Ex Libris Kirkland

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First Written 2015
Genre Nonfiction
Origin UK
Publisher Penguin
ISBN-10 0241967872
ISBN-13 978-0241967874
My Copy library copy
First Read August 09, 2022


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.

Noted on August 9, 2022

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.


Quoted on August 9, 2022

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