Things That Are [NOOK Book]


The debut collection of a writer whose accolades precede her: a Whiting Award, a Rona Jaffe Award, a Best American Essays selection, and a Pushcart Prize, all received before her first book-length publication. This book represents a major break-out of an entirely new brand of nonfiction writer, in a mode like that of Ander Monson, John D'Agata, and Eula Biss, but a new sort of beast entirely its own.

Things That Are takes jellyfish, fainting ...
See more details below
Things That Are

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$9.99 price
(Save 44%)$18.00 List Price


The debut collection of a writer whose accolades precede her: a Whiting Award, a Rona Jaffe Award, a Best American Essays selection, and a Pushcart Prize, all received before her first book-length publication. This book represents a major break-out of an entirely new brand of nonfiction writer, in a mode like that of Ander Monson, John D'Agata, and Eula Biss, but a new sort of beast entirely its own.

Things That Are takes jellyfish, fainting goats, and imperturbable caterpillars as just a few of its many inspirations. In a series of essays that progress from the tiniest earth dwellers to the most far flung celestial bodies—considering the similarity of gods to donkeys, the inexorability of love and vines, the relations of exploding stars to exploding sea cucumbers—Amy Leach rekindles a vital communion with the wild world, dormant for far too long. Things That Are is not specifically of the animal, the human, or the phenomenal; it is a book of wonder, one the reader cannot help but leave with their perceptions both expanded and confounded in delightful ways.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In her first book, illustrated by Nate Christopherson, Whiting Award–winner Leach has produced a collection of creative nonfiction essays that unfortunately comes across as twee. The recipe: animate inanimate objects, personify animals, add a dash of hypothetical wonder, throw in hard facts, end your essay with a question, and presume connections between the tangible and ephemeral. Repeat. While Leach is able to create moments of verbal delight (“Who can twig the intricated soul of the pirouetting bird?”), her forays into pop philosophy prove less effective: “But... who... who... does not miss everything?” Essays such as “Warbler Delight” are more successful, especially when Leach’s sense of wonder matches the small feats of the subject. However, other diatribes of delight border on the obvious and insubstantial. Allowing for too many authorial indulgences, Leach’s extreme individuality veers into inscrutability. B&w illus. Agent: Jin Auh, the Wylie Agency. (July)
From the Publisher


"Sheer scrambling delight." —Lawrence Weschler

“One of the most exciting and original writers in America.” —Yiyun Li

"Loopy, mad-hatterish, infernally addictive writing that makes you sneeze." —David Abram

"You need this book." —Seth Marko, UCSD Bookstore

"I haven’t seen such imagination and magical use of language in nature writing since I first read Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek." —Dale Szczeblowski, Porter Square Books

"If you love words and the natural world, Amy Leach will lead you through the world with new eyes." —Jeanne Costello, Maria's Bookshop

"Sparkling, priceless.” —Stacie Williams, Boswell Book Company

“This is just the book to tuck into a backpack for a thoughtful read under open skies, or for curling up with while sitting on the deck.” —Kristine Kaufman, Snow Goose Bookstore

"Words of wisdom....Ms. Leach humanizes and elevates." —

"[Leach] amuses, and amazes." —The Guardian

"A rarity.” —Financial Times

"Magical." —Washington Independent Review of Books

"My new favorite author." —St. Paul Pioneer Press

"Beautiful, graceful essays…. It's science made into poetry." —Missoula Independent

"Reminiscent of Diane Ackerman's [essays], with a bit more fizz." —Minneapolis StarTribune

"Whimsical and enchanting." —New Letters

"Leach's expositions take on a mythic tone likened to a fairy tale or a bedtime story." —

"This is a bonbon of a book." —Kirkus

“Verbal delight.” —Publishers Weekly

"The living world has a new and sprightly champion in Leach, winner of a Whiting Writers’ Award and a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award. In her first collection of essays, gracefully illustrated by Nate Christopherson in the mode of Barry Moser and Rockwell Kent, Leach is nimble, precise, dynamic, witty, and metaphysical. She writes of wondrously adaptive goats, penguins enduring blizzards to protect what may well be a stone instead of an egg, and tiny warblers who travel thousands of miles. Leach discerns the pea plant’s ‘yearning’ for connection as it sends out its searching tendrils and compares bamboodependent pandas to penitents. In her heady and astute approach to natural history, her disarming concoctions of science and fancy, she is part Diane Ackerman, part Margaret Atwood. Also a bluegrass musician, she writes delectably rhythmic, singing sentences. Here be dragons, water lilies, jellyfish, and spiritual quests. Leach looks to the heavens, too, considering with high imagination the forces that shape stars and galaxies. Even as she fashions a bit of bluesy satire to decry our abuse of nature, Leach is ecstatic in her knowledgeable, resplendent, and exhilarating contemplations of everything from subatomic particles to dust, Spinoza, donkeys, and caterpillars." —Booklist (STARRED REVIEW)

Kirkus Reviews
Quirky, poetic essays about elements of the natural world. This debut collection by Leach, winner of a Whiting Writers' Award and a Pushcart Prize, explores fantastical and curious subjects pertaining to natural phenomena. Her slim volume is divided into two sections--"Things of Earth" and "Things of Heaven"--containing essays with names such as "Goats, and Bygone Goats," "When Trees Dream of Being Trees" and "Sail On, My Little Honeybee." Each of the essays range from three to seven pages, and they are accompanied by beautiful, original pen-and-ink drawings by Christopherson. Leach's writing, though cerebral, displays her enormous imagination and attention to detail as she poses and attempts to answer such varied questions as how to transport a wave, or considers the upside of life as a goat. The opening line of "Please Do Not Yell at the Sea Cucumber" demonstrates her direct and casual, slyly funny tone: "One nice thing about having bones is that you don't get rerouted every time you run into something." The author's appreciation for absurdity and the joys of wildlife infuses her pieces with a childlike suspension of disbelief; her descriptions strike a balance between imagination and science, with dashes of magical realism, and some of her wording is far more similar to poetry than prose. The work as a whole, despite its occasional similarities to essays by Thoreau, likely won't appeal to many general readers, but for those interested in looking at the natural world through the lens of a fairy tale, this is a bonbon of a book.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781571318640
  • Publisher: Milkweed Editions
  • Publication date: 7/3/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 1,430,647
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Since receiving her MFA from the University of Iowa in 2005, Amy Leach has been recognized with the Whiting Writers’ Award (2010), a Best American Essays selection (2009), a Rona Jaffe Foundation Award (2008), and a 2011 Pushcart Prize. Her essays have appeared in numerous literary journals and reviews, including Tin House, Orion Magazine, A Public Space, and Los Angeles Review. She lives in Chicago, where she plays the piano, performs in a bluegrass band, and teaches writing at Loyola and Northwestern Universities.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 1 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 1, 2013

    Amy Leach is a wonderful and very unique writer. Her book, Thing

    Amy Leach is a wonderful and very unique writer. Her book, Things That Are, is a must read that is extremely hard to put down. I love her use of animals in her book. She takes animals like panda bears, beavers, and goats and explains their behaviors on a very deep and comical level. To me, at first she sounds like the nonsense thoughts that I have right before I go to sleep. But then, after you read more and think more about her words, you see the genius and the research needed to write her essays. I really liked her essay, “Radical Bears and the Forest Delicious”. It is about panda bears and their addiction to bamboo. She compares them to monks who leave their lives of having the finer things to a more humble life. She says that panda bears must have been told to find enlightenment; they have to give up their life of eating tasting things and only eat tough bamboo. Her words that she uses and the things she says are hilarious and paint a picture in your head. I also enjoyed her essay, “Goats and Bygone Goats”. In it she talks about early explorers and how they would drop goats off on different islands they would find and then the goats would eat all of the food and cause the turtles that used to live on the island to die of starvation. She then talks about introducing predators to eat the goats and the predators to eat the predators and how the circle would continue. The way she describes it is hilarious. Overall it is a hilarious book that I would recommend to anyone.  

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)