Monday, August 22, 2011

Five best nature books

Brad Leithauser was born in Detroit and graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He is a poet and novelist. Among his many awards and honors are a MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and, in 2005, the induction by the president of Iceland into the Order of the Falcon for his writings about Nordic literature. He is a professor in the writing seminars at Johns Hopkins University.

For the Wall Street Journal, he named a five best list of dispatches from the natural world, including:
by Henry David Thoreau (1854)

Henry David Thoreau was a mere 27 when, in 1845, he undertook to build a cabin near Concord, Mass., and reside in semi-seclusion on Walden Pond. His account of the experience, first published as "Walden; or, Life in the Woods," may be the world's best-loved nature book. Its success is all the more noteworthy given that "Walden" is in effect a sermon, delivered in the church of the great outdoors. Thoreau delivers his text standing not behind a pulpit but a fallen log, gesticulating at his animated surroundings: the wandering clouds, the drilling insects, the probing streams. Although he can be as stern as any stony-faced Puritan preacher, especially on the topic of greed, he regards our planet—the site of all our mortal trials and travails—as an irrepressibly joyous place, everywhere open to human betterment. His elation and enthusiasm are infectious. "All change is a miracle to contemplate," he tells us. And adds: "But it is a miracle which is taking place every instant."
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see Will Howarth's list of books for lovers of Thoreau's Walden.

--Marshal Zeringue