Books to read before visiting Big Sur.

Buying from us supports our mission to educate and inform about Big Sur and its cultural and natural history.

Reading about Big Sur prior to coming here will probably make your visit a lot more interesting and meaningful.

Sit down at a turnout with a view of the Pacific ocean, read a section of Miller’s Big Sur book or a poem by Robinson Jeffers: You may just create a memory for life.

The books you buy from us will be stamped and embossed with our beautiful stamp (see above) and embosser.

The list below include seven of our sincere recommendations! We made them in the hope and belief that by reading all, or some, of them you will have a better experience when you come for a visit. Just click on the title and you’ll end up in the shopping cart! Easy! And it is soon Christmas! 

Click on the book title to order!


Big Sur: The Making of a Prized California Landscape.

by Shelley Alden Brooks, UC Press
The cover prize is $29.95 but we sell it to you for $25.00.

Anyone who cares about Big Sur should read this!

Why aren’t there more houses, turn-lanes, billboards, hotels, lights on at night, walkways down to the beaches, parking lots, interpretive signs, traffic lights, bathrooms, etc. in Big Sur? How likely are these developments in the future? And how does Big Sur’s experience compare to that of other prime California destinations?

Read this excellent book and find the answer to some of these questions.
This is by far the best book on the history of Big Sur as it relates to its land use and conservation/preservation challenges.

HIGHLY recommended!

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The Natural History of Big Sur

by Paul Henson and Don Usner
UC Press $36.95

Each year millions of people come down coast for a visit to Big Sur. Here is a book that is both a natural history of this amazing 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 hikers—and 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.

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“These Are My Flowers”
by Nancy Hopkins, edited by Heidi Hopkins
Very recently issued in a beautiful paperback edition. $19.95

Nancy Hopkins’ letters are honest, funny, insightful and informative: One gets a wonderful sense of life on the Big Sur coast in the forties and fifties.

Most of what Nancy talks of in her letters is her beloved family but also the neighbors on Partington, including Henry Miller.

A gorgeous production filled with notes and one of a kind observations by the editor, and Nancy’s daughter, Heidi Hopkins.

Hard to imagine a better book to curl up with by the fireplace at Deetjen’s one windy winter night!

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The Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch
New Directions Publishers $18.95

For us this is one of the most enjoyable of Henry Miller’s books; first published in 1957, it tells the story of Miller’s life here in Big Sur.

A portrait of the place and of some of the extraordinary people Miller knew here: writers (and writers who didn’t write), mystics seeking truth in meditation (and the not-so-saintly looking for sex-cults or celebrity), sophisticated children and adult innocents; geniuses,

cranks and the unclassifiable. Like the folks nowadays!

Miller writes brimming with an energy that is infectious. He has a fine touch for comedy. But this is also a serious book the testament of a free spirit who has broken through the restraints and cliches of modern life to find within himself his own kind of paradise. As it turns out however not a Paradise without some Trouble!


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Images of America: Big Sur
Arcadia Press, $19.99

This is a recommendation that makes us feel we’re doing GOOD work. The book is written by Jeff Norman who died too young and that many in Big Sur are missing very much. Jeff was deeply committed to his community and to the pursuit of knowledge of both the cultural and natural history of this remarkable place. If you were lucky to run into Jeff, let’s say at the Post Office, and he was in a mood to share (which was not all the time!) you were in for a treat. Reading this book, and looking at the photos, will likely give you a sense of how much home can mean to someone and, if you are lucky, inspire you to rekindle the love of your own home. (-:

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Recipes For Living in Big Sur

Published by the Big Sur Historical Society $14.95

In the winter of 1980-81, six Big Sur women were inspired to create a fund that would sustain the fledgling Big Sur Historical Society in its work of preserving local history. Come January, the call went out to the Big Sur community asking for favorite recipes as well as for diaries, memoirs, photographs, legends and stories of life in Big Sur. The recipes came pouring in as folks searched through photograph albums and old recipe files. By April there was enough material for several books. A pattern finally emerged from the diary excerpts and reminiscences: six overlapping categories evolved into chapter headings: Living Off the Land, Food from the Sea, Self-Sufficiency, The Simple Life, Starting from Scratch and Big Sur Hospitality.

The material was selected to express the diversity of life styles that found room to exist in Big Sur. The reader will discover that this is not an ordinary cookbook. Some of the recipes are vague about amounts or ingredients, reflecting the awareness that creative cooks use what they’ve got on hand. A few of the recipes are artifacts, included to offer a flavor of life as it used to be in Big Sur. Most of the recipes have been taste tested, and the result is a unique blend of history and recipes, expressive of the art of living as practiced in Big Sur. Soft cover, 156 pages, published in 1981. Lovingly compiled by the women of the Big Sur Historical Society: Pat Addelman, Judith Goodman, Mary Harrington, Clair Chappellet, Ruth Harlan, and Beverly Newell.

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Selected Poems by Robinson Jeffers

Vintage $12.00

In this volume, essential poems selected from Jeffers major works provide an excellent overview of his style and the themes present throughout his work. Drawn from volumes published throughout his career, among them Be Angry at the SunHungerfieldThe Double AxeRoan StallionTamar and Other Poems; as well as The Beginning and the End, which contains his last poems, these poems will introduce new readers to his inimitable voice, while also gathering in one place some of his best work for his confirmed fans. Robinson Jeffers was a controversial poet.

NB. If you visit Jeffers home, The Tor House, in Carmel you may be lucky and get former President of The Henry Miller Library Board, Elliot Ruchowitz-Roberts as your docent!


*(going to the post office, often ending up in conversation with Andrew or Eric (the Post Office staff), and neighbors until the day is gone…)

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