Nature Books

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.

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