The Singing Wilderness by Sigurd F. Olson – A Book Review

A friend recommended this book to me. We have a mutual admiration of Stephen King, and he knows I’m a writer, so I think he believed I’d appreciate Olson’s writing technique. My friend was most definitely correct!

The Singing Wilderness is a series of essays depicting the various seasons in northern Minnesota. Olson somehow finds a way to describe local animal life, lakes, forests, rivers, and insects in a dynamic, captivating, and unique way throughout the length of an entire book.

And while Olson’s style is brilliant, The Singing Wilderness spoke to me on a far deeper level than simply craft. Even though it debuted in 1956, his words and style transcend time. Reading this book isn’t like stepping into a time machine, though–it’s more like passing through a portal into the wilderness.

As Olson says, there is something in us that loves nature, that needs nature, that wants to coexist with nature. Until relatively recently, we didn’t just visit nature, we actually lived in it. The Singing Wilderness somehow captures that dynamic and makes our heart yearn for the sights and sounds that our ancestors experienced.

I’m no outdoorsman, but The Singing Wilderness inspired me to get outside. Not just my backyard, but local state parks and nature preserves. I’ve already developed a plan to visit several this summer with my wife and young daughters.  I feel confident the book will equally encourage you.

If you love nature or masterfully written sensory language, I highly recommend The Singing Wilderness. You can find a copy at both Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

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Manhood For Amateurs by Michael Chabon – A Book Revie

I feel like this book was written for me.  Seriously.  Just me.

As you’ve probably guessed, I loved Manhood For Amateurs.  Chabon is really just a far more successful, talented version of me.  He’s a stay-at-home dad; he does the cooking; he’s a writer; he digs pop culture and comic books; he’s not especially talented at home improvement; he’s not ever totally sure on how to be a perfect father.

That’s me.

Chabon writes a brutally honest book of essays in Manhood For Amateurs that delves into all the business I mentioned earlier, as well as his takes on religious holidays, the theft of our nation’s children, the importance of creativity, star gazing, comic book characters and how they influenced his life, David Foster Wallace, and myriad other topics.  Though the subjects are wide-ranging, his pleasant writing voice ties them all together and creates a thoroughly insightful and enjoyable experience.

I love Michael Chabon’s fiction, but I’m beginning to think I enjoy his nonfiction even more so.  At one minute, he’s discussing political trends with words even I don’t recognize, and then the next moment he’s talking about the chaos of taking his children grocery shopping.  Not only do I feel like I can relate to him, I feel as though I can learn from him.

If any of the above sounds interesting to you, then I implore you to buy Manhood for Amateurs.  I’m not exaggerating when I say it was a delight.