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The Green Life: Book Roundup Wednesday: Finding Wisdom in the Wilderness

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July 01, 2009

Book Roundup Wednesday: Finding Wisdom in the Wilderness

Books about environmentalism Every Wednesday, we review a selection of new and upcoming books addressing a specific aspect of environmentalism. This week’s books are memoirs about finding wisdom in the wilderness.

One Square Inch of Silence: One Man’s Search for Natural Silence in a Noisy World (by Gordon Hempton and John Grossman, $26, Free Press, Mar. 2009): In this book, Emmy-winning sound recordist Gordon Hempton travels across the country in search of wild places and wild sounds. The book is structured like a classic American adventure story, complete with a rickety old VW bus and breathtaking scenery. Hempton, a self-described "acoustic ecologist," uses his engaging story to address the need for conservation through the oft-forgotten element of natural sound. 

Solitude: Seeking Wisdom in Extremes
(by Robert Kull, $24, New World Library, Sept. 2008): In this adventure story and memoir, the well-traveled author chooses to spend a year in “deep solitude” in the Patagonia wilderness, searching for answers to his spiritual questions. Journal entries make up the meat of the book, and are interspersed with observations about topics such as “journaling and storytelling,” “method, solitude, and meditation,” and “the urge to be alone.”

Walking Nature Home: A Life’s Journey
(by Susan Tweit, $25, University of Texas Press, Mar. 2009): When the diagnosis of a life-threatening disease stole away the context of young Susan Tweit’s life, she turned to the natural landscape she'd always loved. “The stars remind me of who I am and where I come from,” writes the award-winning author and plant ecologist. Her story of surviving that disease takes place under the stars, and in the Rocky Mountain sage meadows that acted as compass and guide through her most difficult times. 

The Wild Places (by Robert Macfarlane, $15, Penguin, June 2008): The author swims through phosphorescent seas, climbs up cliffs, and treks through frozen rivers by night to experience what remains of Britain’s wilderness. The memoir contains adventure and revelation, as Macfarlane’s understanding of nature is continually revised by the wilderness he discovers in the least-expected places.

--Jamie Hansen


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