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48 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Looking Close
To appreciate Bernd Heinrich, you have to be prepared to slow down and look close. After all, the author himself has taken a year's leave of absence from a fast-paced university job to do just that. He wants to spend time in his beloved woods, study the creatures that live there and see where long rambles will take him. It not the sort of book to begin with an agenda...
Published on November 13, 2001 by Jena Ball

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It is relaxing to read this book
This book starts out pretty good but eventually becomes fragmented and seems to lose it's continuity. I grew tired of the non-stop dissertations on plant and animal life. The best parts of the book are when the author is interacting with his own species, but even those stories seemed to go nowhere. I wonder though, if the author became more eccentric after his year in...
Published on January 30, 1999


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48 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Looking Close, November 13, 2001
By 
Jena Ball "Jena Ball" (North Carolina, United States) - See all my reviews
To appreciate Bernd Heinrich, you have to be prepared to slow down and look close. After all, the author himself has taken a year's leave of absence from a fast-paced university job to do just that. He wants to spend time in his beloved woods, study the creatures that live there and see where long rambles will take him. It not the sort of book to begin with an agenda in mind.
That said, I found A Year in the Maine Woods a quixotic mix of science and human exploits - a glimpse at the lives of a whole host of insects, birds, mammals and plant life I never knew existed, and a chance to share in one person's approach to learning.
Examples? Let's take Heinrich's penchant for climbing trees. For a full-grown, adult male he really does spend a lot of time in them, and as a result has some interesting stories to tell. There's the day he finds himself scrambling up a tree to avoid a moose who refuses to yield the right of way on a trail, and the time a doe wanders under the apple tree he is sitting in and proceeds to munch away. No amount of noise or movement on Heinrich's part seems to disturb her until he descends from the tree. Then she's off like a shot!
Here's another example. Heinrich loves ravens. He is fascinated by their intelligence, close-knit family systems, their flying ability and survival skills, and is not above combing the countryside for roadkill in order to provide food for them. Heinrich's exploits with a pet raven are both hilarious and revealing. Here is a man who delights in life itself and is willing to put up with a fair amount of discomfort and irritation to learn about it.
If you enjoy learning about special places on our planet, and the creatures that inhabit them, through the eyes of those who have studied and know them intimately, then this book will delight you. If, on the other hand you like your reading to be full of fast-paced action and spine-tingling climaxes, this is not the book for you. Be prepared to read slowly and savor the pictures Heinrich offers.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A raven review..., March 7, 2004
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This review is from: A Year In The Maine Woods (Paperback)
Not planning to review this book, I changed my mind after perusing the reviews for "A Year in the Maine Woods." Most of them are by people who miss the point of his book (and, dare I say, life) entirely.
Yes, Bernd is foremost a Zoologist, and so does get a bit technical at times, but his over-whelming love of nature--and the sense that he's just a good guy doing what many of us are afraid to do (i.e. kick in our TeeVees and "get back to nature")--is enough for my vote.
In addition to the natural science found in these pages, I very much enjoyed his mundane, day-to-day observations (every time he made coffee or drank a beer, I inwardly smiled). He mixes his love for the woods with a few 21st-century earthly pleasures, as well he should. Of course he's no Thoreau, and I don't think he is in anyway trying to be. Still, he's a damn-sight closer to Nature and the ideas and mind of H.D.T than most.
Truly a pleasurable read. Thanks, Bernd.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not What I Expected...But Still Okay, January 30, 2003
This review is from: A Year In The Maine Woods (Paperback)
This is the second book by Heinrich that I have read. The first, Ravens in Winter, I found very enjoyable. (see review)
Based on the title and a review written on the book's back cover, I expected the book to be about Heinrich's year alone, except for his pet raven, Jack. With this in mind I thought we'd learn about his discoveries in nature and also his understanding into his own thoughts as he pondered life in seclusion.
This was not a book about living in the wild woods of Maine in seclusion. Heinrich often went into town and ate, met with neighbors, had family visit, and at one point he had a number of students over for a couple of weeks. Was this bad...no, but not what I expected based on the review on his book's back cover.
Heinrich has a gift in sharing information about nature. His curiosity and excitement for the natural world is contagious. In this respect I wasn't let down. He did go on quite a bit about the various things he noticed, sometimes sharing too much information, but I would just skip the paragraph and move on.
I think what appeals to me most are the times he is in seclusion and reflects on nature and his own life. He endures an amazing amount of cold...below zero, doesn't have running water, and the inside temperature in his cabin dips down below freezing on several occasions. I would enjoy many of the aspects of living in the location he speaks of but I would do it with a few extras...insulation in the walls, and electricity are two that come to mind!
Overall I did enjoy the book and I hope you do too!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars taught me how to look and see "mundane" things more clearly, July 14, 1998
This review is from: A Year In The Maine Woods (Paperback)
We just took a vacation to Maine, in the same area the author stays for a year. It was great to see the descriptions of the countryside over the 4 seasons - not just the one that we saw. The author clearly describes nature and the intricate workings and interactions of all the plants and animals - especially insects and ravens. I felt sad that he saw so much so clearly, but did not (I am guessing) see God's hand in the creation of the finely tuned machine of nature. I never thought of lumbering as an environmental tool, so that was interesting. Loved the drawings of the plants and insects. Next walk I take will be a longer, more conscious one, thanks to this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bernd Heinrich does it again, December 29, 2007
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This review is from: A Year In The Maine Woods (Paperback)
I've read several of Heinrich's books and have never been disappointed. Some reviewers compare him to Thoreau, favorably or not. While in certain places he does evoke thoughts of Thoreau, that is not what he is trying to do, contrary to what some reviewers seem to think.

As a word-class biologist and naturalist, Heinrich approaches his story of life in the Maine woods from two vantage points. First, as a scientist/naturalist, and then as a long-time resident of the area of Maine he calls home. The two themes are interwoven with a seasonal view of life in his cabin.

Unlike Thoreau, who was an amateur nineteenth century naturalist and literary philosopher, Heinrich has the advantage of being both a keen observer and a trained scientist, albeit one who grew up surrounded by nature before receiving his academic research training as a physiological ecologist. While some might find the detail he presents in places to be too much, those who really wish to learn about combining the powers of observation with scientific insights will be richly rewarded.

I must take exception to the reviewer who termed this book an "ego trip".
Heinrich is hardly parading his vast scientific knowledge for the sake of seeming erudite. The man has garnered numerous scientific and literary kudos, for both his research and nature writing, so I suspect he hardly needs to engage in an "ego trip" by trying to ape Thoreau. In fact, given his vast knowledge of biology, I would say that he strikes a good balance between telling a personal story and presenting scientific facts and insights in the context of his experience.

Having spent a few years in the area of Maine that Heinrich loves and writes about so well, I think that he does a wonderful job capturing both the nature and the lifestyle of rural Maine. If you are the type of person who enjoys taking walks in company of expertise, you will enjoy this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a book to go back to with each new season, September 9, 2000
By 
Gordon A. Monkman (Peterborough, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Year In The Maine Woods (Paperback)
Like Aldo Leopold's "Sand County Almanac",Heinrich has written a book that I find myself going back to with each changing season. His descriptions are those of an experienced naturalist who finds immense pleasure in the diversity and detail of nature. I especially enjoyed the many passages on bird song and his observations of the myriad colours and patterns in Red Maples in the fall. To fully appreciate this book, however, the reader needs to be knowledgeable about natural history. Whereas some other reviewers have said that they found the long passages about a particular plant or animal tiresome, these were the parts of the book that I enjoyed the most.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for Maine vacation reading, September 11, 2011
This review is from: A Year In The Maine Woods (Paperback)
I had bought this book back around 2007-2008 when my husband and I made our first two visits to Maine for vacation. We've since visited twice more, including this past week. Though I read dribs and drabs over the years, it finally caught my imagination, and I've read through almost all of it now. I enjoyed it a great deal- it speaks of slowing down, observing details, and appreciating the sense of accomplishment of thriving in a sometimes harsh environment. As for the content, it reads very much as a personal journal, and as another reviewer mentioned, you need to be willing to slow down and savor the details.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars because this book is fantastic., October 19, 2001
By 
Derek C. (Antelope, California United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Year In The Maine Woods (Paperback)
Bernd Heinrich does a spectacular job of compliling his experiences of spending a year in the Maine woods into a book.
This professor shows you in his journal how he explores the woods of Maine around his cabin, which is not equipped with running water or electricity.
Mr. Heinrich mentions everything from the pet raven he partly-raised to his encounter with a majestic moose that crossed his path. Other birds, insects, plants and animals that he finds on his daily walks through the remote and beautiful Maine woods are also widely mentioned. He clearly describes the flute-like song of the Hermit Thrush, the chirping of the crickets, the eerie howling of the coyotes, and much, much more.
This book is interesting and easy-to-read for nature lovers and casual observers alike who enjoy serene nature with a touch of civilization here and there.
I recommend this book and hope that Mr. Heinrich will come out with another book as good as this one soon!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The only book I have worn the cover off of, June 15, 2011
This review is from: A Year In The Maine Woods (Paperback)
There is something to be said about a book which remains on my bed stand for six years, and it's not "clean off your bed stand". In a time of escapism, A YEAR IN THE MAINE WOODS is my drug of choice. Most of Mr. Heinrich's books are delightful, they are always educational, as well as entertaining. The format of short chapters makes them timely for evening in-bed company, and they rarely repeat information, which is rare in most nature chronicles which are organized as month-by-month tomes. I have read this book so many times, that I cannot count them, and although I have read a few of Mr Heinrich's books, this particular one remains in my mind as the most engaging.If there is one fault, it would only be that I wish I had a hardcover with illustrations and fine paper, but beyond that, this book is escapist perfection.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AN EXTREMELY SATISFYING AND INFORMATIVE READ!, March 11, 2010
This review is from: A Year In The Maine Woods (Paperback)
Bernd Heinrich has become more or less an icon over the year as to natural history writing. His work and writing on the life cycle and behavior of Ravens has become classical. This offering, A Year in the Maine Woods is one of my favorites of his work.

Heinrich is a world class zoologist, expert ornithologist and an acknowledged expert on environmental issues. For me, reading this particular work was like taking a mini-seminar concerning life in the woods in the state of Maine. Heinrich is not only an expert on his subject, but has the writing ability to articulate and teach; passing bits and pieces of his knowledge on to his readers. I am certainly not a newcomer to the subjects covered by this author, but must confess that I learned much with the reading of this one!

Now before I go on there are a couple of things to note. This author is not Thoreau and if you read his work carefully, it quickly becomes apparent that he is not trying to be. Much of this "Thoreau talk" is merely wishful thinking on the part of some readers. Old Henry was a creature of a different century, was not a trained zoologist or biologist, and was of a more literary philosophical bent. He in no doubt one of my favorite writers, but when I crave a read of Thoreau I will read Thoreau and when I crave the readings of Heinrich, well then, I will read Heinrich. I certainly do not grab a book by Ray Bradbury when I have a hankering for some Emily Bronte. We are talking two different literary animals here. While there are glimmers of Thoreau's attitude in Heinrich's writing, I feel strongly that that was not his intention. Secondly, if the reader is looking for a read filled with quirky, quaint and rustic local characters, then they, the reader, will be disappointed. Suggest you read something like `The Egg and I." You will get all the quirky local characters you want in that one.

As one reviewer has pointed out, this is more or less the year long writings of a man who has sort of "dropped out," taken a bit of time off from a very fulfilling life, and more or less isolated himself in a rather primitive cabin in the Northern Woods in Maine. In many ways this is a weekly, or even daily account of his life spent there. The vast majority of this work concerns his observations as a naturalist; the wildlife, trees, flowers, insects, et al, surrounding him throughout the four seasons. There is also a record of his random thought process and little side trips into astronomy, the condition of people in general and his somewhat pragmatic view of the way we are handling our environment in the location he is living. The sketches the author provides, along with the black and white reproductions of his watercolors, are a delight to the eye and enhance the reading of the book.

As a couple of reviews here have complained; yes, the author does indeed use quite a number of scientific and technical names (gasp, Latin...how dare he), but for the life of me I cannot figure out how he could describe the various species of flora and fauna he is dealing with without using these terms. If you are uncomfortable with such, then you should probably look elsewhere. I think to receive the full impact of this work, to appreciate each and every aspect of it, then a wee bit of scientific training would be quite helpful and in order.

On the other hand, the shear joy in which the author approaches his subjects, his vivid descriptions of the plants and wild life, his description of the weather and his accounts of surviving is a cabin with no electricity, running water or indoor plumbing of any sort, is pure pleasure to read. Now I am not a cold weather person by any stretch of the imagination and feel that anything under 80 degrees is really unlivable, but even I found myself enjoying his description of the climate and how the various critters, including himself, were and are able to cope. His ability to identify hundreds of birds by their call only is more than impressive. I always considered myself pretty good at this, but have to admit my ability is a mere shadow of his and I stand in awe.

As I said before, reading this work was like taking a short course in natural history. If nothing else it certainly opens the door for the reader in many areas and certainly should encourage further learning. I know I felt a recharging of my batteries as I read this one and will certainly hit the bush with a different attitude and with even more enthusiasm after having read it.

To be quite frank, I did not find one page of this work to be boring and in fact had trouble putting it down after I started it. This one will go on my list of book that I will be rereading in the future...if for no other reason than the inspirational aspect.

My wife and I plan a trip soon to this area of the country and I am sure I will be looking at it through different eyes now.

Don Blankenship
The Ozarks
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A Year In The Maine Woods
A Year In The Maine Woods by Bernd Heinrich (Paperback - November 8, 1995)
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