PAUL ON: The BookLife year unfurls

Article published on May 13, 2016.

Not quite sure where the year is going, as it seems to be whizzing by. My never ending to be read pile has produced some pretty good reads though in the last month or so. One notable read was The Outrun by Amy Liptrot. This debut is a raw account of her recovery from alcoholism and how the wild landscapes in Orkney played a key part in keeping her sober. She is very talented and is definitely an author to watch out for. Melissa Harrison has written two fiction books already, At Hawthorn Time was even shortlisted for the Costa. Her latest Rain: Four Walks in English Weather is her first non-fiction book. Her beautiful prose and attention to the smallest detail make this well worth reading.

The Naked Shore was an interesting book. Tom Blass spent time travelling round the countries that face the North Sea, and his book brings alive the history and impact as well as getting under the skin of the people who inhabit these landscapes. Another explorer is Naomi Novak, she has been looking at the cultural icon that is the Green Man in, Uprooted. This interesting book covers all manner of stories and histories that link the pagan and Christian worlds to this face emerging from the leaves. A new voice to the copse of natural history writers is James Macdonald Lockhart. His debut book, Raptor: A Journey Through Birds, is a celebration of these magnificent birds.

Meanwhile the Blue Peter Book Awards are a good gauge of what’s happening in children books. Ross MacKenzie picked up Best Story with The Nowhere Emporium and Adam Frost’s book The Epic Book of Epicness, collected the Best Book with Facts award. The Costa also chose a children’s book as its overall winner. I haven’t yet read the acclaimed The Lie Tree, but from what I hear it is a good gothic melodrama by Frances Hardinge. February saw the longlists for the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals announced; two of note are The Shepherds Crown by the late great Sir Terry Pratchett and The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Chris Riddell. David Solomons’, My Brother is a Superhero collected the overall prize in the Waterstones Children’s book Prize.

So what to read next? Well, two have landed on my doormat recently, The Weather Experiment by Peter Moore just published in paperback all about the people instrumental in the founding of the Met office. The second is a travel book, Wild by Nature: One Woman, One Trek, One Thousand Nights by Sarah Marquis. It is an epic journey where she walks across six countries over the course of three years. With hints of summer on the horizon I have picked up a copy of Pier Review by Jon Bounds & Danny Smith where they travel the UK visiting every pier on our coastline, Summersdale have a knack of picking quirky travel subjects so I’m looking forward to this. One recent publication is No Way But Gentlenesse by Richard Hines, a natural history memoir about Hines’s relationship with a kestrel.

Paul Cheney






The Wicked Boy by Kate Summerscale


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