Two excellent books which the lovely Elliot & Thompson Books have been kind enough to send me to review for Shiny New Books. Here are some of my more personal thoughts about them with links to the longer reviews. I will say right out here that both of these would make excellent Christmas presents for the booky or nature-loving person in your life.

Stephen Rutt – “Wintering”

This book about geese made me a bit obsessed with geese. In fact, around reading it, I both spotted a fairly rare goose (a bar-headed) in one of our local parks and got excited by the tall, muscular-necked white geese in another park before realising they were … farmyard geese. To be fair, I don’t go to many farmyards.

Anyway, this book concentrates on the migrants who spent part of their time in the UK and Rutt goes around the country to see them all, ranging around different topics as he goes through each bird in its chapter. He’s also settling in to a new life in Scotland, helped by these great creatures.

On seeing his first skein whipping across the sky, Rutt adds these large and not always elegant birds to his totems – including the first chiffchaff of spring and the final swift of summer’s end. Each chapter after the introduction is named after one of the breeds he looks into, but roams around the topic. At the end of the book, the spring comes back round, and once he hears the chiffchaff he knows that the geese will be leaving – although of course they’ll be back, living long lives and enjoying returning to the same spots.

Read my full review here.

Tom Mole – “The Secret Life of Books”

Out now in paperback, this attractive book will be getting a new set of fans. Essays on the book as an object rather than its contents delve into all sorts of areas.

I felt seen on p.3 when I came across a reference, in the chapter Book/Book, in a section about the way people shelve their books, to “the ones [the professor] had finished reading but not yet shelved somewhere,” as I have only just the other week cleared down four tall piles of books in this category from my own desk! There are many other little chimes of recognition for the booky person in the book, even though we’re only talking about books as objects here.

Like “Wintering” we get a lot of different topics covered in each section and there’s much to enjoy and think about, especially around the longevity of the printed page, even in a digital age.

Read my full review here.