Kathleen Meyer

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Kathleen Meyer
OccupationOutdoor writer, environmental writer
Period1989 -
Genrenon-fiction; memoir
Notable worksHow To Shit in the Woods (1989)
Barefoot Hearted (1994)
PartnerPatrick McCarron

Kathleen Meyer (born 7 December 1942) is a contemporary American outdoor writer[1] whose first work, How To Shit in the Woods was published in 1989. Her writing is characterized by the use of humor and irreverence. She has two published works in print: her warmly welcomed outdoor guide How to Shit in the Woods: An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art and her Wild West memoir Barefoot Hearted: A Wild Life Among Wildlife.

How to Shit in Woods[edit]

The fourth edition of How to Shit in the Woods with a foreword by Bill McKibben will be in stores on March 3, 2020. The first edition of the guidebook was published by Ten Speed Press in 1989. It does, indeed, revolve around the many strategies Meyers has noticed for defecating where there is no modern toilet and running water. As one reads the book, it quickly becomes obvious that Meyer's concern is not only for the comfort of the camper or hiker, but for the impact that human waste leaves on pristine natural ecosystems. She talks about digging "environmentally sound" holes, locating the high water line, so as not to inadvertently pollute a stream or ground water source, and what types of soil facilitate quickest decomposition without risk of environmental contamination. The damage to humans and wildlife from carelessly disposed human waste comes in many forms including giardia, diarrhea, and intestinal diseases.[2] A second edition of the book was issued in 1994 and a third edition in 2011.[3] Meyer holds humans uniquely responsible for the spread of giardia in the wilderness areas of the United States: "Until 1970, there were no reports in the United States of waterborne outbreaks of giardia. The first . . . occurred in Aspen, Colorado, in 1970. Over the next four years, many cases were documented in travelers returning from . . . Leningrad . . . The Soviet Union became more open to visitation by Westerners at about this time and Leningrad's municipal water supply was full of Giardia cysts."[4]

In its various editions, the book has been reviewed by Audubon Magazine,[5] The New Zealand Dominion Post,[Lexis Nexis 1] and The Globe and Mail[Lexis Nexis 2] Audubon magazine writer Frank Graham wrote “Kathleen Meyer has contributed to environmental awareness while lending a grand old English word the respectability it hasn’t had since Chaucer’s day.”[6]


In Barefoot-Hearted, published by Random House in 2001, Meyer writes about renovating a dilapidated barn in which to live with her life mate. Her book explores the many adversities of trying to live in a barn, not the least of which is how the smell of resident skunks under the floor permeates and resides in her clothes and hair and how the barn is infested with flies and mice. In the manner of nature writers who often use a small animal or plant as a symbol of an ecological principle, Meyer explains that she doesn't feel guilty about trapping and killing mice, because they are abundant and their population ever growing. By contrast, she notes the comparative frailty of bears who often stumble upon human habitations looking for food. After contact with humans, a bear is often trapped and removed or euthanized. In the same book, Meyer also chronicles her and Patrick’s adventures driving a team and wagon across three Rocky Mountain states. The book was reviewed by Publishers Weekly.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Meyer lives in western Montana.


  1. ^ Books by Kathleen Meyer. Amazon.com. https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B000APBWUC
  2. ^ Meyer, Kathleen (1989). How to shit in the woods : an environmentally sound approach to a lost art. Berkeley, Calif.: Ten Speed Press. ISBN 0-89815-319-0.
  3. ^ Meyer, Kathleen (1994). How to shit in the woods : an environmentally sound approach to a lost art (2nd ed. rev. ed.). Berkeley, Calif.: Ten Speed Press. ISBN 978-0-89815-627-0.
  4. ^ Meyer, Kathleen (1989). How to shit in the woods : an environmentally sound approach to a lost art. Berkeley, Calif.: Ten Speed Press. p. 21. ISBN 0-89815-319-0.
  5. ^ Meyer, Kathleen (2011). "How to Shit in the Woods" editorial reviews. website. ISBN 978-1580083638.
  6. ^ "Editorial Reviews--How to Shit in the Woods, 3rd edition". web page. Retrieved 30 September 2011.
  7. ^ "Editorial Reviews". website. Retrieved 26 September 2011.

Notes retrieved through Lexis Nexis[edit]

  1. ^ McCurdy, Diana (January 18, 2003). "Nature Calls". The Dominion Post (Wellington).
  2. ^ Trillin, Calvin (15 June 2002). "Summertime, but the reading isn't always easy". The Globe and Mail.

Official site[edit]