As it’s World Book Day and I love books, I thought I’d have a look through my messy bookshelves and pick out some of my favourite books – the ones I’ve carted with me around the UK and across the North Sea, the ones that I love just looking at because they’re beautiful works of art, and the ones I’ve read to death.Read More »A few of my favourite books
In search of the nature writer J.A. Baker I started in the obvious place – with his works. I bought myself the Collins edition, containing both his books – The Peregrine and The Hill of Summer – and some of his diaries, as well as his only other publication, a short essay written for the RSPB about the Essex coast.Read More »Wanderlust, or searching for J.A. Baker
We’ve taken to listening to the radio when we eat dinner and usually the only channel that will tune in properly is BBC Radio 3. It tends to be classical music, but one Sunday a few weeks ago my attention was caught by the programme that was on – Way off the Beaten Track, presented by Stephen Smith. During the show Smith examined a number of writers who have play fast and loose with the truth and asks – does it really matter?Read More »Lies in nonfiction/truth in fiction
I think one of the reasons that I developed a love of nature and nature writing is that I was fortune enough, despite growing up in the city, to have spent a lot of time as a child in the countryside. And in particular, as a family – at least in my memory, it was probably less frequent than I think – we often spent weekends out in the Peak District, climbing and picnicking. A few days ago I went outdoor climbing for the first time in years. I finished work at five, changed into my climbing gear and drove off to The Roches with my stepdad. Read More »The Roches
The Peregrine is written in the form of a diary that spans from October to April and purports to chart a single wintering season of the peregrines in a small corner of Essex. However, The Peregrine is in fact the culmination of 10 years of stalking and observing on the part of Baker. Baker is a monomaniac, he is obsessed and hypnotised by peregrines, and his level of dedication to them is what makes this book so intriguing and worth the read.
I was sceptical about how interesting a book about one man following a single species of bird could be, and to be honest it is a slow read, but then The Peregrine is a book that demands to be read slowly and savoured. Time and again I found myself re-reading sentences over and over, not because I kept getting distracted or because I didn’t understand them, but because of the beauty of Baker’s language and the clarity with which he portrays the life of the world around him.Read More »Review: The Peregrine by J.A. Baker