Thursday, 8 September 2016

Some books I've been reading ......


The pile of books by my desk waiting to be reviewed has been growing for months now. With a long trip coming up and much to do before I go I’ve realised that if I wait until there’s time to review each one individually some or all will be missed. So here’s brief review of seven of them, in no particular order. All are recommended.

Inglorious: Conflict In the Uplands by Mark Avery, published by Bloomsbury, £16.99

The driven grouse shooting industry has become a big conservation issue in the last few years, in large part due to the passion and commitment of one man, Mark Avery. His book is a damning indictment of driven grouse shooting and its negative effects on the environment, and birds of prey in particular. Avery’s arguments are backed up by facts and careful analysis and this is a significant and important book. It’s also very reasable.

Mountains and Rivers: Dee Valley Poems from Source to Sea by Brian Lawrie, published by Malfranteaux Concepts, £9.50

This little book of poetry celebrates the river Dee and the Cairngorms in which it has its source. The author captures the hills and the river and the feelings of being there well in these sparse but powerful poems. A book for quiet contemplation. Some good photographs by Mick McKie too.

The Rainforests of Britain and Ireland: A Traveller’s Guide by Clifton Bain, published by Sandstone Press, £24.99

This is a companion volume to The Ancient Pinewoods of Scotland, which I reviewed here, and covers the deciduous forests of the Atlantic edge. It’s packed with information plus travel details and tantalising photographs. If you’re heading west and like trees this book would be an invaluable companion.

The Ancient Pinewoods of Scotland: A Companion Guide by Clifton Bain, published by Sandstone Press, £11.99

This little book is an abridged version of The Ancient Pinewoods of Scotland and is designed to be carried in the pocket or the pack. It contains brief descriptions, travel notes, maps and photographs. Measuring 16 x 11.75 x 1.25cms and weighing 245 grams it’s no burden to carry.

The Invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander Von Humboldt, the Lost Hero of Science by Andrea Wulf, published by John Murray, £25

The story of Alexander Von Humboldt is fascinating. A huge name in science and culture in the nineteenth century he has since faded from view, hence the subtitle of this book. I knew of him from mentions in the writings of Charles Darwin and John Muir but had no idea just what an important and influential figure he was and still is, even if the latter isn’t recognised. Wulf tells his story well and this book should do much to reinstate him, especially with conservationists.

Grand Adventures by Alastair Humphreys, published by Collins, £16.99

Want to plan a really big adventure? Or just want to dream about one? This book is packed with information, advice and inspiration for making that dream reality. Apart from Humphreys himself fifty or so other adventurers, explorers, climbers and outdoors people give their stories and their suggestions for everything from bicycle trips to ocean crossings to mountain climbs. 

Let My People go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman by Yvon Chouinard, published by Penguin, £20

First published ten years ago this book by Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard has been extensively updated and expanded for a new edition. The author details his parallel development as a businessman and an environmentalist and how he sees the two as intertwined, describing how Patagonia is run for environmental aims. An important book that repays rereading.

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