The AHRC Favourite Nature Books project closes its nominations at the end of November. I made a nomination in the end, but with a very heavy heart: it felt like taking one book and saying goodbye to the others. I am wary of lists, as I’ve said before, back in April. However, I do feel I want to record some of the books I considered, a sort of cheat list of ten books I have thought about as contenders for my “favourite.”
- Rob and Jackie’s The Lost Words
- Roger Deakin Wildwood
- Caspar Henderson The Book of Barely Imagined Beings
- Oliver Rackham’s Woodlands
- Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts Edgelands
- Philip Hoare The Sea Inside
- Annie Dillard Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
- Richard Fortey Life: an unauthorised biography
- Richard Mabey Weeds
- Robert Macfarlane Landmarks
and of course there are others I’m sure I’ve overlooked. I couldn’t really decide: we live in an age where Nature Writing (if we want to think of this as a genre: there’s an essay there for starters!) is of a very high quality and justifiably well promoted. There were criteria in this selection, in that I wanted to choose only one from each author but cheated with Robert Macfarlane because of how different Landmarks is from Lost Words and is anyway the latter is a joint creation – but in the end I wonder how different they are…
But I didn’t include writings that indirectly provoke me to think about nature – novels, for example – or poetry, so no Heaney or Thomas. So that indirect provoking also means no Garner, no Cooper, no Paver, no Pullman… I noticed after I’d compiled it that there are no children’s books unless Lost Words counts.
This is a lot harder than it looks, but at least my one nomination is in, for what it’s worth.
It was Landmarks, in case you wondered. I just can’t think of the other nine (and then some) not getting washed up on the desert island.