Big Sur Books

Below are books about Big Sur that we can recommend reading, from famous novels to guides and history.

Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch by Henry Miller

Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch is for any reader who is in the mood for a beguiling rumination on how a man once tried to bring peace into his life. The story, as such, is this: Henry Miller moves to Big Sur, one of the most beautiful places on the planet, and sets out to create a new home infused with energy, creativity, a sense of community, and an appreciation of nature, while at the same time he copes with intrusions and financial pressures and the charisma and creepiness of other people.

Big Sur by Jack Kerouac

Autobiographical novel of the adventures of the wandering beatnik during the summer of 1960. Classic from Jack Kerouac describes the author’s own mental breakdown.

A Wild Coast and Lonely by Rosalind Sharpe Wall

A personal history of Big Sur. Rosalind S. Wall was privileged to grow up on a rancho in Old Big Sur, way at the back of a canyon. Before the coastal Highway 1 was built, the area put a new definition to the word `remote,’ and Wall was one of many who refused to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony opening the highway. Those people recognized that a whole way of life would disappear within a few years, and they were right.
The first half of her book deals with the historical colonial settlers of Mexican, Indian, and American heritages, how those three came together through business, ranching, and intermarriage to form the unique flavor and heritage of this special region. Wild regions tend to attract wild people, and Big Sur has always had its share of `characters.’ It still does. Wall recalls from her own memory many of these people and brings them to life for us.
The second half of the book concerns her own life in Big Sur. A great piece of writing for those who wish to get a sense of the way it used to be down in ‘Big South.’

The Natural History of Big Sur (California Natural History Guides) by Paul Henson

Each year millions of people visit the area of rugged California coastline and wild mountains known as Big Sur. Finally here is a book that is both a natural history of this beautiful region and an excellent guide to its extensive public lands. The first section introduces the area’s geology, climate, flora, fauna, and human history. The second section describes selected sites, trails, and features that are mentioned in Part One. Although Big Sur is world famous for awe-inspiring scenery, it is less known for its great ecological diversity and its significance as a haven for many species of terrestrial and marine wildlife. In no other part of the world do fog-loving coastal redwoods thrive on one slope of a canyon while arid-climate yuccas grow on the other. Similarly, sea otters and cormorants live near dry-climate creatures like canyon wrens and whiptail lizards. The area’s staggering beauty and forbidding wilderness have inspired artists, poets, naturalists, and hikersand also real estate developers. As increasing tourism, development pressure, and land-use decisions continue to affect Big Sur, this book will do much to heighten awareness of the region’s biotic richness and fragility. Written in nontechnical language, with generous color photographs, drawings, maps, species lists, and a bibliography, it will attract both the casual and the serious naturalist, as well as anyone concerned about preserving California’s natural heritage. This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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