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Chosen by The Guardian  newspaper as a best book of 2017


April 28, 2017

A beautiful book...It's the sort of book that encourages one to get outside, to go in search of something powerful, something fragile yet enduring.” —John Kaag.  

Read the review in the Wall Street Journal

On Brain Pickings, by Maria Popova:

Thoreau's love of them comes alive in Thoreau and the Language of Treesa selection of the great Transcendentalist poet and philosopher’s meditations on trees, drawn from his two-million-word journal by writer and photographer Richard Higgins, whose beautiful black-and-white photographs complement Thoreau’s arboreal writings.” 

Read her post on the book, Thoreau on Nature as Prayer 

Other reviews (some are reviews of several Thoreau books that only mention my own):

Times Literary Supplement

New York Review of Books

The Atlantic

America Magazine

Harper’s (excerpt)

American Scientist (interview)

Irish Times

Radio Open Source with Chris Lydon (excerpt)

Financial Times

The Berkshire Eagle

Thoreau Farm Blog

Collector’s Daily (art blog)

American Booksellers Assn (blog)

Akron Beacon Journal (blog)

Comments by readers:

 “This book does the remarkable: it says something new and exciting about a thinker who has been examined minutely. Plus, the book is gorgeously packaged.”

—Stephen Sparks, Point Reyes, CA, on the American Booksellers Association blog

I’d been wanting to read it Thoreau and the Language of Trees for a few months, and it’s even better than I thought it would be.  The book is a short compilation of his journals and other writings on trees, accompanied by photographs the author took while exploring Thoreau’s New England.  It’s a beautiful book, one that causes me to pause and take a look around at the beauty that surrounds me every time I step outside.

—Matt Lafleur,  on the spirituality blog

Whether you're meeting Thoreau for the first time or returning after a long separation, Richard Higgins' new work is an ideal entry point to a fruitful relationship. Selections of Thoreau's meditations on New England's forests are framed by Higgins' notes on their historical and literary context, along with original photography by the author. Higgins' writing is thoughtful and reflective, and yet with as light a touch as the breeze through Thoreau's beloved trees.

Reviewer on the book page


Thoreau and the Language of Trees is an exquisite book physically as well as a piece of literary beauty. The silver embossed cover on green linen and the structure of the book and chapter headings in bold read as a prose poem, and the photographs with Thoreau's drawings animate the ideas that unfurl organically.”

—Terry Tempest Williams, author

The Hour of Land: A Personal

Topography of America's Parks

"There is real magic in this book. Richard Higgins has walked where Thoreau walked, seen what Thoreau saw, and seen it with some-thing close to Thoreau’s own intensity. Higgins’s avidity, eagerness, sharp focus and descriptive brilliance excite the reader to see what he and Thoreau have seen and to feel what they felt. This is an electric, exhilarating book that lifts the reader’s spirit. … His photography stands up to those of Herbert Wendell Gleason in the book. …The trees spoke to Thoreau, and he learned their language. Those same trees have spoken to Higgins. They can speak to you.”

     — Robert D. Richardson, author

Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind 

“This beautiful book brings us face to face with one of Thoreau’s true passions—his love for trees, leaf by leaf and in the whole. Few books satisfy the eye, the mind, and the heart so fully as this one: one part elegy, two parts celebration, deep-rooted in the earth, and brimful with sheer joy.”

     —Laura Dassow Walls, author 

Henry David Thoreau: A Life

"Thoreau and the Language of Trees elegantly fills a significant, previously unoccupied niche.  The perceptive introduction and thematic chapter essays combine with excerpts from Thoreau and new and vintage photographs to create a masterfully guided tour.  Its sylvan revelations speak to the imagination and the intellect."

     Ronald Hoag, East Carolina University

“Trees were always Thoreau’s best companions. He studied them with love and care, and from that knowledge built noble lessons for us all on how to live. As a writer and photographer, Richard Higgins has made of that material a brilliant, evocative book.

     —William Howarth, The Book of Concord 

 “Thoreau wrote that ‘trees indeed have hearts.’ Richard Higgins has found the heart and the soul of the tree in this expressive compilation of his writings on trees.”

     —Jeffrey Cramer, editor, The Portable Thoreau

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