March 28, 2013

Women and Wilderness by Anne LaBastille

This was a pretty inspiring book. Combining the outdoors with some of the women who pioneered their way into the fields of science and nature, it's not surprising that you'd get a book filled with strong women and interesting careers. And while it's a little outdated, the general theme and the stories of these women are timeless.

LaBastille is a well known wilderness women herself, who has written many books about her experiences in the Adirondacks. But in this book, she chooses to focus on others. The first section is a history of women and what brought them to the wilderness. Their stories range from following husbands out West to wanting land of their own. Then she moves into modern day women (or at least modern when the book was written) who have all pursued careers in the fields of nature and science and have really paved the way for other women looking to enter the field. These women range from biologists, herpetologists, log cabin builders and more. And each lady gets her own section in which LaBastille highlights her talents.

In the first part, we get a little sense of each of the historical people in the book. In confess, they weren't as interesting, probably because it was harder to relate to them and their experiences. But the modern women, oh it brought about the want to go off into the woods and do something good for nature. Each woman had such an interesting story and a struggle to get to it in some cases. They all shared a love of wilderness of course, but also an exuberance for life that was very catching. And LaBastille does a good job of getting those emotions across. And even though this book can probably be categorized as feminist, it wasn't degrading to men at all. It was just focused on women and their achievements.

As said before, I wasn't quite as connected to the first part of the book. It read more like a history textbook and was kind of disjointed. But the stories about the women, those are what I really enjoyed. They just seemed to be living and loving their lives and they did such good for the world. It's hard for me to believe that by the time I read this book, many are dead and the others are quite elderly now. They just feel so alive, like they are still out there working and doing what they've always been doing. And aside from just showcasing women in these jobs, it also highlighted the jobs themselves. There were a lot of things, like the women who worked for the Olympics, preserving the area around the ski slopes, that I wouldn't have even imagined could be a job. And really, the list of books on the subject or written by these women, is reason enough to read this book. My to-read list just grew by a mile I think. But I do have to say that you could tell this was written in the seventies. For almost every woman, an astrological sign was somehow mentioned.

This is a well put-together book. Not only does it highlight some important women who were just a bit "wild", it showed that anyone can do any job, as long as they have the passion and want for it.

Women and Wilderness
Copyright 1980
308 pages

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