The environment may surround us, but when that environment is a natural wonder like Yosemite National Park, it also reaches what’s inside us. For Mark Liebenow, Yosemite did just that, and did so when he needed it most. In Mountains of Light, winner of the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize, Liebenow takes us deep into the heart of this wilderness, introducing us to its grand and subtle marvels—and to the observations, reflections, and insights its scenery evokes. Acting as our guide, Liebenow calls on the spirit and legacy of naturalist John Muir to rediscover nature and recover his own exuberance for life. Whether celebrating the giant sequoias, massive granite mountains, and wild, untamed rivers, or losing himself on an unmarked trail, Liebenow is always accompanied by thoughts of his wife of eighteen years, whose recent and sudden death tempers and informs his journey. Interwoven with his experiences are the stories of the Native Americans who lived in the valley for thousands of years and of the early settlers who followed. Melding documentary with introspection, environmental reportage with a search for meaning, Liebenow’s work draws on the lore of geology, botany, biology, and history to show how each aspect of the environment is connected to the rest. Watch the Mountains of Light book trailer on YouTube.
About the Author
Mark Liebenow has won the Chautauqua Nonfiction Prize, among other awards. His work has been published in such journals as the Colorado Review, the Spoon River PoetryReview, and the Clackamas Literary Review.
“With his poet’s eye and sensibilities, Mark Liebenow leads us through one of the great American wild lands, Yosemite National Park. He also marks out a trail through an even wilder landscape—that of grief in the human heart. . . . The terrain he explores is rough and dramatic, exuberant and awe-inspiring.”—Kelsea Habecker, author of Hollow Out
“This is a book of a hero’s journey—of a journey deep into the wilderness of our hearts among the wild flowing rivers we try to navigate in the face of pain, the glacial movement of recovering from tragic loss. It’s about how when we listen to the gifts of nature we can find deep spiritual power; we can find grace. This is a beautiful book.”—Jeff Knorr, author of Keeper and The Third Body
"An elegant portrayal of retreat, renewal and return to life with an increased respect for one of the nation's most revered natural sites."—Kirkus Reviews
"This is a book that cries out for wide availability. It is a book to be read and re-read. I want to study it for what I expect are many deep connections Mark Liebenow has made as he wrote and re-wrote and edited it. This is a book of uncommon humility, honesty, great insight, and finally, ending again in winter, a book of eternal hope."—Blog Critics Books
"Readers don't have to turn too many pages before they find themselves itching to go to Yosemite."—Amy Lou Jenkins, examiner.com
"With Mountains of Light, Mark Liebenow offers a compelling reminder that the Yosemite remains both actual and symbolic evidence of nature's power to create in humanity a sense of awe and humility, even as civilization appears to many to be intent on hurtling itself into environmental degregation."—James Ballowe, North Dakota Quarterly