Week 3: (November 16-20) – Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert (Rennie  @ What’s Nonfiction): Three ways to join in this week! You can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert).

I’ve decided for this one to do a Be the Expert/Become the Expert on Rewilding! I have read a few books on this topic and have more to read on my TBR. I have gained great solace from nature during this difficult year, glad that I have manicured local parks, well kept canal towpaths with wild hedges and more liminal places in the backs of parks and greenways to enjoy as a counterpoint to sheltering safe at home. I even grew some vegetables in the garden, with varying results, this summer!

Be the expert …

I have read three books on Rewilding so far, one that looks into the background and science of it all and two personal ones.

Paul Jepson & Cain Blyth – “Rewilding: The Radical New Science of Ecological Recovery” was a recent read that looked at the theories and science as well as practices around rewilding, with their main finding being that it was reintroducing large herbivores – as opposed to charismatic carnivores – into landscapes that redressed habitat and species loss. Read my review here.

Nick Baker – “Rewild” was a book I read and reviewed back in 2017 and inspired my interest in the topic – he has loads of ideas for fun ways to reconnect yourself to nature, including going out in the proper dark with no torch and letting your eyes readjust to the moonlight and starlight. Read my review here with a link to my review on Shiny New Books.

Simon Barnes – “Rewild Yourself” I read this year with my best friend. Short and accessible chapters look at various ways you can again reconnect with nature, from learning the names of a few trees to visiting iconic nature reserves in the UK. Read my review here.

Other books which have involved reconnection with nature and rewilding oneself have included Lev Parikian’s “Into the Tangled Bank” (review here) and Nick Hayes’ “The Book of Trespass” (here), although they’re not about rewilding habitats as such.

… become the expert

I have a few books on the topic of rewilding as such or adapting oneself to one’s natural surroundings on my TBR shelf.

Simon Barnes (again) has written “On the Marsh” about his purchase of the marsh near his home to protect it from being built on. It proves a boon for his whole family as they watch it sustain itself and observe its life.

Isabella Tree’s “Wilding” is a classic in this area and treats her experiment in letting her farm go (I think) completely wild and the burgeoning of wildlife that happens. There’s also a book around called “Rebirding” that I bought my best friend for her birthday and want to pick up for myself. And “Bring Back the Beaver” by Derek Gow, which HalfManHalfBook has reviewed here.

Neither of these, as far as I know, involve introducing megafauna herbivores, but are smaller, quieter ways of doing things (although they involve purchasing or owning land). Sort of a middle way between the big projects and the very personal stuff.

And then these two are more about settling in to you natural environment and adapting yourself to it.

In “Homesick”, Catriona Davies moves semi-legally into a shed when she cannot find affordable housing. Partly about how she came into that situation and partly about how she creates a living space, it’s also about how she lives within the landscape.

Mike Parker’s “On the Red Hill” looks at two gay couples in rural Wales, one inheriting a house from the other, and on settling into the rural environment, both people and land, as they see a year round.

Most of these books are coming up on the TBR quite soon so watch out for my reviews, or I’ll report back in November 2021!

And did I become the expert I wished to in 2019?

I did also look back on my take on this topic last year. I chose four books on birdwatching that I felt were going to help me to become an expert on the sociology of the hobby, if not the hobby itself. I read all of these (or parts of them in one case) this year.

Alex Horne – “Birdwatchingwatching: One Year, Two Men, Three Rules, Ten Thousand Birds” – loved this book about going birdwatching with his dad, which had a lot of lovely detail about the process.

Joe Harkness – “Bird Therapy” – about the therapeutic nature of birdwatching, a super read, very moving and also informative.

Mark Cocker – “Birders: Tales of a Tribe” – I didn’t really take to this one as it was from the snobbier-feeling ending of birdwatching, looking down on amateurs. I did learn some terminology from the part I did read.

Stephen Moss – “A Bird in the Bush: A Social History of Birdwatching” – A detailed and exhaustive but also inclusive and supportive history and sociology of birdwatching from ancient times until now. I really enjoyed this.

I think I did become a bit expert in this area and although I’ve gone on to read some more books on birds and will continue to do so, not sure I need any more on the sociology side of it all!