About John E. Riutta

John in Victoria recroppedFor as long as I can remember I have loved books; for nearly as long I have loved learning about the myriad wonders of nature as well. I tried to make a living teaching  people about the many marvelous things to be found in the former only to find myself for over a decade developing binoculars and spotting scopes that could help them to appreciate the latter. Now, well past the proverbial midpoint of my life with the straight path thoroughly lost and no Virgil in sight, I write – preferably about my two favorite subjects: books and natural history.

I have a history of doing things not because they are popular nor because they seem likely to be successful; I tend to do things because I see a need for them to be done and little likelihood of anyone else taking to trouble to do them. When I was a product development manager for Leupold, I saw that no one was paying attention to the need for there to a be a quality all-around binocular that could comfortably be used by both children as well as adults for a wide range of activities and that would be affordable enough for families to acquire more than one if desired; thus the original Leupold Yosemite binocular came to be.

JER at Multnomah Falls 400hSuch it was with The Well-read Naturalist. Hundreds of carefully researched, well-written, and fascinating books of natural history were being published each year but few were being reviewed widely enough for them to find their audience; hence I established a publication dedicated to reviewing as many of them as possible to help guide as many people who might be interested in what they contain to them.

Needless to say, I’m an avid naturalist with particular interests in birds, moths, bryophytes, and fish; interests I have pursued throughout North and Central America, Europe, and Asia. I am also a keen student of the history of natural history, firmly believing that an understanding of how we have come to know what we do know is an important part of making new discoveries ourselves.

Of course, my interests are not limited solely to natural history subjects. The “well-read” portion of The Well-read Naturalist has its origins not only in a history of reading widely on that topic. My early university studies, and subsequent undergraduate degree, developed in me a love of English and American literature – particularly from the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. I am also keenly interested in early Twentieth Century literary criticism as well as intellectual and religious history. Outside of books, I consider myself a reasonably good cook, a connoisseur of sushi, a rusty but competent sketch artist, and a passionate enthusiast of the ballet, the opera, and most orchestral music (with a developing fascination for, God help me, the music of Wagner).