Article published on January 28, 2016.
Paul Cheney is our BookLife guide and eminently well qualified to be so!
I have always loved all things about reading and books, and cannot walk past a bookshop or library without popping in; just to look, you understand. I read all types and genres of books, but my real passion is for non-fiction, in particular travel, natural history, history and science. I also love science fiction and fantasy and try to read some contemporary fiction too.
I am passionate about encouraging others to read too, and have been a giver for World Book Night since its inception. People seem to think I read a lot, but it does feel that with my TBR pile reaching epic proportions, I always feel I need to read more. With others I run an online book club on Good Reads where we have a fiction, non-fiction and classic book to choose from each month, as well as regular challenges.
I live in the beautiful county of Dorset, with my wife and three children, and work as a product development engineer, and somewhere in all of that I do actually get time to breathe.
Last year I read some exceptional books – Landmarks by Robert Macfarlane and The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson – and the odd disappointment, but overall it was a pretty good year. And there are still others which I have yet to got to, but I am still drawn to all the new catalogues and releases for 2016.
Several titles have caught my eye whilst browsing, including: Rain: Four Walks in English Weather, a non-fiction book by Melissa Harrison, author of the beautifully written On Hawthorn Time. A Walk in the Park is a new book by Travis Elborough, author of several quirky and fascinating books. Already being compared to H is for Hawk, The Outrun by Amy Liptrot is all about her recovery from alcoholism on the island of Orkney. The publishers are hoping for a hit with this one. Anna Pavord is better known as a garden writer and the author of Tulip, a book all about the madness of Tulipmania. Her new book, Landskipping, to be published in June, is all about some of Britain’s most iconic landscapes and how artists and farmers have responded to it.
Blending travel with nature and history, comes The Naked Shore by Tom Blass. All about the North Sea, he has travelled the periphery of this small, but significant body of water, meeting those that depend on it for their livelihoods and venturing beneath the waves of this still wild place. Another defining part of England is the patchwork of fields, and John Wright in his new book, The Natural History of the Hedgerow aims to bring alive these ancient boundaries and wildlife havens. For those with a riskier outlook on life, there is The Perfect Bet by Adam Kucharski. Until now those running casinos have had the upper hand, but in this new book, Kucharski details just how professional gamblers are using cutting edge science to claw back the advantage.
Even though we have just crept into the New Year, there have been two books of note for me so far; The Land Where Lemons Grow by Helena Attlee which is a fascinating account of Italy and its aromatic citrus groves. A nominee for the Stanford Dolman Travel awards it made perfect reading for a very damp January. The second was Pondlife by Al Alvarez. This journal describes his frequent swims in the Highgate Ponds and his observations of the local wildlife, weather and people is just a delight to read.
Indeed, a year to look forward to.
nudge List Jan 2016: Money Money Money: The Big Short by Michael Lewis film release