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News & Reference

About Our Wilderness Classics

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With our days being so overtaken by technology in the modern era, we must try to remember every once in a while to take a moment to appreciate the world around us, especially today on Earth Day!

It is so easy to glaze over reminders as they flash at us on posters and screens, and so it is our responsibility to be mindful and revisit the reasons why we should care.

Though we may not be convinced to return to the ‘simple living’ that many of our great American authors wrote about, there is value in being able to find peace in some of the lessons that they teach us. From the pastoral and naturalist works of Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, and John Muir, to the free and wild works of John Wesley Powell, Mark Twain, and Jack London– everyone can find a love for the worlds that have been shed light on in these classics.

Our Wilderness Classics from Gibbs Smith pull together some of our favorite readings from an era where nature was at the forefront of writers minds. It comes in three different combinations, which pull together some selected works that highlight the ideals of an era long gone– beauty, exploration, and connection to nature.

A bit more about some choice books from our collection:

Leaves of Grass is a set of poems that was revised and rewritten multiple times from its first published edition to Walt Whitman’s death in 1892. His celebration and praise of life and humanity in these poems were ultimately a life-long work. Whitman wrote dearly and pleadingly to his readers to experience this positive vision of life with him, from “Song of Myself” he wrote:

“Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin
of all poems,
You shall possess the good of the earth and sun, (there are millions
of suns left,)”

Walt Whitman

Filled with the same kind of passion and delight as Whitman, John Muir’s book Our National Parks was meant to urge the preservation of the National Parks of the American West back in 1901. This body of essays speaks to the power of those with a desire for change, because his message for this publication (and other articles, including our other editions of his Travels in Alaska and Wilderness Essays) reached the heart of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, who was convinced by Muir to return Mariposa Grove and Yosemite Valley to federal preservation– as part of Yosemite National Park.

Whether in the form of poems, essays, travel logs, or novels, each work has been chosen as part of our three different sets to inspire those who need another look at the beauty that nature brings. And these wonderfully playful hardcover volumes by publisher Gibbs Smith give a modern spark to the original stories, showing how we can turn old ideas into something bright and new.