Why Nature Rocks: March Reads

Last Child in the Woods book outside

March has surprised me with some beautiful spring days. After so much rain, it’s wonderful to see some blossom. What with soaking up plenty of outdoor time, it’s been a perfect month to read Last Child in the Woods. Richard Louv presents a staggering amount of research all pointing to our human need to be part of nature, whilst considering the many factors that have drawn us indoors.

I loved the idea. Yes! We should all go outside more! We should roll in the dirt, get lost and be inspired! If anyone’s in doubt as to nature’s brilliance, or wants some new interesting facts, then this is well worth a read.

I also read the second in the Wool trilogy. My long train journey to Manchester warranted a hefty piece of pulp fiction, and this kept me occupied for the full return trip.

A note on quitting: If you read February’s post you’ll spot that I had planned to read The Tiger’s Wife this month. I read half of it. I also read half of a P.G. Wodehouse book. Both were lovely, but I just didn’t make it beyond the halfway point. There are too many great books out there to warrant soldiering on with one. If you aren’t revelling in your read, I say ditch it!

Also, a big thank you to Laura who has created such a friendly online group of readers for #theyearinbooks. It’s lovely to see the variety in what everyone is reading!

Green Tomatoes and Steel Silos: February Reads

Stoner book on a shelf

February was a month filled with a delicious number of books.  It’s no accident that this coincided with the arrival of a lovely hand-me-down armchair in the house and a lack of good TV (no, I haven’t yet got with Breaking Bad; sorry!)

After a winter of stormy cold reads, I turned towards warmer climes with Fried Green Tomatoes.  This book was filled with charming characters whose southern drawl just leapt off the page.  The small-town-small-drama still touched on bigger issues: Alabama’s race relations, the desperate poverty sweeping the country, and the uplifting persistence of Railroad Bill.  I enjoyed how people helped others in simple, unexpected ways.  Everyone had something to give; even the very old, who can sometimes seem on the fringes of mainstream society.  A sunny uplifting read for a rainy month.

I also read Wool: a much bleaker story; cold and steely with a dark centre.  This post-apocalyptic vision is not my usual choice (and I’ll admit I first picked it up thinking it was about knitting).  But the main character is a brilliantly strong woman who stands up to some intimidating shit.  I was hooked and read it super-quick.  A good holiday read!

I picked up Stoner purely because we had a brand new copy on the shelf and it always feels a terrible waste to not read a full price book (incidentally, another book I first picked up thinking it was about something else).  Initially slow going but well worth the time.  It got me thinking about a lot of things, and now I just want to find someone else who’s read it.  A good book group read.

The Rosie Project has been getting a lot of press, and I’ve seen several copies in #theyearinbooks.  I fell in love with Don Tillman.  What a brilliantly quirky guy.  Lots of fun to be had with someone who leads life so methodically and literally.  This is a perfect rainy weekend read; sit in your armchair with a pot of tea and devour it in two big bites.

So, what lies in store for March?  I’ve just started reading The Tiger’s Wife and also want to read some non-fiction.  What’s on your March reading list?

Fried Green February

Tree roots covered in moss

Fried Green Tomatoes and reading chair photo collage

I’ve been spotting tiny pale green shoots popping up from the earth, and hearing birdsong on my morning walk to the ferry.  It’s only February, but I’m embracing these tiny promises of spring and I’m ready for some warmer reading.

I’ve relished some very stormy reads this winter: Whisky Galore, set on a far Scottish Island; Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow, set in snowy Denmark and the Arctic Circle; and January’s start to #theyearinbooks: We, the Drowned.  I’ve spent a month reading through a century of shipping lives, sailed through freezing fog along banks of icebergs and relentless storms.  It’s been a fantastic adventure.

It took a year of Tom’s encouragement before I finally read this book.  Whilst it’s beautiful cover was inviting, it’s 688 pages were intimidating.  But not a page was wasted. Vast in the time and distances described, Jensen tells of the generations of men crossing the world’s shipping routes, gone from their home town of Marstal for years at a time.  The stories of the young boys’ tribulations in school, and the women managing shipping companies back home were equally captivating.  One world war was described from a distance, while the second was brutally close.  So many vivid character, different perspectives and personal stories within this book, I’d confidently recommend it to anyone.

Such a read is a hard act to follow.  The only answer seemed contrast.  So, I’m hoping for a gentler and warmer read in Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.   I’m suspecting this book will make me long for warmth and summer blooms.  Right now, I’ll settle for a bit of afternoon sun and an old tree.

Tom on a rope swing

Quote of the Month: One Hand

Silhouette of Bryony

Isaksen held out his hand and counted on his fingers: inventiveness, persistence, vision, will to survive and, more than anything, the ability to unite in a common purpose to achieve what was impossible for the individual. Five fingers, one hand.

The hand that blows with the wind, the hand of flexibility, the hand that seizes every opportunity that presents itself!
Carsten Jensen

January has been a busy start to the year, with plenty of new plans and outdoor adventures. We’ve grabbed every free moment of blue sky and got muddy feet more times than I can count. I’ve met people over new projects and scribbled plans over old notebooks.

But I’ve still had plenty of time on the couch with this book, going through the stories of the many generations within. This quote in amongst the pages seemed a perfect January theme: persisting through the storms, sharing the load with others, and preparing for the unexpected along the way. I hope the next eleven months will be filled with plenty more inventiveness and vision.

Social Reading

We, the Drowned by Carsten Jensen

January is just made for books. Firesides, cups of tea, woolly socks; all perfect for settling down with a good read. It’s that time of year when everyone is brim full of new determination to do more of what they love. And who doesn’t love to curl up with a book? Sure, I know we get distracted by screens, or the conversation at the neighbouring cafe table (no? just me?) But. I do love it when I finally sink in and get lost in another world between the covers.

I love to share good reads with other people. I’d rather know what you’re reading, than what you thought of Strictly. And if I see someone with a book on the train I usually get busted for craning my neck to spot the title. If it has a beautiful cover, I’m in love, and have to share it on Instagram. So, I’m very happy to join Laura in sharing my reads in #theyearinbooks, and I hope you will too! My head is stuck firmly in We, the Drowned at the moment. It’s a fat read to finish by the end of the month, so I better put the kettle on and put down the screen.