We’re excited! Once again, through the kind donation of a very thoughtful Land Library supporter, we have just received a fresh batch of brilliant British nature books. It’s like walking into your local bookstore with every book brand new to your eyes.
Here’s one of our favorites: Patrick Barkham’s The Butterfly Isles: A Summer in Search of Our Emperors and Admirals (pictured above). In the grand tradition of a birder’s Big Year, Barkham sets out over the course of a single summer to discover how many British butterflies he can see. Along the way, he paints a vivid portrait of the admirable and eccentric butterfly collectors of the past, not to mention those he meets on the road. Margaret Drabble loved this book, commenting that “readers will be astonished by details of the teeming natural world that we so blindly inhabit.”
Another unique addition to the Land Library’s shelves is also pictured above, Nature Tales: Encounters with Britain’s Wildlife, edited by Michael Allen & Sonya Patel Ellis. This thoughtful anthology gathers together most of Britain’s leading writers and naturalists. Here’s just a few: Charles Darwin, Charles Waterton, Colin Tudge, Dorothy Wordsworth, Edward A. Armstrong, Edward Grey, Henry Williamson, J.A. Baker, John Clare, Kathleen Jamie, Mark Cocker, Miriam Rothschild, Richard Jefferies, Richard Mabey, Robert Mcfarlane, Roger Deakin, William Cobbett, R.M. Lockley — and that’s just a partial list. A wonderful collection!
And rounding out our latest brilliant box of British Books are these one-of-a-kind volumes:
Men and the Fields by Adrian Bell (the author traveled through East Anglia before modern agriculture altered the landscape forever. Ronald Blythe has called Bell’s book “among the best rural literature of the 20th century.”), The Plot: A Biography of an English Acre by Madeleine Bunting (what a wonderful place-based book — the multi-faceted story of a one-acre plot on the Yorkshire Moors), The Lie of the Land: An Under-the-Field Guide to the British Isles by Ian Vince (Vince brings to life a prehistoric Britain with red desert sands, molten rivers of lava, and great tectonic collisions).
The Nature of Scotland: Landscape, Wildlife and People by Magnus Magnusson & Graham White (a terrific primer & full of color photos), Map of a Nation: A Biography of the Ordnance Survey by Rachel Hewitt (the Land Library is lucky enough to have several books on the U.S. Geological Survey’s work & explorations — now, here’s a book that tells a similar story of painstaking progress and adventure, this time on the British Isles), The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd (a beautifully written look at the misty mountain environment of the Cairngorms. Jim Perrin, writing in The Guardian, had this high praise, describing The Living Mountain as “the finest book ever written on nature and landscape in Britain.”).
A Year in the Woods by Chris Elford (the day-to-day adventures & sensitive observations of a forest ranger on the Dorset/Wiltshire border, At the Water’s Edge: A Personal Quest for Wildness by John Lister-Kaye (for thirty years John Lister-Kaye has taken the same circular walk from his home in the Scottish Highlands. His walk, and this book, describes the constant evolution of one of Britain’s best-known naturalists. Lister-Kaye is also the founder of the world-renowned Aigas Field Centre).
For more on Britain’s vast literature on the land, be sure to check out a few of our earlier posts!