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If you like words, nature and the Great Outdoors you'll enjoy this little gem. MacFarlane unearths all sorts of words for different natural occurrences and introduces us to some of his favourite nature writers. He rails against the loss of nature vocabulary to the point where the mainstream has been left with dull generic terms like field, hedge, wood, hill etc. There is a rich body of words out there from sailors, farmers, shepherds, trekkers and country folk and Macfarlane's aim is to document these before they are lost forever. One of the words I've taken from it is 'smeuse' - a Sussex term for a small worn away tunnel or entrance in a hedge caused by a creature going back and forth. MacFarlane makes the point that by giving things a name we are more likely to notice them, look out for them - meaning the way we experience nature is enhanced. A truly enjoyable, life-affirming work
Occasionally one comes across a book which is simply and utterly beautiful. It doesn't happen often; and even more rarely when the book is non-fiction. But this book is special. It is somehow nostalgic without being depressing, uplifting without being pretentious. As a celebration of all that is to be cherished in our landscape and our linguistic heritage it is without parallel. Highly recommended.
Landmarks is not so much a book of nature writing as a book about nature writing. For me, the chapters about the writing of Nan Shepherd and Roger Deakin were the most interesting - two writers I have long since meant to try but haven't got round to yet. In between the chapters are glossaries of nature words. These are interesting to dip in and out of, but they are heavily weighted in favour of languages that most of us would avoid attempting to pronounce, such as Gaelic, so I'm not likely to be using many of them soon! Robert MacFarlane is a passionate and interesting author, his writing soars and is always a joy to read.
This is a book about words and the cultures they belong to. The main feature is a set of glossaries of countryside names, in British languages and dialects as well as some technical and poetical terms. Whether knowing the Gaelic for a gap in a hedge or the Herefordshire word for a flood is actually useful is debatable, but I found it very interesting. Between the glossaries are essays on the works of other outdoors writers, most of whom Mr MacFarlane seems to have known. Part memoir and part book review, these are of varying interest but readable and beautifully written. I recommend to all who love words and the countryside.
Hard to pin down what makes this book special. It has an excellent cover, good reviews, and an easy style. On the debit side is the distance between the author's friends and their experiences, and those brought up from earlier writing. It read like part academic essay, part anecdote, and part dictionary. It might dazzle many, but it leaves out modern local comparison of folklore. It might be an enjoyable book to read when travelling or on holiday, though not something you would gravitate to as evening reading. The sum total is it's not enough in places and too much in others.
A perfect book if you enjoy the countryside and enjoy the English language. By enjoying the countryside, I don't mean a nice day out but an interest that can identify some birds and insects, can spot a track in a field or a gap in a hedgerow, and always takes home litter and shuts gates behind you. By enjoying the English language, yes, it is wonderfully written with scholarship and originality, but I am referring to regional and dialect and specialised words for things or activities relating to the countryside, from yesterday and today, with a view to which might be retained in the future. With words such as 'acorn’ and ‘buttercup’ being dropped in favour of adding ‘broadband’ and ‘cut and paste’ to the Oxford Junior Dictionary, and flora and fauna being endangered or extinct annually, this book is a treasure. I don't like the quality of paper and print in my paperback so I may treat myself to a hardback.
A very fine book - others will say better than I can what needs to be said, but it shows the older folk had precise ideas when describing their world. The book tries to preserve them and may give us hope we can preserve some of the landscape before it's too late. I had a copy and bought this one for a friend, who now loves it.
Absolutely fantastic, book. I didn't no what to make of it at first, but now I can't put it down, the only drawback is that it's suggested many more books to add to my amazon basket, (currently over the 300 mark). Hope I get to read them all in my lifetime! Beautifully worded, from beginning to end, an achievement of literature.
This book covers many different Authors views of landscapes and how they see them. In this book it is best to let your mind go free and see your own visions of our ever changing land, be it seasonal or through what physical changes man has made against what is naturally changing.
I bought this as a present for a friend's husband, who appreciated it greatly. However, before gifting it, I dipped into the book and was as mesmerised by the writing as the imagery of Stanley Donwood's evocative front cover. These gave me great inspiration for my fourth book, which is due to be published in late 2020.