3 Books, 3 points: December 2019
Hello everyone, and welcome to December’s book review! It’s settling down into what I like to call ‘reading season’ – where you can stay immersed under a blanket with a good book as it’s dark and cold outside – perfect!
Have you read any great books recently? I’ve been logging all the books I’ve been reading on my Goodreads, it’d be fab to see you there if you’ve got a Goodreads account. So, for this review, here are three books that I’ve particularly enjoyed recently!
Ring the Hill by Tom Cox**
-Ring the Hill is a wonderful book that wanders with an almost stream-of-consciousness air around the hills and valleys that have been home to author Tom Cox. Descriptive and atmospheric, I found myself
lost in the pages, smiling and laughing out loud at anecdotes (especially those involving the author’s father) and wanting to visit these places myself. Ambling along a path of hills and the stories of the people in, on and around them, we join Cox as he wonders what these places mean to him and those around him.
-Growing up in the Peak District, I especially loved the descriptive, freezing Peak winter at the top of a desolate hill above Eyam. The landscape there is beautiful but harsh, and heading into the depths of a dark, icy winter, I felt every word chill cold in my bones, evoking memories of the landscape and hills full of secrets that my eyes grew up with. That’s what I especially liked about this book, I sort of fell into it head first. The writing style felt comfortable, thoughts shared with the reader like a friend.
-I followed Cox’s Twitter account @mysadcat for a number of years, and it was bittersweet to share the pages with The Bear and sweary Shipley again, peeking into their final months from a place more magical and more intimate than the odd social media post – it felt like a fitting tribute to them to read the story of their final days lived out in such a magical place. I just loved this book – as someone who loves to be ‘up’ in the landscape, it felt familiar but over-layered with something deeper, a pull to climb and seek out new hills to listen to.
Zen in the Art of Permaculture Design, by Stefan Geyer
-This slim book is one of those unassuming reads that packs a punch long after you’ve finished. I wasn’t expecting the extent to which it made me think, and ended up really enjoying the way such a small piece of prose could set my mind wandering off on a long tangent. I’d had it on my ‘to-read’ pile for a long time after I bought it in a bargain book offer from Permanent Publications a while ago and I’m regretting not picking it up sooner.
-The layout is very minimal, which is always a plus, with lots of blank space and beautiful graphics. I felt the space actually gave me ‘breathing room’ in a way, as if the pages were purposefully giving me permission to take a thought and make of it what I would. I started wanting to skim through, but found myself slowed, somehow treating each chapter as something to be savoured. Is this the Zen part?! If so, it was very effective!
– Permaculture principles are offered as seeds to begin to build a regenerative culture – quietly and effectively, in the background, whilst the world continues to shout at each other. Observing, connecting, going with the flow – all ideas that seem to be pushed to the side in our reactive, individualised culture. We are encouraged to think abundantly, not from a place of lack or fear of scarcity. This is itself was an uncomfortable thought to sit with, at first. So much of our thinking is about fear, from climate change, lack of resources, a growing population. So to entertain the idea that we have all we need, even though this is probably true, on a level – it was eye-opening for me. This book is full of moments like this, challenging us to think differently, to play with thoughts. For anyone seeking a way to create change that spreads out into the world, in a quiet way at first, then I definitely suggest giving this book a go.
(you can find it at Wordery via my affiliate link above, but if you prefer to buy direct from Permanent Publications and support them, you can also find the book here!)
The Garden Jungle, or Gardening to Save the Planet, by Dave Goulson
-Dave Goulson takes us on a journey into our gardens, parks, plant pots and flowerbeds to meet the insects that live quietly beneath our feet in this manifesto for wild spaces and quiet harmony. Goulson champions these underdogs of the garden, showing us just how important they are and explaining the devastating impact that comes from the use of pesticides and common chemical treatments. As a bee expert, Goulson’s knowledge, passion and humour shine through the writing, giving us the feeling that this is someone who really, really knows his subject. We should take heed and listen.
-I’m all for wild spaces, and felt rather pleased about the extent that our garden has ‘gone rogue’. I’ve noticed an increase in bug life over the last year or so, and reading this book made me realise just what more I can do to increase habitats for the smaller lifeforms that live in and around the garden. I learnt a lot too – from how plants labelled ‘organic’ have been found to contain neonicotinoids, to how flea drops on our pets can cause harm to the insects living around our houses. There are simple suggestions to make small changes that will have a big impact, along with some recipes and guidance on what plants to grow or buy.
-I found this book to be the perfect, gentle inspiration to connect with our small patches of land and learn to live in harmony with the plants and creatures that reside there. A return to growing our own food is important, where we can control what and how we grow the plants that will provide nutrients for both ourselves and the creatures that live in our gardens. Goulson talks about the ‘war’ on creatures that are now seen as ‘evil’… this idea we seem to have been sold that the only way is to kill small animals that make the mistake of having a chomp on our lettuces. Although the book is serious about the environmental impact caused by the destruction of habitat and proliferation of harmful chemical treatments, I was left with a sense of hope – and a renewed determination to let the weeds spread joyously across my little patch of land.