetry because I feel like it’s such a subjective thing–plus, with any collection, there will be some that I enjoy and resonate with and others that don’t hit home for me or that I might not even “get.” And such is the case here. As a whole, I did like this collection and found that I really enjoyed Bond’s nature imagery–it was very evocative. I also really enjoyed his essay in the beginning, and for the most part, agree with what he had to say. A solid collection, I’d recommend this if you enjoy poetry of the philosophical and natural kind.

Theft by BK Loren

Theft by BK Loren
Publisher/Year: Counterpoint Pres, 2012
Format: E-book (Nook)
Pages: 186
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


Willa Robbins is a master tracker working to reintroduce the Mexican wolf, North America’s most endangered mammal, to the American Southwest. But when Colorado police recruit her to find her own brother, Zeb, a confessed murderer, she knows skill alone will not sustain her. Willa is thrown back into the past, surfacing memories of a childhood full of intense love, desperate mistakes, and gentle remorse. Trekking through exquisite New Mexico and Colorado landscapes, with Zeb two steps ahead and the police two steps behind, Willa must wrangle her desire to reunite with her brother and her own guilt about their violent past.

Winner of both the Willa Award and Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Award, this debut novel’s lyrical prose gives voice to the wildlife and land surrounding these beautifully flawed characters, breathing life into the southwestern terrain. Within this treacherous and mesmerizing landscape, Theft illustrates the struggle to piece together the fragile traces of what has been left behind, allowing for new choices to take shape. This is a story about family, about loss, and about a search for answers.

What I thought

I love those books that surprise you, and this one was certainly a pleasant surprise. Theft was a quiet read with a depth that I wasn’t expecting. I wish I would have read this one while camping–both because the atmosphere would have been just right for reading this, but also because the quiet and solitude I usually find while camping would have lent itself to truly contemplating everything found in this novel’s relatively few pages. Theft is a deceptively complex title that refers to the multiple instances of theft, literal and figurative, that occur throughout the novel. I mean, when I say this story is thought-provoking and poignant, that is no exaggeration. You’ll want to give yourself time to ruminate on this one. Loren’s love of nature shines through, and her handle on the complexities of human relationships and of life itself is impressive, to say the least. I don’t want to say too much more here–this is a novel best experienced first hand. I really, really enjoyed this book. If you find yourself in a contemplative, thoughtful mood, I absolutely recommend Theft.

Leaves by David Ezra Stein


Leaves by David Ezra Stein
Publisher/Year: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 32
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Summary (from Goodreads)

It’s a young bear’s first autumn, and the falling leaves surprise him. He tries to put them back on the trees, but it doesn’t work. Eventually, he gets sleepy, and burrows into the fallen leaves for a long nap. When he wakes up, it’s spring and there are suddenly brand-new leaves all around, welcoming him. Graceful illustrations and a childlike main character offer the perfect way to talk to children about the wonder of the changing seasons.

What I thought

Although I don’t read them very often, I am not ashamed to admit that I enjoy a good picture book now and then. I feel like I am very much a child at heart, and sometimes, I really, truly wish I could return to the days of simple childhood.


This book.

I thought this way a very sweet and simple story, accompanied by vibrant illustrations, that tells of a little bear learning about and coming to terms with the changing of seasons. Admittedly, I don’t think this was the most memorable picture book I’ve ever read, but I still found it enjoyable. With just a touch of silliness, I loved the sense of wonder the little bear had for the world around him. On another note, while the illustrations had to grow on me, I appreciated their simplicity which would naturally appeal to children, and I LOVED the color palette. Each season was perfectly depicted.

Overall, while this may not have been my favorite picture book ever, I still think it was lovely and that it would be a worthy addition to any young child’s library.

My Side of the Mountain (Mountain #1) by Jean Craighead George

231794My Side of the Mountain (Mountain #1) by Jean Craighead George 
Publisher/Year: Puffin Books, 2001
Format: Paperback
Pages: 192
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟


Summary (from Goodreads)

Every kid thinks about running away at one point or another; few get farther than the end of the block. Young Sam Gribley gets to the end of the block and keeps going–all the way to the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York. There he sets up house in a huge hollowed-out tree, with a falcon and a weasel for companions and his wits as his tool for survival. In a spellbinding, touching, funny account, Sam learns to live off the land, and grows up a little in the process. Blizzards, hunters, loneliness, and fear all battle to drive Sam back to city life. But his desire for freedom, independence, and adventure is stronger. No reader will be immune to the compulsion to go right out and start whittling fishhooks and befriending raccoons.

Jean Craighead George, author of more than 80 children’s books, including the Newbery Medal-winning Julie of the Wolves, created another prizewinner with My Side of the Mountain–a Newbery Honor Book, an ALA Notable Book, and a Hans Christian Andersen Award Honor Book. Astonishingly, she wrote its sequel, On the Far Side of the Mountain, 30 years later, and a decade after that penned the final book in the trilogy, Frightful’s Mountain, told from the falcon’s point of view. George has no doubt shaped generations of young readers with her outdoor adventures of the mind and spirit. (Ages 9 to 12) –Emilie Coulter


What I thought

When I was younger, Jean Craighead George was (and still remains) one of my favorite authors. How I managed to miss this book as a child is beyond me, but I am oh-so-glad I have discovered it now. This is a book I’m going to need to own.

As a nature enthusiast, I found so much delight in Sam’s story. I could just relate to him in a number of ways. I’ve always dreamed of retreating to the woods & finding my own Walden. I loved Sam’s journey into the wilderness, as well as his awe & appreciation for even the smallest & simplest things in nature. As for the plausibility of the story, I don’t really see how this story is so far out of the realm of possibility. My dad tells many tales of him & my uncle building their own cabin in the woods & being gone for days at a time. It was just the times. The only thing I found strange was that his parents let him skip school. But even then, I think what makes me feel worse is that it seems more unlikely that kids nowadays would be interested in anything other than screens long enough to attempt a venture like Sam’s. But I digress.

This is an excellent book, and it’s one I’m glad I read. If you enjoy the outdoors, young or old, add this to your list–especially if you enjoy survival or Walden-type stories. Sam is truly a delight, and for me, he is a kindred spirit whose character I will always hold dear.