Books · Read in 2022 · Reviews

(audio) Book Thoughts: Wildwood (Roger Deakin)

This is a very “me” kind of book

★★★★★★★

Title: Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees
Author: Roger Deakin
Narrator: 
Roy McMillan
Genre:
 Non-Fiction / Nature / Travel / Memoir
First published: 2007
Edition: Paperback, published by Penguin in 2008

From the walnut tree at his Suffolk home, Roger Deakin embarks upon a quest that takes him through Britain, across Europe, to Central Asia and Australia, in search of what lies behind man’s profound and enduring connection with wood and with trees. Meeting woodlanders of all kinds, he lives in shacks and cabins, builds hazel benders, and hunts bush-plums with aboriginal women.At once autobiography, history, a traveller’s tale and a work of natural history, Wildwood is a lyrical and fiercely intimate evocation of the spirit of trees: in nature, in our souls, in our culture, and in our lives.

🌳🌲🌳

I love books like this: non-fiction that combine nature, travel and memories. This definitely reads a travel memoir, but with an emphasis on trees, which is the reason Deakin travelled to these places in the first place.

I thoroughly enjoyed following the author on his journeys. Narrator Roy McMillan does a great job bringing the sights and sounds to life as well. I loved learning about various species of trees and what meaning they held or still hold for the people who live with them. The tone of the narrative was perfect for me and I loved how it sometimes meandered.

My favourite part of this book were the chapters about Australia. I spent a year in Australia in my early twenties and I absolutely fell in love with the landscapes there. Every time I read about Australia, it brings back a sense of nostalgia and beautiful memories. It made me realise I should seek out some more non-fiction books that deal with the history and nature of Australia.

I also enjoyed the chapters on walnut trees in Kyrgyzstan and reading about the people the author met along the way. I am starting to expect there will be more travel memoirs in my future!

I found this book so relaxing and enjoyable. I have already ordered another book by this author. He has written a few, but unfortunately he passed away in 2006. This sat on my shelves for four years and I wish I had read it sooner!

If you enjoy nature and a meandering memoir type stories, you will love this.

7 out of 7 stars

Books · Read in 2022 · Reviews

(audio) Book Thoughts: The Seabird’s Cry (Adam Nicolson)

The Lives and Loves of Puffins, Gannets and Other Ocean Voyagers

★★★★★★☆

Title: The Seabird’s Cry
Author: Adam Nicolson Narrator: Dugold Bruce-Lockhart
Genre: Non-Fiction / Natural World
First published: 2017
Edition: Audio & paperback, published by William Collins in 2018

In ten chapters, each dedicated to a different bird, and each beautifully illustrated by Kate Boxer, The Seabird’s Cry travels their ocean paths, fusing traditional knowledge with all that modern science has come to know about them: the way their bodies work, their dazzling navigational expertise, their ability to smell their way to fish or home, to understand the workings of the winds in which they live.

***

When I read or listen to a book about nature I always realise how much I love reading and learning about the natural world. I am always reminded that I don’t read enough books about all the incredible creatures that inhabit this earth.

This book focused on birds that make our great oceans their home. It looks at their lives and the state of their survival in our changing world. I learned so much about these incredible birds.

Listening to the audio book was the right choice I think. The narrator does an amazing job and I felt like I was listening to a wildlife documentary. I did have the paperback on hand, so after every listening session I would flick back to look at the pictures and charts that were included within the pages.

Overall, this was a wonderful experience and reminded me how enjoyable a good book about wildlife can be. I would highly recommend this one if you like the sound of cute puffins and the incredible albatross.

6 out of 7 stars

Books · Read in 2022 · Reviews

Book Thoughts: The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating (Elisabeth Tova Bailey)

a perfect little exploration of life, both snail and human

★★★★★★★

Title: The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating
Author: Elisabeth Tova Bailey (USA)
Genre: Non-Fiction / Memoir / Nature
First published: 2010
Edition: Hardback, published by Titan in 2020

While an illness keeps her bedridden, Bailey watches a wild snail that has taken up residence on her nightstand. As a result, she discovers the solace and sense of wonder that this mysterious creature brings and comes to a greater under standing of her own confined place in the world. Intrigued by the snail’s molluscan anatomy, cryptic defenses, clear decision making, hydraulic locomotion, and mysterious courtship activities, Bailey becomes an astute and amused observer, providing a candid and engaging look into the curious life of this underappreciated small animal. 

🐌🐌🐌

Sometimes a book calls you and only afterwards you can see that now was the perfect time to read it. I love this little book with all my heart for being there in a time of extreme stress.

This is a quiet memoir, of a bedbound woman, and her unexpected snail companion. I love the way the author weaves her observations of her snail with research into snail life and ties it to her own situation. It’s beautifully written and it brought me an incredible sense of peace.

I have never read any books about snails. Birds, yes, mammals, yes, but never snails. I thought it was a fascinating subject and I learned a lot of tidbits along the way.

This is a small book, but in my opinion it’s an absolute gem. So, so beautiful. I loved it so much and I will treasure it. If you enjoy quiet books about nature, I have no doubt you will love this too.

7 out of 7 stars

Books · Read in 2021 · Reviews

Book Thoughts: A Sweet, Wild Note (Richard Smyth)

A celebration and a warning, written with love

★★★★★★☆

Title: A Sweet, Wild Note: What we hear when birds sing
Author: Richard Smyth
Genre: Non-Fiction / Natural World
First published: 2017
Edition: Hardback, published in 2017

Birdsong is woven into our culture, our emotions, our landscape; it is the soundtrack to our world. We have tried to capture this fleeting, ephemeral beauty, and the feelings it inspires, for millennia.
In this fascinating account, Richard Smyth asks what it is about birdsong that we so love. Exploring the myriad ways in which it has influenced literature, music, science and our very ideas of what it means to be British, Smyth’s nuanced investigation shows that what we hear says as much about us, our dreams and desires, as it does about the birds and their songs.

🎵🎶🎵🎶🎵

This book had been lingering on my shelf since I bought it back in the year it came out. The subject matter sounded interesting to me, but I just never picked it up to read. Of course, now I have and I am glad I did.

This was a both a joyous read and a sad one. Joyous, because it pulled my attention to the birdsong that sounds all the time where I live, deep in the Dutch countryside. But sad, as birdsong is not as prevalent as it once was.

The author explores birdsong through tidbits of science, literature, and his own musings and experiences. Because of that, it never felt too heavy or serious and it felt like a work of love instead. There was an philosophical element to this book and I actually really enjoyed that. It did make me smile in places too, which is always a bonus!

At under 200 pages this is not a long book, but what those pages hold was enough to keep me interested without getting bored at any point.

If you enjoy nature and are not expecting a scientific textbook, but rather a celebration of that most nostalgic of sounds that nature provides us with, I have no doubt you would enjoy this.

6 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Dark Banquet (Bill Schutt)

Schutt, Bill - Dark Banquet

★★★★★☆☆

Title: Dark Banquet
Author: Bill Schutt
Genre: Non-Fiction / Natural History  Pages: 293
First published: 2008
Edition: Paperback, published in 2008 by Three Rivers Press

In Dark Banquet, zoologist Bill Schutt takes us on a fascinating voyage into the world of some of nature’s strangest creatures – the sanguivores. 

I thought a book about blood-feeding creatures would be the perfect Halloween non-fiction read and it sort of was!

I definitely have an affinity for bats and the fact that this book was partly about vampire bats was a big reason I read it. This is also the animal that Bill Schutt specialises in.  I absolutely loved the chapters about these interesting misunderstood creatures. I also enjoyed learning about blood and its medical history.

The chapters about bed bugs and other creatures were less interesting to me, but overall Bill Schutt has a great writing style and a wonderful sense of humour, which made reading this book kind of fun. Dark Banquet was informative, but not dry (for the most part).

If you like natural history books that are a bit different, you may like this one. I would definitely recommend it.

5 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: The Otters’ Tale (Simon Cooper)

Cooper, Simon - The Otter's Tale

★★★★★★☆

Title: The Otters’ Tale
Author: Simon Cooper
Genre: Non-Fiction /Part-Fiction / Natural World
First published: 2017
Edition: Hardcover, published in 2017 by William Collins

This was such a delightful read. Beforehand, I knew the author wrote it about the otters that live around the river by his Mill home, but that was all.

The book starts out with a fictional account of the otter Kuschta being abandoned by her mother and going in search of her own territory. The story goes on from there.

I love how fact and fiction are interwoven in this beautifully and realistically written book. The author has a way of describing the riverside and landscape throughout the seasons with all that lives and grows on it that brings it alive for me. I could see the river through the seasons, the plants, the animals, the sights and sounds.

Descriptions of otter behaviour delight, shock and surprise and I love how the otters depicted do stay true to their animal nature.

It truly is a wonderful way of telling the story of the otter’s story from birth to adulthood and the trials and tribulations that come with that.

I am still not quite sure whether to class this as fiction or non-fiction. It is a bit of both and I love it. If you are interested in the natural world, this is a gorgeous book and I would thoroughly recommend it.

6 out of 7 stars