A Psalm for the Wild-Built

Title: A Psalm for the Wild-Built

Author: Becky Chambers

Completed: June 2022 (Full list of books)

Overview: I typically read one fiction book each year. I have no real reason for this other than I noticed a few years ago that it seemed to be a pattern so I decided to make it an informal rule for myself. After reading the Three Body Problem trilogy over the last several years, I didn’t have any fiction books jumping out at me. Not sure where I found this but really enjoyed it. It’s a fast read and had a similar futuristic-environmentalist feel of Ecotopia. I also don’t usually take notes in fiction books, but I felt this one had a few really good lines. The second book in this series comes out next month and I think it will be my first read of 2023.


  • Sometimes, a person reaches a point in their life when it becomes absolutely essential to get the fuck out of the city.
  • all of it could be boiled down to listen to people, give tea.
  • The whole reason they never went into those fields before is because they were afraid. They lived under constant fear of a wild dog jumping out and eating them or their young at any moment. That is an awful way to live. It must have been such a relief to be free of predators and eat whatever the hell you wanted. But that was the exact opposite of what the ecosystem needed. The ecosystem required the elk to be afraid in order to stay in balance. But elk don’t want to be afraid. Fear is miserable, as is pain. As is hunger. Every animal is hardwired to do absolutely anything to stop those feelings as fast as possible. We’re all just trying to be comfortable, and well fed, and unafraid. It wasn’t the elk’s fault. The elk just wanted to relax.”
  • “So, the paradox is that the ecosystem as a whole needs its participants to act with restraint in order to avoid collapse, but the participants themselves have no inbuilt mechanism to encourage such behavior.” “Other than fear.” “Other than fear, which is a feeling you want to avoid or stop at all costs.”
  • It is difficult for anyone born and raised in human infrastructure to truly internalize the fact that your view of the world is backward. Even if you fully know that you live in a natural world that existed before you and will continue long after, even if you know that the wilderness is the default state of things, and that nature is not something that only happens in carefully curated enclaves between towns, something that pops up in empty spaces if you ignore them for a while, even if you spend your whole life believing yourself to be deeply in touch with the ebb and flow, the cycle, the ecosystem as it actually is, you will still have trouble picturing an untouched world. You will still struggle to understand that human constructs are carved out and overlaid, that these are the places that are the in-between, not the other way around.
  • “‘Without constructs, you will unravel few mysteries. Without knowledge of the mysteries, your constructs will fail. These pursuits are what make us, but without comfort, you will lack the strength to sustain either.’”
  • the Child Gods aren’t actively involved in our lives. They’re … not like that. They can’t break the Parent Gods’ laws. They provide inspiration, not intervention. If we want change, or good fortune, or solace, we have to create it for ourselves.
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