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“In me, there is the red of miry clay, the brown of spring floods, the gold of ripening tobacco. All of these hues are me; I am, in the deepest sense, colored.” From these fertile soils of love, land, identity, family, and race emerges The Home Place, a big-hearted, unforgettable memoir by ornithologist and professor of ecology J. Drew Lanham. Dating back to slavery, Edgefi “In me, there is the red of miry clay, the brown of spring floods, the gold of ripening tobacco. All of these hues are me; I am, in the deepest sense, colored.” From these fertile soils of love, land, identity, family, and race emerges The Home Place, a big-hearted, unforgettable memoir by ornithologist and professor of ecology J. Drew Lanham. Dating back to slavery, Edgefield County, South Carolina—a place “easy to pass by on the way somewhere else”—has been home to generations of Lanhams. In The Home Place, readers meet these extraordinary people, including Drew himself, who over the course of the 1970s falls in love with the natural world around him. As his passion takes flight, however, he begins to ask what it means to be “the rare bird, the oddity.” By turns angry, funny, elegiac, and heartbreaking, The Home Place is a remarkable meditation on nature and belonging, at once a deeply moving memoir and riveting exploration of the contradictions of black identity in the rural South—and in America today.


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“In me, there is the red of miry clay, the brown of spring floods, the gold of ripening tobacco. All of these hues are me; I am, in the deepest sense, colored.” From these fertile soils of love, land, identity, family, and race emerges The Home Place, a big-hearted, unforgettable memoir by ornithologist and professor of ecology J. Drew Lanham. Dating back to slavery, Edgefi “In me, there is the red of miry clay, the brown of spring floods, the gold of ripening tobacco. All of these hues are me; I am, in the deepest sense, colored.” From these fertile soils of love, land, identity, family, and race emerges The Home Place, a big-hearted, unforgettable memoir by ornithologist and professor of ecology J. Drew Lanham. Dating back to slavery, Edgefield County, South Carolina—a place “easy to pass by on the way somewhere else”—has been home to generations of Lanhams. In The Home Place, readers meet these extraordinary people, including Drew himself, who over the course of the 1970s falls in love with the natural world around him. As his passion takes flight, however, he begins to ask what it means to be “the rare bird, the oddity.” By turns angry, funny, elegiac, and heartbreaking, The Home Place is a remarkable meditation on nature and belonging, at once a deeply moving memoir and riveting exploration of the contradictions of black identity in the rural South—and in America today.

30 review for The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair with Nature

  1. 4 out of 5

    Melki

    Nature seems worthy of worship. Lanham, a Professor of Wildlife Ecology at Clemson University, presents a wonderful gift - the story of his boyhood spent mostly outdoors in Edgefield, South Carolina. He pays tribute to his family's homestead, and its remarkable inhabitants - his strong grandmother, and schoolteacher parents. But mostly, the book is filled with homages to the beauty of nature. There's so much wonderful writing here, it was hard to pick out just a few passages, but as one who spent Nature seems worthy of worship. Lanham, a Professor of Wildlife Ecology at Clemson University, presents a wonderful gift - the story of his boyhood spent mostly outdoors in Edgefield, South Carolina. He pays tribute to his family's homestead, and its remarkable inhabitants - his strong grandmother, and schoolteacher parents. But mostly, the book is filled with homages to the beauty of nature. There's so much wonderful writing here, it was hard to pick out just a few passages, but as one who spent many a lovely Sunday morning held prisoner in church, this one struck a chord: There was no air conditioning in the church for a long time. That meant that it was hot, sometimes hellishly so. The place where Jesus and his angry father lived to help me get into paradise wasn't even comfortable. The pictures on the church fans - Martin Luther King Jr.'s intensely kind gaze; the detached but perfectly poised (and suspiciously white) praying hands; and my favorite, the perfect little white country church nestled in autumn splendor -were minor but welcome distractions that helped to pass the hours. Was there another tortured, starving black boy, I wondered, sitting in the perfect little church, forever imprisoned in the fan's flat dimensions? Surely it was cooler in there. The leafy riot of red and yellow framing the little chapel looked like October should feel. I could imagine the frosty morning, smell the ripening season, hear the honking geese overhead. Were the brilliant colors of the leaves against the perfect blue sky what heaven looked like? I hoped so. I dreamed of that place. Not the little church - or even heaven - but the brilliant landscape and the wild perfection that surrounded it. My God lived out there. This book had much in common with Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There, a title that helped awaken the author's interest in his surroundings. In addition to his childhood memories, Lanham also discusses his adult life spent observing nature, including a funny, yet somewhat harrowing chapter on birding while black: . . . here I am, on stop number thirty-two of the Laurel Falls Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) route: a large black man in one of the whitest places in the state, sitting on the side of the road with binoculars pointed toward a house with the Confederate flag proudly displayed. Rambling trucks passing by, a honking horn or two, and curious double-takes are infrequent but still distract me from the task at hand. Maybe there's some special posthumous award given for dying in the line of duty on a BBS route . . . On mornings like this I sometimes question why I choose to do such things. Was I crazy to take this route, up here, so far away from anything? What if someone in the house is not so keen on having a black man out here, maybe checking out things - or people - he shouldn't be? I've heard that some mountain folks don't like nosy outsiders poking around. Yet here I am, a black man birding. This is simply a joy to read, offering a look back, a glance at the future, and an awestruck, wide-eyed examination of the magnificence that surrounds us. It was a universe where wonder and awe had yet to be tossed from the temple by science and cynicism. There was way more to heaven and earth than could be dreamed back then. It was a different world, one I sometimes wish I could revisit.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Scott Neuffer

    Perhaps the most monumental book I've read or reviewed about race relations in America. Lanham, a black naturalist, birder, and professor, shares his fond memories of his beloved family ranch in South Carolina. His land ethic, stemming from Leopold, Carson, and other conservationist luminaries, is unique in that it addresses a segment of the population historically dispossessed of land. His accounts of racism in the South are harrowing, while his passages on nature are gorgeous. This is a signif Perhaps the most monumental book I've read or reviewed about race relations in America. Lanham, a black naturalist, birder, and professor, shares his fond memories of his beloved family ranch in South Carolina. His land ethic, stemming from Leopold, Carson, and other conservationist luminaries, is unique in that it addresses a segment of the population historically dispossessed of land. His accounts of racism in the South are harrowing, while his passages on nature are gorgeous. This is a significant read in many ways, deepening our understanding of race in America but also the continued importance of forward-looking conservation.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tama

    As a teen and twenty-something I read loads of great nature writing from the 50s and 60s, and Lanham's style is definitely reminiscent of those years. I woke early this morning just to read before I went to work, and now I can't wait until the day is done so I can pick up that book again A gorgeous, gentle memoir. I'm only halfway through, but this is already the best book I've read this year, surpassing 'Lab Girl' by a smidge. As a teen and twenty-something I read loads of great nature writing from the 50s and 60s, and Lanham's style is definitely reminiscent of those years. I woke early this morning just to read before I went to work, and now I can't wait until the day is done so I can pick up that book again A gorgeous, gentle memoir. I'm only halfway through, but this is already the best book I've read this year, surpassing 'Lab Girl' by a smidge.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Shirleynature

    Lanham shares lyrically-written stories, deep connections to family, his strong sense of place, a passion for nature, and optimism and humor, along with the frustration of being the uncommon African American ornithologist in a predominantly white field. Every reader will be inspired and feel these connections. I highly recommend this book to book clubs! Link to my interview with the author: https://lplks.org/blogs/post/j-drew-l... Lanham shares lyrically-written stories, deep connections to family, his strong sense of place, a passion for nature, and optimism and humor, along with the frustration of being the uncommon African American ornithologist in a predominantly white field. Every reader will be inspired and feel these connections. I highly recommend this book to book clubs! Link to my interview with the author: https://lplks.org/blogs/post/j-drew-l...

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    Like Drew Lanham himself, this book is big-hearted, funny, generous, and grounded in a deep love for the natural world. Aldo Leopold famously described how landowners write their signatures on the face of the land as they make management choices. In this memoir about growing up in rural South Carolina, Drew Lanham shows us how the land writes its own signature on us. This signature, part of the "colored" identity of Lanham, is revealed in these pages as indelible in ways that are deeply tied to Like Drew Lanham himself, this book is big-hearted, funny, generous, and grounded in a deep love for the natural world. Aldo Leopold famously described how landowners write their signatures on the face of the land as they make management choices. In this memoir about growing up in rural South Carolina, Drew Lanham shows us how the land writes its own signature on us. This signature, part of the "colored" identity of Lanham, is revealed in these pages as indelible in ways that are deeply tied to family and memory. It represents ties that concurrently bind us and guide us forward, forever shaping the people we are, the choices we make, and the understanding we have of the world. As you meet the Lanham clan and travel through Drew's youthful explorations of the "Home Place," you'll feel the gentle press of the crayons too. They will fill in places in your heart that may have faded from memory, but nonetheless bind us together in the common ground of family, freedom, coming of age, and love. This is a must-read for any lover of nature or of great nature writing. One of the best things I read this year.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    This excellent memoir recounts the author’s experiences growing up in a hard working African-American family living on their own farm in South Carolina. Each chapter independently explores an aspect of his relationship with his family and/or his encounters with nature, then and now; together they provide an overview of the author’s unique perspective and the bedrock it is built on. Well-written, thoughtful, and thought-provoking.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Leslie Reese

    Despite being unevenly written, I really appreciate this book and ultimately found it strongly inspiring. I've been journaling in response.... Despite being unevenly written, I really appreciate this book and ultimately found it strongly inspiring. I've been journaling in response....

  8. 5 out of 5

    Emma Hanlin

    The content of this book is fascinating and crucial in the white-dominated field of environmental studies. Lanham focuses on his upbringing in a farm in South Carolina, the "Home Place," exploring how his connection to the land directed the course of his future and was complicated by the past (read: slavery). He writes about becoming an ornithologist despite feeling as though this wasn't something black boys did, the struggles of birding in the rural South as a man of color, his search to find h The content of this book is fascinating and crucial in the white-dominated field of environmental studies. Lanham focuses on his upbringing in a farm in South Carolina, the "Home Place," exploring how his connection to the land directed the course of his future and was complicated by the past (read: slavery). He writes about becoming an ornithologist despite feeling as though this wasn't something black boys did, the struggles of birding in the rural South as a man of color, his search to find his genealogy and discover how his ancestors came to Edgefield, his choice to change his degree from engineering to zoology before his senior year of college, and other experiences and influences that directed his life. The story of Lanham's life, family, and career kept me intrigued throughout the book. He gives great insight into how to make environmentalism a more inclusive field and why African Americans might struggle to feel connected to the land. The writing style of the book, however, is a barrier to enjoying the content. The language is flowery, synonyms are used in confusing ways, there is a new metaphor in almost every paragraph, and there are countless allusions and cliches that don't seem intentional. Granted, Lanham is an ornithologist, not a writer, and it's a little difficult to criticize a memoir ("How DARE you interpret your own life in that way?"), but as a reader the experience was a little exhausting.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Misti

    I can't begin to express how much I loved this book! I took my time with it and really savored it. I can't begin to express how much I loved this book! I took my time with it and really savored it.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Wendalina

    I caught the tail end of a show on NPR that featured J. Drew Lanham speaking. He'd written an essay, Birding While Black, and also this book, The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair with Nature. I can't recall what he said specifically in the two minutes of the interview that I'd heard, but I was intrigued and I tracked down this book. What a sense of place he creates. Everything is so vivid. It's a real treat to read someone who is so observant share it all with you. The birds, t I caught the tail end of a show on NPR that featured J. Drew Lanham speaking. He'd written an essay, Birding While Black, and also this book, The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair with Nature. I can't recall what he said specifically in the two minutes of the interview that I'd heard, but I was intrigued and I tracked down this book. What a sense of place he creates. Everything is so vivid. It's a real treat to read someone who is so observant share it all with you. The birds, the trees, the cows, the bugs, his home place, his family - I feel like I've been to Edgefield, South Carolina. A taste of his words and his view on his world: "Before I got too deep into the woods, I might take a few minutes to lie in the pasture lane, enticing the 'buzzards' to investigate. I lay as still as I could and did my best imitation of something stinking and dead. Once or twice the ruse worked and I could almost count the feathers in the broad black wings and seethe bare red heads twisting to investigate before my nerve shriveled. I miraculously revived to run away before the vultures could peck my eyes out, like Mamatha had warned me they'd do. I felt closer to flight by bringing the birds nearer to my earthbound existence. Watching those scavengers tracing circles in the sky was hypnotic. I often wished we could trade places, that I could sail as effortlessly on the wind as they did." (excerpted from the section, Flock, chapter titled, The Home Place, which is also the name of the book). I'm grateful to have caught that 2 minutes on NPR so that I could hear about J Drew Lanham and find this book. It was so interesting and so beautifully written. Makes me want to get outside. Also eye opening to what it's like to be a black man out in nature, and on lands nurtured by slave labor. I'm not always drawn in to read history, so it was nice to get the history by way of an author who loves and appreciates nature so much. Very good book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Trish Remley

    This book was an easy 4 star rating for me, but the last four chapters elevated it to 5 stars. I am of somewhat similar age as Mr. Lanham and could relate to many of his childhood memories concerning events, tv shows, having parents as teachers and the importance of education, and BB guns of the time. Although I spent much of my summer time in a camp house my dad built in Maine with an outhouse, running around the woods, working in my grandparents vegetable garden, and swimming in the ocean, the This book was an easy 4 star rating for me, but the last four chapters elevated it to 5 stars. I am of somewhat similar age as Mr. Lanham and could relate to many of his childhood memories concerning events, tv shows, having parents as teachers and the importance of education, and BB guns of the time. Although I spent much of my summer time in a camp house my dad built in Maine with an outhouse, running around the woods, working in my grandparents vegetable garden, and swimming in the ocean, the majority of my childhood was spent in the suburbs of a small city in Western Massachusetts. It really wasn't until my adult life that I took a real interest and appreciation in nature. Mr Lanham's retelling of his childhood through adult life with his love of nature running through it was wonderful. The descriptions & telling of his family members gave me a real picture of each of their beings. As a fellow birder, I never really thought about who birds and who is out in nature and who is not. But the last four chapters connecting his last name and ancestry of southern black America to the same last name of the southern white Americans in his own county was eye opening. Two churches/one name. Please read it. Being white and not from the south, I know I do not understand, but Mr. Lanham helps me to. All very upsetting. And as Mr Lanham alludes to, slavery may be a reason why there aren't as many people of color out there birding & loving nature. I missed a chance to hear him in Lawrence, KS and I really regret that.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    “I am a man in love with nature. I am an eco-addict, consuming everything that the outdoors offers its all-you-can-sense, seasonal buffet. I am a wildling, born of forests and fields and more comfortable on unpaved back roads and winding woodland paths than in any place where concrete, asphalt, and crowds prevail.” “Being a birder in the United States means that you're probably a middle-aged, middle-class, well-educated white man. While most of the labels apply to me, I am a black man and there “I am a man in love with nature. I am an eco-addict, consuming everything that the outdoors offers its all-you-can-sense, seasonal buffet. I am a wildling, born of forests and fields and more comfortable on unpaved back roads and winding woodland paths than in any place where concrete, asphalt, and crowds prevail.” “Being a birder in the United States means that you're probably a middle-aged, middle-class, well-educated white man. While most of the labels apply to me, I am a black man and there fore a birding anomaly. The chances of seeing someone who looks like me while on the trail are only slightly greater than those of sighting an ivory-billed woodpecker.” “I've expanded the walls of my spiritual existence beyond the pews and pulpit to include longleaf savannas, salt marshes, cove forests, and tall-grass prairie. The miracles for me are in migratory journeys and moonlit nights. Swan song is sacred. Nature seems worthy of worship.” I had not heard of Professor Lanham before reading this solid memoir, which is a bit surprising since I am a fellow birder, nature-lover and avid reader. Regardless, I enjoyed following his history, growing up in rural southwestern South Carolina. His family were farmers and this where he learned to love the outdoors and respect hard work. He also witnessed the racism that ravaged the south in the 1960s and this also shaped the man he became. He also turned out to be an accomplished writer and poet. My only quibble was, I would have liked more of his birding life. I felt short-changed.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Woody

    One of the best, most timely memoirs I've read, Lanham writes eloquently about his upbringing in rural South Carolina, and how he came to be a natural history professor, birder and conservationist. His example is inspiring, his humility refreshing, and his world-view, much-needed. He's a kindred spirit I hope to meet some day. One of the best, most timely memoirs I've read, Lanham writes eloquently about his upbringing in rural South Carolina, and how he came to be a natural history professor, birder and conservationist. His example is inspiring, his humility refreshing, and his world-view, much-needed. He's a kindred spirit I hope to meet some day.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Belardi

    This is a BOOK. I wish more people knew about it. I heard about it from Jason Ward in his birding class. If books are supposed to let us walk in someone else's shoes, this is five stars all around. I learned so much in so few words, and felt like I was in the home place and so many other natural areas he talked about. Highly recommend. This is a BOOK. I wish more people knew about it. I heard about it from Jason Ward in his birding class. If books are supposed to let us walk in someone else's shoes, this is five stars all around. I learned so much in so few words, and felt like I was in the home place and so many other natural areas he talked about. Highly recommend.

  15. 5 out of 5

    John Moore

    Few books have been as enjoyable to read as The Home Place. Lanham, a master storyteller, writes beautifully about his homeplace and his life experience. It is a particular story with broad appeal. Lanham loves nature and his telling of his story draws the reader into their own love affair with nature. The Home Place is also a telling of the story of race in America. I was particularly moved by Lanham's attempt to connect with his family's history, a story with roots in slavery. Lanham, and his Few books have been as enjoyable to read as The Home Place. Lanham, a master storyteller, writes beautifully about his homeplace and his life experience. It is a particular story with broad appeal. Lanham loves nature and his telling of his story draws the reader into their own love affair with nature. The Home Place is also a telling of the story of race in America. I was particularly moved by Lanham's attempt to connect with his family's history, a story with roots in slavery. Lanham, and his family, have roots in the soil, history and culture of South Carolina. Lanham, in one self description: I am an ornithologist, wildlife ecologist, and college professor. I am a father, husband, son, and brother. I hope to some I am a friend. I bird. I hunt. I gather. I am a seeker and a noticer. I am a lover. My being finds its foundation in open places. I’m a man of color— Highly recommended.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Shana

    Memoirs are not my favorites, and this suffered from many of the typical flaws of the genre: self indulgent digressions, rambling narrative structure, and a lack of a clear and compelling story. Home Place is most successful in its plentiful and poetic descriptions of the natural world. The prose is frequently beautiful.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Eliz L

    This memoir contains lots of really lush descriptions and interesting perspectives on being a black man, raised in the south, who loves nature, hunting, birding, etc. It doesn't really hold together as a complete work. The writing is sometimes good and sometimes fine. I enjoyed learning about JDL's upbringing and appreciate his perspective. This memoir contains lots of really lush descriptions and interesting perspectives on being a black man, raised in the south, who loves nature, hunting, birding, etc. It doesn't really hold together as a complete work. The writing is sometimes good and sometimes fine. I enjoyed learning about JDL's upbringing and appreciate his perspective.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Fuhr

    “Place and land and nature: how we tie these things together is critical to our sense of self-purpose and our fit in the world. They are the trinity. This is true for people everywhere, but nowhere is it truer than in the South.” Genius. Glad he shared his story. ❤️

  19. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    This book feels like a generous gift - so personal and insightful and amazing. I hope to read parts of it again before it's due back at the library. This book feels like a generous gift - so personal and insightful and amazing. I hope to read parts of it again before it's due back at the library.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Julie H.

    J. Drew Lanham's The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair with Nature is a beautifully written memoir by a self-described wandering, wondering, watcher--an ornithologist and conservationist by profession--whose love of the wild was inspired by a childhood exploring and helping his family work their part of an inholding on USFS lands in Edgefield, South Carolina. The book is about nature, family, race, class, environment, and--above all else--it's about the importance of place. In t J. Drew Lanham's The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair with Nature is a beautifully written memoir by a self-described wandering, wondering, watcher--an ornithologist and conservationist by profession--whose love of the wild was inspired by a childhood exploring and helping his family work their part of an inholding on USFS lands in Edgefield, South Carolina. The book is about nature, family, race, class, environment, and--above all else--it's about the importance of place. In the course of exploring this theme, the book is a testimony to humanity's responsibility to the wild things and places where they thrive and develops into, on balance, a non-preachy treatise regarding the importance of our role as temporary stewards in using and managing those places responsibility so as to ensure their long-term survival. In short, it's about time we stopped playing checkers and started playing chess. Dr. Lanham recounts stories of his childhood, formative years spent with his paternal grandmother known to him as Mamatha who was equal parts devout Baptist, conjurer, and gardener, the many lessons learned from his resilient and highly-regarded parents, and how he came to find himself in a career built upon a foundation laid on that plot of land lovingly referred to as The Home Place. Lanham recounts incidents from childhood, from college and graduate school, his professional life as a tenure track professor at Clemson, and what he hopes his next steps might be for creating an updated and sustainable equivalent of the beloved acreage on land remaining in family hands. The structure of the book is elegant--paralleling Lanham's development and that of birds in three sections that evolve outward from his family's roots on The Home Place (Flock), to his formative years and education (Fledgling), and to charting his own path and pivoting from a stance of objective, scientific data collector and number cruncher to something more (Flight). Drew is a problem solver, as were his parents before him. As one example, he notes that he is the anomaly in the birding/ornithology world, frequently commented upon as a rarity, even recounting an incident on a day he was pretty certain he was going to die at the hand of white racists on account of "birding while black." He quickly pivots, however, to actionable steps that can and should be taken noting, So while I can't fix the bigger problems of race in the United States--can't suggest a means by which I, and others like me, will always feel safe--I can prescribe a solution in my own small corner. Get more people of color "out there." Turn oddities into commonplace. The presence of more black birders, wildlife biologists, hunters, hikers, and fisherfolk, will say to others that we, too, appreciate the warble of a summer tanager, the incredible instincts of a whitetail buck, and the sound of wind in the tall pines. Our responsibility is to pass something on to those coming after. As young people of color reconnect with what so many of their ancestors knew--that our connections to the land run deep, like the taproots of mighty oaks; that the land renews and sustains us, maybe things will begin to change (p. 157). For such a short and highly readable book, Lanham covers a tremendous amount of ground. The Home Place is a generous, provocative, and--it is to be hoped--inspiring book. There is much to ponder here, and it strongly suggests to me that it's time to give Leopold's Sand County Almanac another read. Five stars!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Genna

    “On far too many Sundays I was pulled from the roaming rhythm and natural worship that truly fulfilled me. A church Sunday meant that God was suddenly confined to something that seemed much less miraculous than the woods and fields where creation was so evident.” Lanham is a gifted storyteller sharing memories rich in detail and heart and offering sage perspective on land ethics, diversity, and race relations in outdoor spaces and wild places. The Home Place is a deeply felt homage to the virtues “On far too many Sundays I was pulled from the roaming rhythm and natural worship that truly fulfilled me. A church Sunday meant that God was suddenly confined to something that seemed much less miraculous than the woods and fields where creation was so evident.” Lanham is a gifted storyteller sharing memories rich in detail and heart and offering sage perspective on land ethics, diversity, and race relations in outdoor spaces and wild places. The Home Place is a deeply felt homage to the virtues of homestead labor, the connections we feel to land, and to the core of anyone who identifies as a “wild-loving seeker”. ”I’ve expanded the walls of my spiritual existence beyond the pews and pulpit to include longleaf savannas, salt marshes, cove forests, and tall-grass prairie. The miracles for me are in migratory journeys and moonlit nights. Swan song is sacred. Nature seems worthy of worship.”

  22. 4 out of 5

    Laura Weldon

    The Home Place is a memoir, a reckoning with history, and a love letter to nature. Reading it, I'm right with the author as he explores, minds his Mamatha, works to please his father, and discovers himself. The writing soars in places, especially in descriptions of wild places. J. Drew Lanham had me with his first three sentences: "I am a man in love with nature. I am an eco-addict, consuming everything that the outdoors offers in its all-you-can-sense, seasonal buffet. I am a wildling, born of f The Home Place is a memoir, a reckoning with history, and a love letter to nature. Reading it, I'm right with the author as he explores, minds his Mamatha, works to please his father, and discovers himself. The writing soars in places, especially in descriptions of wild places. J. Drew Lanham had me with his first three sentences: "I am a man in love with nature. I am an eco-addict, consuming everything that the outdoors offers in its all-you-can-sense, seasonal buffet. I am a wildling, born of forests and fields and more comfortable on unpaved back roads and winding woodland paths than in any place where concrete, asphalt, and crowds prevail."

  23. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    I’ve had this book on my to-read list since September 2017, and after encountering the author on Instagram during Black Birders Week, I moved it to the top of the list (I have an excessively long to-read list so I’m years behind!) This book is gorgeous - full of beautiful writing, memories both bittersweet and lovely, thoughts on being a Black man in America, all woven together with an intense love of nature and all things wild. This was one of those books I tried to take my time with and savor, I’ve had this book on my to-read list since September 2017, and after encountering the author on Instagram during Black Birders Week, I moved it to the top of the list (I have an excessively long to-read list so I’m years behind!) This book is gorgeous - full of beautiful writing, memories both bittersweet and lovely, thoughts on being a Black man in America, all woven together with an intense love of nature and all things wild. This was one of those books I tried to take my time with and savor, but it was impossible as all I wanted to do was read it. I’ll definitely be buying a physical copy to bookmark all the passages I need to read and refer to again.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Anny

    So glad I ended the year on this one. In many ways, the sentiments in Dr. Lanham's memoir were before its time. He wrote a whole chapter about birding while Black before a Christian Cooper was threatened by a white woman while birding in Central Park in 2020, cementing the right to Black joy in natural spaces as a centerpiece in the Black Lives Matter antiracism movement. A lovely read. So glad I ended the year on this one. In many ways, the sentiments in Dr. Lanham's memoir were before its time. He wrote a whole chapter about birding while Black before a Christian Cooper was threatened by a white woman while birding in Central Park in 2020, cementing the right to Black joy in natural spaces as a centerpiece in the Black Lives Matter antiracism movement. A lovely read.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Simone

    I read this because J. Drew Lanham was coming to Lawrence to give a talk. Sadly we ended up leaving town that afternoon and I wasn't able to make it to the talk, which is too bad because I liked this book. It was both meditative and lyrical, and I like the subjects. It also worked for the Book Riot 2018 challenge - read a book about nature. I read this because J. Drew Lanham was coming to Lawrence to give a talk. Sadly we ended up leaving town that afternoon and I wasn't able to make it to the talk, which is too bad because I liked this book. It was both meditative and lyrical, and I like the subjects. It also worked for the Book Riot 2018 challenge - read a book about nature.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    A beautiful meditation on land, nature, and an African-American man’s connections to both.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Melody

    Connections to nature. Roots. Especially birds.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Faith Huff

    This book has lots of layers and all of them are lovely.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Zoe

    This is a really beautiful portrait of a life bound to nature. Essential reading for all lovers of wild things.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    This was an utterly beautiful book. Narrated beautifully by the author. Yes, I used ‘beautiful’ two sentences in a row, but I couldn’t help myself.

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