Ex Libris Kirkland

Ex Libris Kirkland is my entirely self-centered way to keep track of what I read, what I like, and what I want to remember.

Recently Quoted

  • The range itself is the eroded stump of a mass of magma that rose up through the earth's crust in the Devonian, cooled into granite, then emerged out of the surrounding schists and gneiss. The Cairngorms were once higher than today's Alps, but over billennia they have been eroded into a low-slung wilderness of whale-backed hills and shattered cliffs.


    an excerpt from Landmarks, written by Robert Macfarlane in 2015

  • [on finding a near-dead heron] As I approached I could see its whole body craving into flight. But it could not fly. I gave it peace, and saw the agonized sunlight of its eyes slowly heal with cloud.

    No pain, no death, is more terrible to a wild creature than its fear of man… A poisoned crow, gaping and helplessly floundering in the grass, bright yellow foam bubbling from its throat, will dash itself up again and again on to the descending wall of air, if you try to catch it. A rabbit, inflated and foul with myxomatosis… will feel the vibration of your footstep and look for you with bulging, sightless eyes.

    We are the killers. We stink of death. We carry it with us. It sticks to us like frost. We cannot tear it away.

    an excerpt from The Peregrine, written by J. A. Baker in 1967

  • Perhaps in that retrospective reverie she recalled the early time in which she had first looked in the glass and discovered that she was beautiful: that fatal early time in which she had first begun to look upon her loveliness as a right divine, a boundless possession which was to be a set-off against all girlish short-comings, a counter-balance of every youthful sin. Did she remember the day in which that fairy dower of beauty had first taught her to be selfish and cruel, indifferent to the joys and sorrows of others, cold-hearted and capricious, greedy of admiration, exacting and tyrannical, with that petty woman's tyranny which is the worst of despotisms? Did she trace every sin of her life back to its true source? and did she discover that poisoned fountain in her own exaggerated estimate of the value of a pretty face? Surely, if her thoughts wandered so far along the backward current of her life, she must have repented in bitterness and despair of that first day in which the master- passions of her life had become her rulers, and the three demons of Vanity, Selfishness, and Ambition had joined hands and said, "This woman is our slave; let us see what she will become under our guidance."

    an excerpt from Lady Audley's Secret, written by Mary Elizabeth Braddon in 1862

Recently Noted

  • Effectively the book is a collection of long form reviews of other great nature writing, done by another great nature writer. It reminded me a lot of Helen MacDonald’s H is for Hawk, which was largely a book-length review of TH White’s The Goshawk. But Macfarlane is a great writer! Each chapter covers a nature writer, doing some biography and capsule recommendations that all made me want to pick up the books in question.

    Then paired with each, there’s glossary of rare landscape words, grouped in some theme (moors, rivers, mountains, forests, etc). There are some delights in there, but I found it hard to read them with any attention. No matter how much it’s fun to be like ‘in Gaelic they call icicles “X”’, my attention just blurs when I get to a definition list. It was hard to shake the feeling of those clickbait articles like ’27 untranslatable words'. Presumably there are some fascinating gems tucked in there, I just didn’t dig for them.

    an note about Landmarks, written by Robert Macfarlane in 2015

  • If Felix or Trudy recommends me a book, I will definitely read it. We all loved Hatchet, of course, but I never picked up any of the sequels and parallel books. Trudy loved this and told me all about this one enthusiastically.

    an note about Brian's Winter, written by Gary Paulsen in 1996

  • A little elegiac adventure story. Felt very much like Hatchet, but didn’t land the same punch. Trudy read it first so I picked it up too!

    an note about Tracker, written by Gary Paulsen in 1984

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Ex Libris Kirkland is a super-self-absorbed reading journal made by Matt Kirkland. Copyright © 2001 - .
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