I’ve been reading this one for a while, having picked up a copy for myself when I ordered one for my best friend, Emma, for her last birthday. I sort of had it in mind that we might read it together, and that’s indeed what we’ve been doing over quite a chunk of Lockdown. In fact, I just checked, and we started reading it (and sent the photos to each other that I saved as a screenshot; I can’t believe how short my hair is there!) on 19 May, and we finished it on 27 August. We didn’t read it every Thursday evening, but many Thursday evenings, with Messenger on but not a video call, and we both agree that it was a lovely link to each other and a really nice, slow way to read a book we might have rushed through on our own.

Simon Barnes – “Rewild Yourself”

(11 October 2019)

A great book made up of short chapters on how to (re)introduce yourself to nature – starting with the ever-important purchase of a pair of waterproof trousers. There are odd chapter quotes from Lewis and Tolkien which I found a bit disruptive but were obviously important to the author, and lovely illustrations.

Easy-win plants, birds and trees and traces of animals passing by are described, allowing the reader to feel they are getting somewhere. There are lovely descriptions and things I didn’t know as well as those I did, including the fact that seals doze vertically “like a vast bottle” and male blue tits have an ultraviolet crest that allows them to identify each other but is invisible of course to us.

It’s funny on birders, reassuring the reader that they won’t be taken for a ‘proper’ birder unless they have the right equipment:

Birders are as good at identifying each other as they are at identifying a drake smew from the opposite side of the reservoir. (p. 73)

There’s some trespassing on the water with a man in a green polo shirt stopping their progress which (Bookish Beck coincidence alert) reminded me at the time of Nick Hayes’ “The Book of Trespass” which I was reading for Shiny New Books at the time. Barnes does criticise runners, however only seemingly the ones who think they’re out in nature when they’re immersed in the music from their headphones, and I can smugly say I don’t do that (mainly because I wear headphones a lot for work) and do have a lovely time listening to bird song and stopping to peer at naturey stuff when I’m out running.

A good book full of great ideas that can be done very easily, and perfect for a relaxed readalong.