I don't know what I was expecting from this book, but I wasn't expecting to like it as much as I did. I am usually wary of literary fiction that dwells so much on nature; sometimes these stories feel like they abandon story and human resonances for their description and exultation in unqualified nature. But Doerr didn't have this problem, and I think these stories taught me better how to exist. Most of the stories were thoughtful and intricate, and I found myself getting lost in these meditations. Some of the prose was painfully beautiful, but nothing felt like it was begging for my emotions, demanding my sadness.Doerr's strength in this collection is maintaining his compassion for human characters even as they find themselves in the extremes of nature and the wilderness. Though Doerr could have lifted his attention from people to focus on the grandeur of snowbanks and hibernating animals, he was careful to maintain the complex balance required of presenting humans interacting with nature--growing closer to it, distancing themselves from it, and trying to return to it. The details that Doerr uses are gently precise, able to convey the subtle nuances of people trying to shift and settle into their places in the world, chafing at the discomfort when they grow out of this place.This book made me seriously reconsider my reading taste. I had to think back to better-known books I had read recently, books that I was initially excited about but that grew stale in my memory. The Shell Collector, in contrast, has aged well, has grown itself into my thoughts and composure. Though the stories are not explicitly moral, reading the book was an edifying experience, one that left me a more contemplative and discerning person. I recommend.