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4.8 out of 5 stars34
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on November 15, 2012
I am, by choice, a city girl. I don't particularly like nature, other than the odd pretty patch of flowers. I dislike dirt to the point of being phobic. Being around too many trees at once makes me nervous. So I'm not sure what possessed me to say yes when offered the chance to review a new book called Closer to the Ground. Perhaps it was because the author and his family live in my region. Or perhaps it was just the idea of getting a glimpse into a life so different from my own. Regardless of the reason, I am SO glad I accepted the chance. Closer to the Ground is not only the best non-fiction book I've read all year, it rivals most fiction books as well. This is a gorgeous, amazing book.

Where to begin on listing the reasons why I love this book. Hard to know. But here goes. First of all, this isn't some diatribe about why we should all live a life that's close to nature. The author, Dylan Tomine, doesn't judge people like me who prefer to live surrounded by concrete. He even talks about the challenges of living "green" and making it work financially (spoiler alert- even his family doesn't manage to be totally eco-friendly on a remodeling project). Instead, this book is a exploration of the joys that the author finds in his daily life out in nature- whether it's crab fishing or hunting for mushrooms with his son. It's a book about learning from the simple pleasures that his daughter takes from fishing.

Woven in with the stories of clamming and fishing and mushroom hunting is a funny storyline about the battle to have enough firewood for the winter. We're moving in a few weeks from a condo to a townhouse with a woodstove, so I took notes regarding the "how to take care of your firewood" sections. There is also an ongoing story of the importance and symbolism of birds. And there are a few surprising tales about his family members and the fact that they were in internment camps during WW2.

Mr. Tomine is a very, very talented writer who uses his words in a way that's more art than authorship. I felt like I was experiencing the seasons on his island right along side him (without all the nasty exposure to dirt that I generally avoid). This book made me think and it made me smile and it made me happy. I was surprised by how sad I felt when I finished the last chapter. That doesn't happen often to me when I'm reviewing books, as I'm generally just glad to have one more thing checked off my to-do list.

Just buy this book. It's great. Trust me.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book to review, but was under no obligation to post a review, and especially not a positive one. Every word of opinion expressed in this review is mine and mine alone.
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on October 27, 2012
A book that is perfect on so many levels -I'm a guy who has chopped 6 cords of firewood this summer- I totally related to the continuing theme of wood for the fire , and how it is a yearlong pursuit.. I'm an aspiring sportsman (don't ask me how I made fake downriggers out of clothesline, a 3 lbs dumbell and clothespins) the stories of Shrimp, Crab and Salmon made me smile. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, the descriptions of friends and family working together touched on so many good memories of my friends doing the same. As a Dad, many of the stories of doing stuff with kids and the observations of small ones, combined with male parent angle made me feel glad I wasn't the only one who has to keep reminding myself "it's about the path ".....

A book like this could easily slip into a militant position manifesto - It doesn't - which makes it even more approachable and real...I appreciate the chapter about the Prius vs Montero - the though process involved - and the conclusion of the debate.

Many of these chapters could easily be lifted out and placed in Savuer, Esquire, even the New Yorker.....I think this belongs on any Northwest inspired bookshelf alongside "The Curve of Time" and "Sea Pup"

Next time I see a skiff on the Sound with two kids and a Dad with a special necklace, I'll make sure to smile and give a BIG wave.
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on November 7, 2012
Perfect title for the book. Skillfully written in a way that fills one with a deeper appreciation of nature, food, family and basic values. In a leisurely way, though wonderful story telling, Dylan Tomine informs as he reveals a world filled with wonder, love and life.
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on November 12, 2012
CLOSER TO THE GROUND by Dylan Tomine is a wonderful memoir. It is written with depth,description and heart. "An outdoor family's year on the water,in the woods and at the table." Mr. Tomine gave up his career to show his children his love of hunting,fishing,humor,adventure,and eating. His love of the sea,nature,and woods shows through on every page. A compelling and complex tale of a family through the seasons.A must for fathers,grandfathers and mother alike,who enjoy hunting,fishing and the great outdoors and would share their love of nature with their loved ones. Written from the heart for all of us to enjoy. A great story to share.Received for an honest review from the author/publisher.Details can be found at the author's website,Patagonia Books and My Book Addiction and More.



REVIEWED BY: AprilR, My Book Addiction and More/My Book Addiction Reviews
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon October 26, 2012
This was such an interesting book, as the author did something drastic in today's standards and walked away from all of the technology and conveniences that we survive on to change the lives of his family and instead turn back to a more natural existence which allows his wife and himself to raise their children in a more natural, more connected to nature way. The book was well written and provides the reader with such vivid imagery about the life that they are living now. I was impressed with this monumental jump into the unknown and how well the family makes the transition as I do not know how I for one, would be able to remain unconnected as this family did. I was envious though by the one-on-one connection that the author had with his family and I could tell that his removal from Seattle to Puget Sound was both intentional and made a lot of sense. For any of you that are looking for a book that will draw you in and encourage you to keep reading, this was definitely the book.
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on November 8, 2012
I found Dylan Tomine's wonderful book to be thought provoking, mesmerizing, charming, hilarious and unable to put down. With each page of every short story I found myself wanting more. I'm left with tremendous admiration for this hard working family and as the years pass and the kids mature, I will be wondering more about the antics of the Tomine clan. Closer to the Ground seems to necessitate a sequel or maybe two.
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on December 13, 2013
Great book dealing with how we work and play and teach our children to respect, enjoy and eat from the natural world that surrounds all of us. The book follows a family through the year, planning, preparing, eating and enjoying the bounty that is outside the door. We can't live in the Hood Canal of Puget Sound, but we all can explore and nurture what is in our own environment and how we can protect it from overuse but also reap its' benefits. As a gardener, the book sets an example on how to plan and grow for your family to maybe not be totally self-sufficient but to enjoy the flavor of home grown food which can be supplemented by food caught or foraged locally. The book has encouraged me to me to study more of what is available in the woods and rivers nearby
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on November 29, 2012
5 of 5 stars
"It's like reading a novel by a young, sober, grounded Hemingway. My first reaction was almost sadness because at 71 years I'll probably not be able to move to Bainbridge. My second reaction was fear that as a result of this book too many people might move to Brainbridge.
I read the book cover to cover without a pause. Lost in this beautiful view into an ideal family life story.
Tomine is brilliant!"
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on December 20, 2012
While struggling to find ways to live a more sustainable life within sight of a major city, Dylan Tomine reflects many of the internal dialogues that typify the challenges of making "the right choices." Beyond Tomine's wonderful writing style, what draws the reader and Tomine forward is the way he is informed by his two small children--and I say that in the most manly way.
I'll be giving many copies as gifts..
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on December 19, 2015
Raising our kids in Florida, we were hunter gatherers on and in the Gulf of Mexico for years. Mr. Tomine's stories bring happy nostalgic memories despite the very different locations and specific types of fishing and clamming. The current running throughout is one of enjoying family time, teaching self efficiency and the value of teamwork, and respecting/caring for our God given world in the process. Good stuff!
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