Rural Hours (formerly Wood River Books) specializes in ecology, natural history, nature and science writing, the environment, ecopoetics, contemporary essay, and literary journalism, with a special passion for association copies and notable inscriptions. Here on the site, we aspire to a museum-like experience and strive to present only the most interesting books we can find, with detailed descriptions and storytelling.
Our name is an homage to Susan Fenimore Cooper's book Rural Hours (1850), considered the first work of environmental nonfiction by an American woman. The daughter of James Fenimore Cooper, Susan Cooper was also an accomplished watercolorist, and her birds from Rural Hours populate these pages. Her rendering of a "chimney swallow" (now known as a swift) serves as our logo and mascot: sleek and elevated, part sky and part city street.
Rural Hours is mainly a project of writer and professor Nick Neely. Along with a pair of MFA degrees in nonfiction and poetry, Nick has a Master's in Literature and Environment from the University of Nevada, Reno. He has much expertise and years of experience in the field of eco-writing. His first book, Coast Range, was a finalist for John Burroughs Medal for nature writing and his second book, Alta California--about a 12-week trek he made along the California coast--was a Los Angeles Times bestseller. Check out the "Rambles" page for eventual short essays from him on environmental lit, new books, and more.
Rural Hours is a young venture, but we aspire to be among the leaders in the field of rare and interesting eco-writing. We believe, emphatically, that environmental literature and its preservation is in the service of the preservation of the world. In addition to helping serious collectors and institutions build their libraries and archives, our goal is to curate a substantial "house collection" of environmental writing for public display on this site and beyond, one that shows the evolution of the genre(s). That will be a perennial work in progress. We hope to draw a deep, explorable map of environmental writing that traces the lineage and connections between authors and artists determined to render and protect the earth, locally and globally. At the same time, we would like to challenge the usual contours of the "environmental literature" canon and promote a more diverse and inclusive array of voices; in that way, our longterm goal is to excavate the past and curate toward the future.
Rural Hours also hopes to eventually have an open shop and gallery space, but for now we are only online. You've come to the right the place. Enjoy poking around, and then head out for a walk.
Sell to Us
Rural Hours is just emerging and is hungry for unique and fascinating material. For really interesting books, we are likely to offer the best prices you'll receive anywhere. If you have books or a collection in our field, please reach out. You can get a strong sense for what we're after just by browsing around the site for a moment. We are interested in individual books as well as focused libraries or archives. We are particularly interested in "association copies"--books from an author's library, for example, or inscribed from one writer to another--and/or books with "laid in" materials: letters, ephemera, publicity materials, etc. We like to be surprised.
A Few Additional Notes
We are working to add photos to the site. If there's any item you'd like to see photos of, please send us a note.
We aspire to announce New Arrivals and update the Monthly Sale page simultaneously on the 15th of every month. The Monthly Sale includes items discounted 30 to 50 perecnt. Please sign up for new arrival notifications to receive these announcements.
The "House Collection" is still very much getting up to speed. Please check back.