Recently I asked a friend, a serious writer and reviewer of books, to recommend some nature writing to me. Stuck in a reading rut where I'd had difficulty finding anything at all* that I wanted to read, I thought I might try something entirely new to me, some "nature writing". He kindly sent round a pile of books and mentioned one or two others that I might like. Nearly all written by men. I gave them a try but really struggled. For the most part I found them unnecessarily wordy, overly romantic, and frequently self indulgent. Mabey, Deakin, Lister-Kaye. (Oh my Lord, can these men go on - where are the women? ) I couldn't get on with any of them, though I'm told I should try again with Waterlog, I loved the first and last chapters of Luke Jennings' Blood Knots, a memoir which told me more than I ever knew about fishing, but it still didn't quite satisfy something I was looking for but could not name.
It seemed that I was at a metaphorical crossroads in a wordy forest ready to give up when I had a joyous discovery. The wondrous Kathleen Jamie. Insightful, quirky, sharp and gentle at the same time. She writes about birds, bones, stones, the sea, the past, the present with such perception and, exceptionally, without a trace of false sentiment. Her description of a sighting, two sightings, of killer whales off the Islands actually gave me goose bumps and her observation on bones, especially whales, is captivating. I cannot recommend her book too highly.
If you are interested in having a copy of Sightlines** and you've left a comment on the any of the Advent Calendar posts by Christmas Eve, I'll put your name in a hat and send the winner a copy. You don't have to do any thing else unless you don't want your name included, though any recommendations for uplifting books are most welcome. Obviously the winner won't receive Sightlines until the end of the year, but what a treat to look
* I fear this may be partly a result of my eyesight! I've started to wear reading glasses, though even they are a pain.
** Liz - this is the book you asked about in the photo of the cats