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We Took to the Woods Paperback – April 19, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Down East Books; 2nd Edition edition (April 19, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0892727365
  • ISBN-13: 978-0892727360
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,810 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Descriptive, humorous and sincere, Louise was a rare and genuine author.
William J. Higgins,III
I first read this book more than a decade ago and can still remember how it made me feel, can't say that about many books.
Konrad Haskins
I borrowed this book from the library but liked it so much that I bought a copy for my guest room.
mrsbski

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

148 of 150 people found the following review helpful By Suzanne Amara TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is one of the most enjoyable to read you will ever find. It is written in such a clear, humorous and timeless style that you would swear it was written yesterday instead of in 1942. Each chapter answers a question that would arise upon hearing that one had decided to live in the deep woods of Maine---how you do school your children? How do you keep in touch with society? How do you keep house? There are pictures and the kind of nitty gritty details we all like to read! In addition to just being great to read, I think this book is a very important one. I would say it had a part in starting at least two trends. One is the back to the land movement. At the time it was written, you just simply didn't decide to get away from it all and live in the woods! I think this book, which was extremely popular when it came out, put some unique ideas in a lot of heads and may have had a big part in giving people ideas about alternative ways of living. Also, I think it's one of the first autobiograpical books of its type---written plainly but with humor about a unique way of living. I think this book, which in my knowledge has never been out of print, is really one of the key non-fiction works of the 20th century. But don't read it for that, read it because it's fun to read and you will love it!
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108 of 109 people found the following review helpful By Jena Ball on January 19, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Louise Rich is not what you might expect a person who has given up the "essentials" of life to be. She is not trying to escape, not trying to save the wilderness, prove a point or return to her roots. Her motivation, quite simply, is that she likes where she lives and is willing to put up with a fair amount of discomfort to stay there. Moreover, she is mightily amused by the questions she is frequently asked by friends and acquaintances, the most common being:
"How do you make a living?"
"But, you don't live here all the year round?"
"Isn't housekeeping difficult?"
"What do you do with all your spare time?"
"Don't you ever get bored?"
"Aren't you ever frightened?"
"Don't you get awfully out of touch?"
"Do you get out very often?"
and
"Is it worth-while?"
Rich's eminently practical, and amusing answers to these questions form the basis of this book and will keep you grinning from ear to ear for hours.
It is clear from the start that Louise and her husband Ralph are more than capable of taking care of and amusing one another, and things only get better with the addition of various family members. These include Gerrish, their friend and handyman, son Rufus, daughter Sally, postman Larry, a skunk, five huskies, a marten and an ongoing parade of visitors, neighbors and "sports" (that's backwoods for tourists).
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74 of 75 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 23, 1998
Format: Hardcover
My mother gave me this book many years ago when I was a young woman. I was a bit "blue" at the time and she said it always gave her a lift to read it and hoped it would do the same for me. Did it ever! I've read it at least 10 times over the years and will probably read it ten more. Louise Rich's description of life in the back woods of Maine in the 30's made me want to go there and parts of the book are hillarious. It truly makes one long for a simpler, gentler time.
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 2, 1998
Format: Paperback
Like many others, I was lucky enough to discover "We Took to the Woods" in a used book store. From the first page, Mrs. Rich's description of her family's withdrawl from urban life to the peace of the Maine woods transports the reader to another time and place. The long winters spent by the fire with favorite books, the eager anticipation of the monthly mail delivery, the excitement over the first thaw and the opportunity to replenish the barest of larders...her descriptions of everything from her summer and winter homes to the garden and surrounding woods bring you into her world. And is there anyone who after a long day at work and longer trip home doesn't want to turn off the lights and see only stars and treetops overhead? The best bedtime reading, guarantees many nights of sweet dreams.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Bellabell on November 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was eight years old when Louise Dickinson Rich's thick book appeared, its jacket cover inviting me down a snowy path to a snug home in the pines. It was my first adult book; the fact that Mother was reading it at the same time gave the experience added zip.

The book is not a biography, not even a memoir. Instead, in a very informal, conversational style, Rich answers key questions people have asked her about her life as a writer, a wife, and a mother deep in the far north woods of Maine. One question per chapter: "Aren't You Afraid? Don't You Get Bored? How Do You Make A Living?" Her answers are candid, funny, detailed, and enlightening.

When, as a young bright college student, Louise had men breathe into her ear, "I NEED you!" she took the avowals with a few grains of salt. But when her husband Ralph comes racing into their snow-wrapped log house with blood dripping down his arm and bellows, "Louise, where ARE you? I need you, goddammit!"--she knows it's stark truth.

Rich's backwoods life details an earlier time, of course (the late Thirties), but even in that time, her way of life was an anomaly. "Outsiders" thought her life must be quaint, or picturesque, or outlandish.

Rich's no-nonsense approach sweeps these fantasies aside and shows us the reality of, say, making a week's worth of dinners out of three tins of chipped beef and a box of soda crackers. Or dealing with a sudden inflamed appendix when the snow has closed all roads to Outside, but the ice on the lake is too thin to drive across. Or why she enjoys being the preferred partner on the other end of a cross-cut saw. And how you make a satisfying community out of two other families, three heavy-drinking loggers, and a picturesque but comfort-loving sled-dog.
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