Why Pilgrim at Tinker Creek is my favorite book

Whenever I’m asked what my favorite book is, I tend to say Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard—winner of the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction.

It’s a book I originally read my senior year of high school. (I’m pretty sure I was 1 of 2 people in my AP Language class of 30 who actually liked it.)

And, over the years, I have grown to like this book even more. Annie Dillard’s beautiful prose augments a romantic yet realistic view of nature that has become more lucid with each re-read.

In particular, the following paragraph dropped my jaw to the floor earlier this evening, and I still haven’t been able to pick it back up:

“Nature is, above all, profligate. Don’t believe them when they tell you how economical and thrifty nature is, whose leaves return to the soil. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to leave them on the tree in the first place? This deciduous business alone is a radical scheme, the brainchild of a deranged manic-depressive with limitless capital. Extravagance! Nature will try anything once. This is what the sign of the insects says. No form is too gruesome, no behavior too grotesque. If you’re dealing with organic compounds, then let them combine. If it works, if it quickens, set it clacking in the grass; there’s always room for one more; you ain’t so handsome yourself. This is a spendthrift economy; though nothing is lost, all is spent.”

p. 66