My love for all things Roger Deakin knows no bounds but alongside Notes From Walnut Tree Farm I still have that constantly evolving and growing shelf of books that offer similar inspiration, and which I have mentioned from time to time on here. It moves around the house depending on space and reshuffles etc, but the books always stay together and I instinctively know what belongs there.
Some really exceptional books are being added, and though not due for publication yet I thought I'd share anyway because at first reckoning they look set to become best sellers and are really inspiring me at the moment.
We have an island holiday planned with the Tinker this summer ...watch out Orkney because I already plan to join here....well the Stromness branch probably. Orkney Library run a very humorous Twitter feed which I follow, so I hope to stop by to say hello and borrow some local books while we are there, but I am also surrounding myself with books in preparation and these will be ideal.
I am new to the writing of Kathleen Jamie, very late coming to her first book Findings which is on its way to me, but which I had always 'meant' to read. I feel sure many of you will have journeyed with Findings first, but I am now very excited about Kathleen Jamie's second book Sightlines due for publication in April. The book is under strict embargo until then so I don't think I am allowed to say much more than this... if you are a fan of Findings you might want to get an order in for Sightlines pronto.
"The outer world flew open like a door, and I wondered, what is it that we're just not seeing?"
and Kathleen Jamie casts her astute gaze over the 'natural', the remote and the human-made offering a chance to 'pause and look afresh at our surroundings.'
I have hovered around reading Robert Macfarlane's The Wild Places, dipped in and out inbetween Deakin moments, but the arrival of a proof copy of his forthcoming book The Old Ways has stopped me in my tracks. It's about walking, of which I now do great deal, but Robert Macfarlane is walking the old paths in search of routes to the past and trying to decide how we are shaped by the landscapes through which we move. That all sounded a bit nebulous and vague until I discovered that Robert Macfarlane's muse for his walk along the Icknield Way is none other than Edward Thomas. I was immediately in the zone, had the collected poems off the shelf in a flash and noted that Robert Macfarlane graciously extends his thanks to Matthew Hollis, author of Now All Roads Lead to France in his acknowledgements.
I often wonder how it feels when one writer discovers that another is on the same trail??
David Lodge talked about his own experience of that when he discovered that he was sharing Henry James with several others simultaneously. I can only imagine the authorial equivalent of that thing we all did at school as we curled the elbow around the work and bent our heads low over it, especially having just read Possession where those professional rivalries formed the crux of the action. But I gather, from Robert Macfarlane's acknowledgements that a true generosity of spirit prevailed here.
I'll probably be shot at dawn for quoting from a proof but I'm sorry I can't stop myself... The Old Ways is too good not to, and this line has resonated for me constantly since I read it and as I tramp around the highways and by ways of the Tamar Valley...
'For some time now it has seemed to me that the two questions we should ask of any strong landscape are these: firstly, what do I know when I am in this place that I can know nowhere else? And then, vainly, what does this place know of me that I cannot know of myself?'
I can answer the first part but haven't figured out my answer to the second part yet, but it has really set me thinking as I walk... for me this is a sure sign of a really inspiring book.
I am going back to the beginning with Robert Macfarlane who suggests in his introduction that his three books to date make a loose trilogy about landscape and the human heart. I have bought Mountains of the Mind and with the first chapter entitled 'Possession' following on immediately from a quote of Gerard Manley Hopkins... 'O the mind, mind has mountains.'
I suspect this writing is going to tick every box but does anyone have any more suggestions in a similar vein??
And I'm reading Peter May's The Black House for a slice of island crime, with The Lewis Man to follow, but where else should I start with my Orkney reading beyond George Mackay Brown's Hawkfall... and my thanks to Karen at Cornflower who gave me a copy of that when we met.