The Lost Rainforests of Britain

I’d had my eye on this book for a while. Lovely cover and the natural world is of great interest. I finally decided to dive into it prompted by a wild camping trip to Dartmoor. I had suspected there would be some overlap although I didn’t realise just how much overlap there would be. Several places I walked through were name-checked heavily in the book and this enhanced both the trip and the read. 

This book is an impassioned, wise and delicately written account of how we have destroyed our natural landscape. It is a plea to restore the temperate rainforests of Britain that many people don’t even realise exist. It is an attempt to correct the shifting baselines of the masses. 

Impressively researched and, for a book that goes into lichen and moss to quite a significant degree, actually really readable for the layman. I can draw similarities to The Book of Trespass in its efficient, clear and powerful message. A good book to read at any time. Even more so if one is doing so while camping out in the wilds of Dartmoor! 

The Killing Floor

I’ve heard a lot about these books over the years. One of the things I know is that there are lots of them, hence my slight reluctance in diving into a big franchise. This first book grabbed me though and I must say I can now see what all the hype is about. I had almost expected it to be a bit trashy and simplistic. What I uncovered was a sophisticated, interesting, well written and well paced thriller. 

It seems as if it has created a bit of a niche for itself. Part detective novel, part action thriller. A combination that is melded into a hugely enjoyable read and one that means I will be steadily working my through these books. 

Four Thousand Weeks

I don’t usually do self help books but this one kept popping up on my radar either in book shops or online for some reason. Eventually I caved and picked it up. Little did I realise it may as well have been written specifically for me. 

Based on the average number of weeks we live through in our lifetimes, it takes the reader through the pitfalls of focusing too much on the future, of unachievable goals and of packing their lives with the work that might be required to get there. It goes on to give some sage but hard advice about the ways in which one might cut things out and optimise things in order to live in the moment a bit more. 

I took away a few lessons although I would say that such a book is unavoidably general. Some of the advice might seem as if it applies to the reader at points but I suppose one must also not take everything to literally. Everyone’s life has nuances that mean that seeking out goals, even if they are seemingly unachievable, might still be the right path to take. To be read and analysed with caution I would say. 

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair

I had picked up one of his other books which looked quite good but I thought I would read this first as it was one of his earlier books and had good reviews. I loved it. This is a real gem. Following the story of a frustrated novelist trying to write his second book, he finds out his mentor has become embroiled in a murder scandal and he sets out to prove him innocent and to simultaneously write his masterpiece in the process. 

The setting for this novel is part of its biggest appeals to me – the New England small town vibe drew me right in. Not to mention the depiction of a writer’s lifestyle which obviously appeals to me greatly too. The story, the characters, the twists and turns and the way it is all wrapped up make it a proper novel. It’s right up there for me and I would highly recommend. 

The Future of Geography

A really interesting exploration of what we can expect in the next couple of decades in terms of space exploration and what that means for geopolitics. Exciting and disturbing in equal measure. Makes you realise how many paths we could find ourselves going down in the near future. 

The Secret Network of Nature

An interesting account of nature’s symbiotic tendencies that is obviously well informed. There are some excellent titbits in there; things that I didn’t know and that were genuinely interesting. However, it’s a bit tree heavy and at times it slightly loses its way in terms of direction and purpose. In fairness to him, it is translated from German and this definitely comes across. I hadn’t realised this at first and was taken aback by how much it reads like a primary school project. Once you get past that, it’s alright but there’s better books out there. 

Jews Don’t Count

A short book, almost essay form. It’s an interesting angle on how we look at racism and how perhaps people do treat different versions of racism hierarchically. It is very well argued, although I’m not sure Baddiel helps himself on occasions with his tone. He is very accusatory and uses some examples here which, in some quarters, might be viewed as too sensitive, thereby undermining his argument which I wholeheartedly get and agree with.

I’ve heard him talk on this book too and he comes across to me as a strongly opinionated individual who meets even a hint of disagreement, with a type of stubborn condescension. Which again, I don’t think helps his cause. Still. A very good and a very important book.   

The Way of Kings

I don’t usually read fantasy books but, having read another title a while back, I’ve had a bit of a hankering. However, most of them, this one being no exception, are a bit of investment in terms of time. In other words, they’re all pretty epic. So I did my research on this one. Having said that I was still hesitant about diving into something like this. 

I had nothing to worry about. I was enthralled by this book. It is fantastical, sprawling, otherwordley, inventive, and wise. But more than that, it was just written brilliantly well. I am unlucky enough to have read Game of Thrones – a tedious, slow, at times shocking and ultimately a bit bleak as a set of books.

This first of several books is opposite to that in almost every way. It is very long but at no point was I counting the pages to the end. It flowed superbly and I was quite taken aback by how much I liked it. The only problem is, I’m not sure anything else will be able to follow this within the fantasy genre, aside from its sequels of course. 

I got this after some research as I was hankering for something along the same lines and, crucially, as good as The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. 

While this was good, it didn’t reach the heights of the aforementioned. It feels as if it needed a few more rounds of editing. The details seem a bit chaotic and muddled at points and it wasn’t quite as clever as the cover and testimonials might suggest. It betrays the author’s legal background as well. It is written from the perspective of one character but the direction of much of the dialogue contrives to fall back on quite detailed legal theory in situations where it simply wouldn’t happen in reality. Which does break the fourth wall somewhat. 

Still, perhaps I’m being a bit harsh. It was a fun read and certainly not the worst book I’ve ever read. While it didn’t quite hit the mark that propels it into the same league as Stuart Turton’s first novel, it’s still worth a read.