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What-are-you-reading-Wednesday: Staying Put

June 17, 2009

I’ve been wanting to re-read Walden, but instead I am reading Staying Put: Making a Home in a Restless World by Scott Russell Sanders. On the back of the book the category chosen by the publisher is “Nature/Autobiography.” For Sanders, as for Thoreau, these are not two topics but one, the life of the man being inseparable from the life of the natural world.

Sanders writes about his home as if it were Thoreau’s cabin at Walden Pond, yet it happens to be in the city of Bloomington, Indiana, where he lives with his wife and, before they grew up, his daughter and son. Thoreau had actual solitude; Sanders has the solitude of time spent alone outdoors with his thoughts and memories.

A book of collected essays, Staying Put is a meditation on dwelling in a particular place as a way of becoming grounded, finding bedrock. “One’s native ground is the place where, since before you had words for such knowledge, you have known the smells, the seasons, the birds and beasts, the human voices, the houses, the ways of working, the lay of the land, and the quality of light.”

Prose that is poetic, nonfiction that tells a story, a polemic in the form of a paean, and a path to be followed through a spiritual landscape as one would follow a guide on a wilderness trail — Scott Russell Sanders provides a perfect read for whatever quiet moment can be stolen from a restless world.

[Staying Put is included in the Indiana Humanities Council’s Humanities To Go collection, which has multiple copies of over 300 titles available for loan to book groups.]

This entry was posted by: Nancy

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