The Sun Is a Compass

By Caroline Van Hemert,

Book cover of The Sun Is a Compass: A 4,000-Mile Journey Into the Alaskan Wilds

Book description

During graduate school, as she conducted experiments on the peculiarly misshapen beaks of chickadees, ornithologist Caroline Van Hemert began to feel stifled in the isolated, sterile environment of the lab. Worried that she was losing her passion for the scientific research she once loved, she was compelled to experience wildness…

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Why read it?

3 authors picked The Sun Is a Compass as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I love this amazing adventure memoir because Van Hermert is much more courageous than I. As she and her husband row, trek, ski, and canoe 4,000 miles across Alaska, I get to come along for the ride without breaking a sweat. 

Van Hemert, who studied birds, uses the birds she observes as metaphors for what she is feeling, and this increases the depth of her writing. She and her husband take this journey before having children, and I like comparing it to my husband and my journey after our kids had flown the nest. I highly recommend this well-written wild…

From Kathy's list on strong women walking.

Undertaking an epic, 4,000-mile journey by rowboat, foot, skis, and raft, ornithologist Caroline Van Hemert and her husband trek from Bellingham, Washington, to Kotzebue, Alaska, via the Inside Passage, the Yukon, the Arctic coast, and the Brooks Range.

Their adventure is beautifully described in Van Hemert’s memoir, The Sun Is a Compass, both a coming-of-age journey and gripping search for answers to life’s big questions. Although I’ll never undertake a pilgrimage of this magnitude, I loved reading Van Hemert’s book.

This book combines the author's love of nature with adventure. Ornithologist Caroline van Hemert takes a 4,000-mile journey into the Alaskan Wilds and it is both a story of deep immersion into the wild and a story of challenging yourself. Biology is focused on the wonder and complexity of life and what I love about this book is that it celebrates the beauty of the natural world. The author does this through immersion into nature and by deciphering it. Through her intense personal nature contact, she yields unexpected surprises that enhance the beauty of the world. 

Biology can be mentally…

From Bernd's list on nature and the study of life.

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