Book Review: Light Rains Sometimes Fall by Lev Parikian

Light Rains Sometimes Fall – A British Year Through Japan’s 72 Seasons by Lev Parikian

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

This is a beautiful book; an intimate nature diary that takes much more of a detailed look than perhaps the cursory glance that many of us will pay to our local surroundings each day.

Splitting the year into the same time periods as Japan’s 72 seasons – 4 to 5 days at a time – and writing detailed observations during a time when we were all getting through pandemic restrictions, lockdowns etc. I did wonder whether I needed to read another book written during lockdown as there have been quite a few but I am glad that I did in this instance.

The authors keen eye and attention to detail make for a fascinating discourse on his local “patch”, I admire the focussed local knowledge and the chance to wonder at it and draw in the reader to the same space, but one which they have likely never been. This is much more than a simple record, it’s not the “first swift/swallow or daffodil” recordings that many of us make or see others persistently recording. This is written with a depth of feeling and innate curiosity that each one of those things becomes an exposition.

Whether you read this books as I did, from it’s beginning to end or pick it up at the relevant date when you start it is a wealth of fascination in the natural world, written by an observer with an intense passion for the natural world around him.


From The Publisher

ln the West we consider the passing of the year through the prism of four seasons. When Lev Parikian set out to write a nature diary, he turned instead to the structure offered by the traditional Japanese calendar which recognises the subtle changes of the natural world with a total of seventy-two ancient micro-seasons (ko).

From the birth of Spring (risshun) in early February to ‘the greater cold’ (daikon) in late January, Lev draws our eye to the exquisite beauty (and sometimes mundanity) of the day-to-day across a whole year. Mirroring the Haiku-like names of the Japanese micro-seasons, which reflect nature’s gradual progression, he guides us through his year in charming short chapters such as ‘Great tits scout for nesting sites’, ‘Lavender assumes massive proportions’, ‘Spiders appear in sheds’ and ‘Christmas trees are released into the wild’. For Japan’s lotus blossom, praying mantis and bear, he offers the bramble, wood louse and urban fox.

Fans of Lev’s writing praise the warmth, wit and lightness of touch that he brings to his observations of the natural world. By turns reflective, joyous and melancholy, this wonderful journal demonstrates how much there is to gain by ‘looking, looking again and looking better’ at nature’s gradual progression.

‘l know that without all this – the focus on small things, the conscious paying attention, the birds and the flowers and the trees and the bees and the dragonflies and spiders and fungi and the mosses and lichens und the weeds growing in the cracks on the pavements, and yes, even the bastard squirrels – my year would have been substantially less bearable

Lev Parikian

About The Author

Lev Parikian is a birdwatcher, conductor and author of Into The Tangled Bank (2020) and Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear (2018). He lives in West Norwood, London with his family, who are getting used to his increasing enthusiasm for nature. As a birdwatcher, his most prized sightings are a golden oriaol in the Alpujurras and a black redstart at Dungeness Power Station.

Light Rains Sometimes Fall – A British Year Through Japan’s 72 Seasons by Lev Parikian is published by Elliott & Thompson and available from 16th September 2021


[Disclaimer: The publishers very kindly sent me a proof copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I have received no payment for this review, and the thoughts are my own.]

Book Review: Goshawk Summer by James Aldred

Goshawk Summer by James Aldred

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

This is the story of the authors Spring and Summer 2020, and how he spent that time filming a nest of Goshawks up high in the canopy of the New Forest.

We learn of the character of this magnificent raptor and master predator and also foxes, Dartford Warbler, deer, curlew, woodlark, lapwing and many other species.

This is a fascinating insight into the Goshawk and the work of a wildlife cameraman, with incredible species knowledge and detail but also the more mundane aspects of being at the top of a tree in a hide waiting for something to happen. How everything is done to put the subject matter first and not disturb them, but at the same time being there to capture the perfect sequence.

Recorded over the period of the first lockdown in England for coronavirus and how he was able to keep working, the book also charts those changes. As the New Forest goes from relative quiet and stillness and the natural inhabitants seemingly expand to fill the void of humans; to a much busier and more frantic space as the restrictions are slowly lifted.

James Aldred takes you perfectly to the heart of his work space, I spent several hours lost with him watching the different species and captivated by their activity and behaviour. His book manages to tell the tale of what his camera sees without the moving images to back up the words. He perfectly captures the moment and takes the reader there.


From The Publisher

ln early 2020, wildlife cameraman James Aldred was commissioned to film the lives of a family of goshawks in the New Forest, his childhood home. He began to plan a treetop hide in a remote site that would allow him to film the gos nest, the newly hatched chicks and the lives of these elusive and enchanting birds.

Then lockdown. And as the world retreated, something remarkable happened. The noise of our everyday stilled. No more cars, no more off-roaders, no more airplanes roaring in the skies, no one in the goshawk woods – except James.

At this unique moment, James was granted a once in a lifetime opportunity to keep filming. And so, over that spring and into summer, he began to write about his experiences in a place empty of people, but filled with birdsong and new life. Amidst the fragility and the fear, there was silver moonlight, tumbling fox cubs, calling curlew and, of course, the soaring goshawks.

About The Author

JAMES ALDRED is the celebrated author of The Man Who Climbs Trees (Allen Lane) and an Emmy Award winning
documentary wildlife cameraman and film-maker. He works with the likes of the BBC and National Geographic and has collaborated with Sir David Attenborough on numerous projects including ‘Life of Mammals’,’Planet Earth’ and
‘Our Planet’.

He grew up in the New Forest and now lives in North Somerset. A product of the BBC natural history unit in Bristol, he has been a wildlife cameraman since 1997 and has been nominated for BAFTA/RTS awards many times. He specializes in forest filming, especially at height within forest canopy, where he uses ropes and canopy platforms to film orangutans, chimps and birds of prey. He spent the national lockdown of Spring and Summer 2020 filming in the New Forest.

Goshawk Summer: A New Forest Season Unlike Any Other by James Aldred is published by Elliott & Thompson and available from 29th July 2021


[Disclaimer: The publishers very kindly sent me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I have received no payment for this review, and the thoughts are my own.]

Book Review: The Eternal Season by Stephen Rutt

The Eternal Season by Stephen Rutt

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

We will all have stories to tell of what 2020 was like for us. Some of us may even write about them, but few will have the unique perspective of the naturalist that Stephen Rutt has in The Eternal Season. Not only is this a tale of his summer and its margins, but a look at how things were and might be. It is a well referenced book, packed with relevant facts about what the author sees, how they have changed and what predictions we might expect.

It’s an insight into how migratory species mark time and how this has changed over the years and will be likely to further change. It is a mix of science, lore, observations and experiences carefully told by an accomplished author who is making his mark as one of the modern greats of nature writing.

The chapters are interspersed with little vignettes of species or key moments and these are in some ways the best parts of the book, carefully intertwined they bring the book as a whole together. A whole that minds us to look not just at the present but at what the future may bring.

Many of us reported how much more of nature we saw when in the midst of lockdown, remarking that it was as if without our constant presence nature breathed again. Perhaps this is true but more likely we were just more present to what was going on around us. The Eternal Season talks to those of us who were noticing parts of the natural world we have not seen before or failed to observe and what that might mean. Stephen Rutt is the expert who can help translate the natural world for us through his own feelings and observations.

The Eternal Season is a book not just for this summer or this year but for all seasons through time.

From the Publisher

None of us will ever forget the summer of 2020. For Stephen Rutt it meant an enforced stay in rural Bedfordshire before he could return to the familiar landscapes of Scotland’s Dumfries. But wherever he found himself, he noted the abundance of nature teeming in our hedgerows, marshlands, and woodlands – the birds, butterflies, moths and dragonflies, bats, frogs and plants that characterise the British summer.

Yet in his explorations of the landscapes and wildlife at the height of the year, he also began to see disturbances to the traditional rhythms of the natural world: the wrong birds singing at the wrong time, disruption to habitats and breeding, the myriad ways climate change is causing a derangement of the seasons.

The Eternal Season is both a celebration of summer and an observation of the delicate series of disorientations that we may not always notice while some birds still sing, while nature still has some voice, but that may be forever changing our perception of the heady days of summer.

About the Author

Stephen Rutt is a 29-year-old award-winning writer, birder and naturalist, originally from Suffolk. ln 2019 he published his first two books, The Seafarers and Wintering: A Season with Geese. As a teenager, he interned with
Birdguides.co.uk and in 2015 he spent seven months at the bird observatory in North Ronaldsay.

He lives in Dumfries and his writing has appeared in the Big Issue, Caught by the River, Daily Mail, Scotsmon and Guardian among others.

The Seafarers, his debut, attracted comparison to the likes of Amy Liptrot, Adam Nicolson and Tim Dee. It won the Saltire Society First Book of the Year was longlisted for the Highland Book Prize and was the recipient of a Roger Deakin Award. Wintering was a Times’ Book of the year. Both books are available as Elliott & Thompson paperbacks.


The Eternal Season – Ghosts of summers past, present and future is published on 1st July 2021 by Elliott and Thompson.


[Disclaimer: The publishers very kindly sent me a proof copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I have received no payment for this review, and the thoughts are my own.]

Book Review: The Heeding by Rob Cowen, Illustrated by Nick Hayes

The Heeding by Rob Cowen, Illustrated by Nick Hayes.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

There will be a few books in life that you will always treasure, it might the content of the book itself or where you were or who you were with when you read them. Common Ground by Rob Cowen is one of those books for me. I can tell you when and where I was when I was reading it (in the last couple of weeks in my last paid job before going freelance), and to a limited extent I can tell you about the effect it had on me – I actually find it difficult to truly find the right words if I’m being honest.

It is the book that I have gifted / given more than any other book.

But. Rob hasn’t written another book until now and I really have waited for this book. This could go either way really couldn’t it?

Now let’s be honest, when I knew this book was coming I asked if I could go on the review list, before I was asked if I’d like to review it. I never do this. I pre-ordered a copy (it’s out tomorrow – June 17th). I wanted to read this book. I wanted it to be as good as Common Ground.

But. What if it wasn’t?

But. It’s better.

My god. IT. IS.


In many ways it couldn’t be more different, it is a book of poems not prose, but they tell a story just the same. Written during lockdown in 2020 and illustrated by Nick Hayes (I reviewed Nick’s the Book of Trespass here) – the two aspects merge together into an amazing book.

The Heeding is a message to us all. We need to heed what is going on around us. To call out what is maybe not quite right and to celebrate the good and the beautiful in our world. To take the time to actually look and listen to the world around us. To pay attention to those things that maybe we take for granted, and make sure that we don’t loose them through our own inattention.

It had me captivated from the first page. I devoured it, and did so again, finally slowing to read each poem more deliberately and going back over them. To be honest I’m still reading it. Although it’s sitting next to my keyboard right now, it’s always close at hand, my proof copy is falling apart through use. This is a special book, it’s another one that I’ll treasure and will be gifting to others.

If you should read this book, and you should go and order a copy right now. I think you’ll find your own meaning in the poems and the illustrations, if I had to pick a couple of poems that are personal favourites it would be; This Allotment; The Lovers; and The Heeding. These and the others have made me smile, laugh, cry, rant & rave and be grateful for the world. If we were all to heed the world around us in this way what an amazing place it would be.

The illustrations elevate the words too, they bring the poems to life with their striking, contrasting style as well as having a life of their own.

I am truly grateful for this book, it is beautiful. You may be able to tell that I am struggling to really find the words to truly express how I feel about it and just how good it is.

Please go and get yourself a copy, in fact buy a couple and give one to a friend.


From The Publisher: The world changed in 2020. Gradually at first, then quickly and irreversibly, the patterns by which we once lived altered completely. The Heeding paints a picture of a tear caught in the grip of history, yet filled with revelatory perspectives close at hand: from a sparrowhawk hunting in a back street, the moon over a town or butterflies massing in a high-summer yard, to remembrances of moments that shape a life. Collecting birds, animals, trees and people together and surfacing memories along the way, The Heeding becomes a profound meditation on a time no-one will forget.

The Heeding is a book of our time: conceived in lockdown by two creative people who have yet to meet in person. Across four seasons, Rob Cowen and Nick Hayes lead us on a journey that takes its markers and signs from nature all around us, coming to terms with a world that is filled with terror and pain, but beauty and wonder too.

Rob Cowen is an award winning writer, hailed as one of the UK’s most original voices on nature and place. His book Common Ground (2015) was shortlisted for the Portico, Richard Jefferies Society and Wainwright Prizes and voted on of the nation’s favourite nature books on BBC Winterwatch. He lives in North Yorkshire.

Nick Hayes is a writer, illustrator and print-maker. He is the author of the Sunday Times bestseller, The Book of Trespass: Crossing the Lines That Divide Us (2020). He has published graphic novels with Jonathan Cape and worked with many renowned titles. He has exhibited across the country, including the Hayward Gallery. He lives on the Kennet and Avon canal.

The Heeding is published by Elliott & Thompson on 17th June 2021.


[Disclaimer: The publishers very kindly sent me a proof copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I have received no payment for this review, and the thoughts are my own.]

Book Review: Gone by Michael Blencowe

Gone: A Search for What Remains of the World’s Extinct Creatures by Michael Blencowe

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Every child will probably have had an obsession with extinct creatures at some point. Most probably dinosaurs. Very likely they will also have been taught about the Dodo at school and maybe others.

Michael Blencowe’s obsession of species no longer with us, has transcended his childhood and in Gone he writes about a selection of these species that have held his imagination. Some, like the Dodo, will be familiar to the reader, others are less likely to be well known.

What stands out though is that in just about every case the reason, either directly or indirectly is the result of interaction by another species Homo sapiens.

This book is quite a short and quick read but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a powerful call to arms. It’s hard not to be drawn in by the authors knowledge of creatures no longer around or be struck by just how much humans have to answer for in our occupation of planet earth. Whilst the book focuses on just 11 lost (or probably lost) species ranging from mammals, to reptiles and birds it does also pick up on others and those who might well join the extinction list in the near future if our course remains uncorrected.

The book follows Blencowe’s journey in search of “what remains” of the 11 species and it is a search for remains. Those specimens that have been saved in museum collections and similar repositories around the world. In some cases whole specimens, in other cases just a bone or a feather. He journeys across the globe to museums large and small to view collections and “meet” with the creatures no longer with us. He also looks for those that are thought to be extinct but maybe hanging on.

It is well written and well researched with each lost species having it’s untimely demise catalogued. The author is at times self-deprecating in his approach but this belies what is an almost encyclopedic knowledge of many of these species.

There is humour, which helps to lift what might otherwise have been a quite dark set of stories, and the authors final foray in search of sea anemone is guaranteed to bring a smile to you face.

I wish that the book had been a little longer, it feels like some of the stories were a little brief but that might be to do with editorial constraints. The book is not explicitly a call to arms to prevent further species from meeting the same fate as those featured in it’s pages but I’d be surprised if you don’t come away from reading it thinking that you need to take a little personal action or accountability.

The whole book is wonderfully illustrated with linocuts produced by Jade They which bring those species that many of us will have never encountered before to life.


From the Publisher: Inspired by his childhood obsession with extinct species, Michael Blencowe takes us around the globe from the forests of New Zealand to the ferries of Finland, from the urban sprawl of San Francisco to an inflatable crocodile on Brighton’s Widewater lagoon. Spanning five centuries from the last sighting of New Zealand’s Upland Moa to the death of Lonesome George, the Pinta Island Giant Tortoise in 2012, his memoir is peppered with the accounts of the hunters and naturalists of the past as well as revealing conversations with the custodians of these totemic animals today.
With charm and insight he reveals what made these species unique; what their habits and habitats were; who discovered (or killed) them; what remains of them; and where we can view what survives of them today. He inspects the only known remains of a Huia egg at Te Papa, New Zealand; views hundreds of specimens of deceased Galapagos tortoises and Xerces Blue Butterflies in the California Academy of Sciences; and pays his respects to the only soft tissue remains of the Dodo in the world.
Warm, wry and thought-provoking, Gone shows that while each extinction story is different, all can inform how we live in the future.

About the Author: Michael Blencowe lives in West Sussex where he works and volunteers for a number of wildlife conservation charities, and writes for many local publications. He was co-author, with Neil Hulme, of The Butterflies of Sussex and has produced a factual insert on caterpillars for Julia Donaldson’s forthcoming children’s book, The Woolly Bear. During the first Lockdown he used the observations of nature in his own garden to produce the hugely popular 100 Day Wildlife Diary for the Sussex Wildlife Trust. He is a regular speaker at events.
His passion for wildlife began in his South Devon childhood where he first encountered tales of the last British Bird to be declared extinct, The Great Auk.

GONE: A Search for What Remains of the World’s Extinct Creatures by Michael Blencowe is published in hardback on 27th April 2021 by Leaping Hare Press at £18.99


[Disclaimer: The publishers very kindly sent me a proof copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I have received no payment for this review, and the thoughts are my own.]

Book Review: Vesper Flights by Helen Macdonald

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

This is a beautiful book, a joyous book but also a sad and thought provoking book. It is also possibly the best book that I will read this year, and I look forward to owning my own copy when it is published later this year.

This is a collection of stories from childhood through to adulthood and every place in between, stories from the UK and around the world. Each one is wonderful and unique in it’s own right and yet as a collection I don’t think I’ve ever come across one that is so well put together before. They are a nature insight, a personal story with feeling. Whether it is Golden Orioles or Fallow Deer, Swifts or Goat tipping (I’m not telling – you’ll have to read the book), these are all unique stories but instantly relatable.  Written with love and emotion; sometimes they make you smile, sometimes they make you cry and sometimes they send you off into your own personal rabbit hole about a particular species.

I savoured every story, I took my time reading and in some cases rereading a story, I learnt new things about species that I thought were familiar and new things about species I’ve never come across before. I was reminded about times I’ve had similar experiences and felt moved to go out and explore and experience something for myself.

I can’t recommend this book enough, whether you are drawn to natural history books or not this is worthy of your time and money and if you know someone who is into their natural history then this is probably the perfect gift for them.

Now I’ve finished reading, I want to go back and read the whole book again, although I will probably wait until I get my hands on a publication copy.

Vesper Flights is published on 27th August 2020 by Random House UK, Vintage

From the Publisher:

Animals don’t exist to teach us things, but that is what they have always done, and most of what they teach us is what we think we know about ourselves.

From the bestselling author of H is for Hawk comes Vesper Flights, a transcendent collection of essays about the human relationship to the natural world.

Helen Macdonald brings together a collection of her best-loved writing along with new pieces covering a thrilling range of subjects. There are essays here on headaches, on catching swans, on hunting mushrooms, on twentieth-century spies, on numinous experiences and high-rise buildings; on nests and wild pigs and the tribulations of farming ostriches.

Vesper Flights is a book about observation, fascination, time, memory, love and loss and how we make the world around us. Moving and frank, personal and political, it confirms Helen Macdonald as one of this century’s greatest nature writers.

Disclaimer: The publisher provided me with a free copy of this book via NetGalley in return for an honest review. No other payment has been received.

Book Review: The Book of Trespass by Nick Hayes

The Book of Trespass: Crossing the Line That Divide Us by Nick Hayes

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

We’ve probably all done it, whether our transgression has been inadvertent or deliberate but we’ve all been somewhere we shouldn’t have actually been I’d wager.

In the Book of Trespass, Nick Hayes sets out to document some of his adventures trespassing and the laws that surround this “crime”, whether it be from The Vagrancy Act, The Enclosures Act or the building of Walls such as the Great Wall of China, The Mexico Border Wall or even the non-existent wall between North & South Korea, the author covers this in detail. This is however taken at a level that everyone can understand. The law is ultimately complex but this book doesn’t descend into too much legalise or become a textbook on the act of trespassing, although it does way heavy on the page count at times.

Each chapter takes on the name of an animal (fox, dog, cockroach, hare – to name a few) and each chapter tackles a different aspect of trespass, linked to that animal. Beit from the Great Trespass on Kinder Scout, through to protest camps such as the Greenham Common and Heathrow Airport camps or “The Jungle” refugee camp in Calais, all are covered alongside the direct experiences of the author.

The book covers the heroes – such as Roger Deakin and the villains – such as Nicholas Van Hogstraten, when it comes to trespass or preventing legitimate access and many of these I was already familiar with.

It is however the authors own personal experiences that stood out for me in this book. It would have been easy to write a summary of trespass across the ages, but he has actually been out an experienced it first hand, and it is these first hand experiences that bring the book together and make it work so well. These tales settle amongst those tales of history and the relevant laws and rules and pull the book together to make it a fascinating read.

Does the author fall foul of those laws he sets out to break? Well I’m not telling, you’ll have to read the book yourself to find out, but the adventure and history are worth the read alone.


The Book of Trespass is published by Bloomsbury and will be available online and in all good bookshops from 20th August 2020.

What the Publisher Says:

A meditation on the fraught and complex relationship between land, politics and power, this is England through the eyes of a trespasser.

The vast majority of our country is entirely unknown to us because we are banned from setting foot on it. By law of trespass, we are excluded from 92 per cent of the land and 97 per cent of its waterways, blocked by walls whose legitimacy is rarely questioned. But behind them lies a story of enclosure, exploitation and dispossession of public rights whose effects last to this day.

The Book of Trespass takes us on a journey over the walls of England, into the thousands of square miles of rivers, woodland, lakes and meadows that are blocked from public access. By trespassing the land of the media magnates, Lords, politicians and private corporations that own England, Nick Hayes argues that the root of social inequality is the uneven distribution of land.

Weaving together the stories of poachers, vagabonds, gypsies, witches, hippies, ravers, ramblers, migrants and protestors, and charting acts of civil disobedience that challenge orthodox power at its heart, The Book of Trespass will transform the way you see England.

Disclaimer: The publisher provided me with a free copy of this book via NetGalley in return for an honest review. No other payment has been received.

Book Review: Walks With Sam by David W. Berner

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars.

Sam is a dog. A black golden doodle and on his walks with his owner David the two of them discover not just their local neighbourhood but also their feelings about it and some of the things that are going on in it.

This is no epic travel piece, it is a more sedate, local amble or series of ambles around Sam and David’s local “patch” which they discover they don’t know as well as they thought but by the end of the book know it and themselves much better.

This is a well written and captivating set of stories, each based around a walk experienced by human and hound. There are some of regulars, like the crazy man and others that they meet along the way. It is in part a journey of discovery with both partners at different times in their lives and in part about the actual journeys they take together.

If you liked Travels with Charley or Travels with Macy or similar stories then you are probable going to like Walks with Sam too.

Disclaimer: The publisher provided me with a free copy of this book via NetGalley in return for an honest review. No other payment has been received.

Book Review: “Into The Tangled Bank” by Lev Parikian

Into The Tangled Bank – In which our author ventures outdoors to consider the British in nature by Lev Parikian

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Lev Parikian takes us on a nature tour from lying on the pavement outside his house looking at a common blue butterfly to ringing birds on Skokholm island. As he points out “Nature means different things to different people”, and he covers all sorts of perspectives including his own and those of famous naturalists such as Charles Darwin, Gilbert White, Gavin Maxwell and John Clare along the way.

This is a well drawn tale of what nature means, it doesn’t go into a lot of heavy detail or tales of mass destruction and loss of species and habitats but nor is it a lightweight view either. It is well observed of nature, of naturalists and those that wouldn’t call themselves naturalists but are exposed to it everyday.

If you like your natural history with a little humour then you will enjoy this, what Bill Bryson did for the travel tale and the secrets of the universe, Lev Parikian might well do for the natural world. Learning how to catch Manx Shearwaters for ringing or the multi-modal uses of the average back garden all take the reader to see the more humourous side of nature.

I do have one gripe about this book however – the use of footnotes. They were heavily overused in the text and ultimately became quite distracting, constantly nipping to the bottom of the page to see what the little asterisks, cross or other reference point means. In my opinion many of these footnotes should have been incorporated into the main body of the text. They were relevant and would have added more there rather than being relegated to the bottom of the page, sometimes with three or four others, and with some pages that were more footnote that main text.


About the Author.

Lev Parikian is a birdwatcher, conductor and author of Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear? He lives in West Longon with his family who are getting used to his increasing enthusiasm for nautre. As a birdwatcher, his most prized sightings are a golden oriole in the Alpujarras and a black redstart at Dungeness Power Station.

Into the Tangled Bank – In which our author ventures outdoors to consider the British in Nature is published on 9th July 2020 by Elliott & Thompson at £14.99.


[Disclaimer: The publishers very kindly sent me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I have received no payment for this review, and the thoughts are my own.]

 

Book Review: The Cabinet of Calm by Paul Anthony Jones

The Cabinet of Calm by Paul Anthony Jones

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I’ve been aware of this author for a while, I have a number of his books on my shelves all of them packed full of words, their meanings and etymology.

The Cabinet of Calm is no exception, but it is also different for it is a collection of words to find solace in troubling times. Prescient then you might say, given that we’ve all been under some form of lockdown for a while and our futures have an amount of uncertainty in them. Given the lead in time for books though, that seems unlikely. (Although it is a question I did ask the author when we spoke (see below)).

As with all of this authors books, I come away having not just learnt new words, but also fascinated about their origins and some of the historical significance associated with them. In some cases wondering why they ever fell out of modern usage and why I’m reading about them for the first time. This is a book that you can read from cover to cover or pick up time and again and learn something new.

In The Cabinet of Calm there are words to soothe all manner of life’s stresses and tests, whether they be about your relationship, for grieving or just because you feel a little bit down or disappointed. There are words that you will never have heard of before, but may well find hard to forget. Whether they are words like Worldcraft – which is the knowledge you gain by living your life; or Zenobia – which derives from the third century and relates to impostor syndrome; this is book which will broaden your vocabulary and widen your knowledge of language and it’s origins. It will make you smile and chuckle and get a little slack-jawed with a “well I never”.

There are 51 words arranged in an A to Z but in each one there are even more words. Learn how storks feet relate to your pedigree (see the video below) and how you might term the different types of friend that you might have – jolly-dog, shop fellow, inkweaver – to name a few. There are words here that I will use again and again and the book is one that I will return to repeatedly. Everyone should have a copy of the Cabinet of Calm on their bookshelves, probably next to that dictionary and thesaurus you haven’t picked up for a while but will now be inspired to look at in a different way.

Bring The Cabinet of Calm into your lockdown world and have soul soothing home language lessons par excellence.

A Video Conference with Paul:

 

About the Author:

Paul has a Masters in Linguistics and is a language blogger from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. His obsession with words began with a child’s dictionary he received as a Christmas present when he was eight years old. As @HaggardHawks he has tweeted obscure words since 2013 and now has a social media following of over 75k, including the likes of JK Rowling, Robert Macfarlane, Susie Dent, Richard Osman, Greg Jenner, Ian McMillan, Rufus Sewell, Simon Mayo, Michael Rosen and Cerys Matthews.

HaggardHawks.com brings together the entire HH network including a blog, books, quizzes & games, the 500 Words YouTube series, Instagram gallery and newsletter. He regularly contributes to the media.

Cabinet of Calm – Soothing Words for Troubled Times:

Is published by Elliott & Thompson on 14th May 2020, at £12.99. Find your local independent bookshop by searching on the local bookshop finder.

The book has also been on a blog tour, and you can read other bloggers thoughts via the blog addresses below:

[Disclaimer: The publishers very kindly sent me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I have received no payment for this review, and the thoughts are my own.]