“Enter the wood with care, my love, Lest you are pulled down by the hue, Lost in the depths, drowned in blue.” Blue bell from The Lost Words.
I would just like to start off with how happy I am that Kayleigh of Liznojan Bookshop took the time to write this blog post for our expand your knowledge series! I am sadly not based in Tiverton, however the Liznojan website is beautiful, just like the mother and daughter team who run it and like the pictures I’ve seen of the shop. I hope you enjoy this piece on their favourite nature reads as much as I did!
Nature books are what we love here at Liznojan Bookshop in Tiverton, Devon. Liznojan is actually Proto-germanic for ‘Learn or walking the path of knowledge’, a philosophical discovery which we think suits our collection here. Recommending 5 nature books is no mean feat for a bookshop owner. I have had to whittle it down from 20 books, many classics by Nan Shepard, Robert Macfarlane, John Muir, John Lewis-Stemple and many others. I have however, tried to categorise and choose newer books (bar one) in the hopes to introduce some new writers to your repitoire.
Children’s Nature book The Lost Words is a big favourite of ours. Not only is the poetry written by Robert Macfarlane but the illustrations are stunning, from the magical Jackie Morris. A beautiful collaboration from author and illustrator has created the most important children’s book of our time. The book is a collection of natural words which were recently removed from the Children’s dictionary because they are not amongst modern vocabulary. How Acorn and Bramble are not used by children anymore is beyond me. This book however has gone ‘viral’ in the real world. Various counties in England and the entirety of Scotland have crowd-funded in the attempt to get a copy of this book in every primary school. If you haven’t heard of this book yet you should have, there is an audio version which is just as delicious for the ears plus an album being created with Concert dates over February 2019. For £20, this is the book you will keep forever, because it is also being used in Care Homes to aid with memory loss and recognition. Just beautiful.
Waymaking, an anthology of women’s adventure writing, poetry and art. I Am A mum of two and I just don’t get the time to read through slow paced books. I love inspiring books I can delve into at times of rest and nourish myself again. This book is written by women inspired by previous female adventure/nature writers. A genre historically dominated by men, it is a breath of fresh air to read writings from such talented women. Ideas and thoughts on images, personal history and moments in nature with glorious poetry intertwined so you can open to any page.
“The human woman peels away the layers. Jacket. Jumper. Gender. Class. Something like an onion, slipping loose of skins; the stitches of each drape, dissolving; identity itself unfastened, shimmied out of like a skirt and left at the side of the lake…”. Aqueous, Man Jones.
Now an inspiring book of how nature can heal even the most traumatic moments of our lives , when we think nothing will ever help. Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. Most of us have read it and the rest have watched the film starring Reese Witherspoon. If you have watched the film you now need to read the book. I literally wanted to pack my bags and walk the PCT up America to Canada. Even with her blistered feet, loneliness, fear and desperation, I still want to walk it and experience what she experienced. Though with new technologies I doubt it will ever be as isolated as it was in the ‘90’s. For personal inspiration and the ‘I can do anything’ feeling, read Wild.
This next book is beautiful, it’s the book you would have facing out on your bookcase just so people ask about it. Another book of inspiration for the traveller in you, Spiritual Places, helps you discover destinations that will be a balm to the mind and a tonic to the soul. The perfect gift for a kindred spirit so you can go travelling together. The language used to describe these places is flowing and magical, Sarah Baxter really pulls you through her mind to immerse you in the story of these sacred locations and their surroundings. Read one before bed and find your dreams centred around folk lore and legends.
“..Mount Kailash- isolated, unmistakable, enormous- erupting from the plateau like a rock-hewn temple, gilded in snow. You shiver, not only because of the cold air but also because of Kailash itself: physically formidable, spiritually unmatched.” Mount Kailash, Sarah Baxter.
Finally, another beautiful book, I swear I don’t just choose them because of the illustrations. Around the world in 80 Trees by Jonathan Drori. He fluidly intertwines his knowledge of plant science with folklore, human stories and tree antics. I just love the exoticness of this book, it takes me to far away places and nearby lands just by turning a page. I thrive on small snippets of knowledge about nature, intriguing and astonishing stories passed down the ages. Why some trees can help fight disease while others help spirits to move on, some heal the soil and earth while others signify mourning or loss. Trees , completely undervalued by humans, are so much more than oxygen makers or wood providers. Immerse yourself into this book, trust me.
If you’re based in or around Tiverton then make sure you pop into Liznojan Bookshop its such a beautiful space with a marvellous selection of books!
Much love x