Four books to read over summer
I hate to say it but The Daily Mail recently prompted me to pre-order Wilding by Isabella Tree immediately I'd finished an article. The article was called How letting Mother Nature reclaim prime farmland and allowing cattle and ponies to run free produced breathtaking results. I read it through from beginning to end, utterly transfixed, completely inspired and entranced by the words, descriptions and their actions.
I often worry about all the concrete we're pouring over the land. All the big warehouses that are being built on farmland by the motorways and dual carriageways. The three massive housing estates built in my local town on what was once lovely fields. And the intensive farming that destroys natural habitats with fields upon field stretched out, sinisterly quiet, without a noise from a bird for miles. You almost feel that once the concrete is down there's no way back.
But I'm really heartened by this book. Wilding is about a re-wilding project where intensive farmland was allowed to grow and become wild once more. The article was fascinating so I'm really looking forward to getting into the detail of it in the book.
Why Willows Weep was brought to my attention by the publishers, Indie Books. They had found my Instagram account and wanted to send me a copy . (Isn't that a perfectly brilliant example of a business doing their homework on an Instagrammer?) I was flattered to be sent the book and am looking forward to dipping into the short stories inside. Each story has been inspired by Britain's nineteen species of native trees. Authors include Tracy Chevalier, Joanna Harris, Phillipa Gregory and Maggie O'Farrell. Plus each book sold will enable the planting of at least one native tree by The Woodland Trust.
Bookworm by Lucy Mangan is a title I've been quite excited about since I first heard about it. It is a memoir of childhood reading. As Lucy was born around the same time as me I'm thinking we'll have read some of the same books.
Like many of us I was obsessed with reading as a child and would visit the library regularly. If I close my eyes I can still picture the road I walked down, the park I'd walk through, stepping through those doors, the smell of the books, the touch of my four green library tickets and the satisfying sound of the date stamp. The book is divided up into chapters such as 'the very hungry reader', 'the Blyton interregnum' and 'darkness rising'. At the back Lucy lists all the books she mentions in each chapter. You can't imagine the joy I felt when I saw 'Private Keep Out'.
See, Private Keep Out was written by a Nottinghamshire author called Gwen Grant who once upon a time came to my childhood library and, amidst the library hush punctuated by the noise of the date stamp and overlaid with the smell of the books, she chatted to a small group of us about her book. I still have a copy of Knock and Wait, another of her books, which has been signed by her.
Life in the garden by Penelope Lively is a partial memoir about Penelope's own life in gardens. This includes a childhood garden in Cairo, a sloping Somerset garden, Oxfordshire gardens and a small urban one in North London.
Now I've never been one into gardening. My parents would despair at me as they both have massive green thumbs. But since moving to the countryside my developing love of nature has expanded a little into this wonderful activity and now I love to read about other's people's gardening experiences.