Book picks similar to
Copsford by Walter J.C. Murray


non-fiction
nature
memoir
natural-history

Risingtidefallingstar


Philip Hoare - 2017
    Of people enchanted or driven to despair by the water, accompanied by whales and birds and seals – familiar spirits swimming and flying with the author on his meandering odyssey from suburbia into the unknown.Along the way, he encounters drowned poets and eccentric artists, modernist writers and era-defining performers, wild utopians and national heroes – famous or infamous, they are all surprisingly, and sometimes fatally, linked to the sea.Out of the storm-clouds of the twenty-first century and our restive time, these stories reach back into the past and forward into the future. This is a shape-shifting world that has never been certain, caught between the natural and unnatural, where the state between human and animal is blurred. Time, space, gender and species become as fluid as the sea.Here humans challenge their landbound lives through art or words or performance or myth, through the animal and the elemental. And here they are forever drawn back to the water, forever lost and found on the infinite sea.

Under the Rock: The Poetry of a Place


Benjamin Myers - 2018
    To many it is unremarkable; to others it is a doomed place where 18th-century thieves hid out, where the town tip once sat, and where suicides leapt to their deaths. Its brooding form presided over the early years of Ted Hughes, who called Scout Rock 'my spiritual midwife . . . both the curtain and backdrop to existence'.Into this beautiful, dark and complex landscape steps Benjamin Myers, asking: are unremarkable places made remarkable by the minds that map them? Seeking a new life and finding solace in nature's power of renewal, Myers excavates stories both human and elemental. The result is a lyrical and unflinching investigation into nature, literature, history, memory and the meaning of place in modern Britain.UNDER THE ROCK is about badgers, balsam, history, nettles, mythology, moorlands, mosses, poetry, bats, wild swimming, slugs, recession, floods, logging, peacocks, community, apples, asbestos, quarries, geology, industrial music, owls, stone walls, farming, anxiety, relocation, the North, woodpiles, folklore, landslides, ruins, terriers, woodlands, ravens, dales, valleys, walking, animal skulls, trespassing, crows, factories, maps, rain - lots of rain - and a great big rock.'A bone-tingling book' -- Richard Benson, author of The Valley and The Farm“Extraordinary, elemental … never less than compelling: this is a wild, dark grimoire of a book” – The Times Literary Supplement 'The writing is perfectly poised and seductive, luminous, an earthy immersion into the granular dark of place. The prose has an intense, porous quality, inhabiting the reader right from the stunning start with the voices of rock, earth, wood and water. This is a truly elemental read from which I emerged subtly changed. The writing has a shamanic quality; Benjamin Myers is a writer of exceptional talent and originality ... it has all the makings of a classic' -- Miriam Darlington, author of Otter Country and Owl Sense“Compelling … admirable and engrossing. Myers writes of the rain with a poet’s eye worthy of Hughes” – Erica Wagner, New Statesman'One of the many joys of Under the Rock - this absorbing, compelling, moving book - is its language; it trickles like a rivulet, thunders like a cataract, and sticks to you like mud. It is full of crannies and dips and peaks wherein wonders hide; explore it for a lifetime and you will not exhaust its mysteries. Unafraid of blood-drenched history and the darkest of despair, this is nonetheless a defiantly life-praising book; it accompanied me to bed and bar, train and plane, and each situation was enriched and brightened by its presence... . It is utterly vital' -- Niall Griffiths, author of Grits, Sheepshagger and Stump'Richly layered, densely and elegantly structured, discursive, elegiac and beautiful. Under the Rock is a stunning exploration of place, mind and myth' -- Jenn Ashworth, author of Fell and The Friday Gospels“Prodigious, awe-incurring … few are as impressive as the formidable Benjamin Myers, who has developed a voice as pure and authentic as it is stark, honest and resolutely northern … creates an overall sense of dreamy, quiet beauty, born of love for the lie of the land.” – The Big Issue “Compelling … an atmospheric exploration of the landscape and its history” – Irish Times“A visionary work of immense power and subtlety which establishes Myers as one of Britain’s most consistently interesting and gifted writers” – Morning Star 'Place-writing at its most supple: both deeply considered, and deeply felt' -- Melissa Harrison, author of Rain: Four Walks in English Weather“Best known for his bleak and brilliant crime fiction Myers turns his focus to nature writing with absorbing results in this lyrical exploration of Scout Rock in Yorkshire’s Calder Valley” – i-news, Best Books to Take on Holiday 2018“Exceptionally engaging … beguiling … this is a startling, unclassifiable book” – Stuart Kelly, The Scotsman“Thoughtful, engaging and beautifully crafted … the writing is lyrical yet muscular and elemental, transporting the reader to this plaece of rugged beauty and dark secrets” – The Yorkshire Post “[A] beautifully poetic, passionate and elegiac book … Myers’ writing left me with a heart-wrenching desire to be there” – Harry Gallon, Minor Literatures'What distinguishes Under the Rock is Myers' unshakeable commitment. He writes at all times with rock-solid conviction, fashioning a book which is less a work of simple description than a new contribution to the mythology of Elmet' -- Will Ashon, author of Strange Labyrinth, Clear Water and The Heritage'I have become a Benjamin Myers junkie in the last 12 months . . . Myers' place-writing is as good as anything being scrawled in Britain today' - Horatio Clare, author of Down to the Sea in Ships and Orison for a Curlew“Terrific… It’s a book which doesn’t just discuss or describe landscape, but immerses you within it… if this doesn’t put Ben Myers on everyone’s radar then I don’t know what will” – Daniel Carpenter, Bookmunch“An author to adopt as your own, a book to turn others on to ... boy does it rock” – Cally Callomon, Caught by the River“A daring new work … make[s] the unremarkable truly remarkable. It’s a work that is focused on landscape and place and is another step on this special writer cementing himself as more than just a cult favourite” – Narc Magazine“An extraordinary blend of power, poetry and grit … Benjamin Myers has made his rock sing” – Richard Littledale, The Preacher’s Blog“Myers’ prose is outstanding” – Marcel Krueger, Hong Kong Review of Books“Under the Rock is the most beautifully written non-fiction book… There is an extremely powerful sense of place. I was fully immersed in the landscape, the water, the woods, the rock. Lyrical, powerful, engaging, moving and fascinating. Highly recommended” – The Book Corner, Halifax

Drifting into Darien: A Personal and Natural History of the Altamaha River


Janisse Ray - 2011
    Tucked in a life preserver, she washed onto a sandbar as the craft sank from view. That first baptism began a lifelong relationship with a stunning and powerful river that almost nobody knows.The Altamaha rises dark and mysterious in southeast Georgia. It is deep and wide bordered by swamps. Its corridor contains an extraordinary biodi­versity, including many rare and endangered species, which led the Nature Conservancy to designate it as one of the world’s last great places.The Altamaha is Ray’s river, and from childhood she dreamed of paddling its entire length to where it empties into the sea. Drifting into Darien begins with an account of finally making that journey, turning to medita­tions on the many ways we accept a world that contains both good and evil. With praise, biting satire, and hope, Ray contemplates transformation and attempts with every page to settle peacefully into the now.Though commemorating a history that includes logging, Ray celebrates “a culture that sprang from the flatwoods, which required a judicious use of nature.” She looks in vain for an ivorybill woodpecker but is equally eager to see any of the imperiled species found in the river basin: spiny mussel, American oystercatcher, Radford’s mint, Alabama milkvine. The book explores both the need and the possibilities for conservation of the river and the surrounding forests and wetlands. As in her groundbreaking Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, Ray writes an account of her beloved river that is both social history and natural history, understanding the two as inseparable, particularly in the rural corner of Georgia that she knows best. Ray goes looking for wisdom and finds a river.

The Gerbil Farmer's Daughter: A Memoir


Holly Robinson - 2008
    Soon the Annapolis-trained Navy commander was breeding gerbils and writing about them for publications ranging from the ever-bouncy Highlights for Children to the erudite Science News. To support his burgeoning business, the family eventually settled on a remote hundred-acre farm with horses, sheep, pygmy goats, peacocks?and nearly nine thousand gerbils.From part-time model for her father?s bestselling pet book, How to Raise and Train Pet Gerbils, to full-time employee in the gerbil empire?s complex of prefab Sears buildings, Holly was an enthusiastic if often exasperated companion on her father?s quest to breed the perfect gerbil. Told with heart, humor, and affection, The Gerbil Farmer?s Daughter is Holly?s ode to a weird and wonderful upbringing and her truly one-of-a-kind father.

Mountain City


Gregory Martin - 2000
    The town's abandoned mines are testimony to the cycle of promise, exploitation, abandonment, and attrition that has been the repeated story of the West. Yet the comings and goings at Tremewan's, the general store Martin's family has run for more than forty years, reveal a remarkably vibrant community that includes salty widows, Native Americans from a nearby reservation, and a number of Martin's deeply idiosyncratic Basque-descended relatives. Martin observes them as they persist in a difficult but rewarding existence and celebrates, with neither pity nor regret, the large and small dramas of their lives and their stubborn attachment to a place that seems likely to disappear in his lifetime.

The Peregrine: The Hill of Summer Diaries: The Complete Works of J. A. Baker


J.A. Baker - 2011
    A. Baker’s extraordinary classic of British nature writing.Despite the association of peregrines with the wild, outer reaches of the British Isles, The Peregrine is set on the flat marshes of the Essex coast, where J A Baker spent a long winter looking and writing about the visitors from the uplands – peregrines that spend the winter hunting the huge flocks of pigeons and waders that share the desolate landscape with them.Including original diaries from which The Peregrine was written and its companion volume The Hill of Summer, this is a beautiful compendium of lyrical nature writing at its absolute best.Such luminaries as Richard Mabey, Robert Macfarlane, Ted Hughes and Andrew Motion have cited this as one of the most important books in 20th Century nature writing, and the bestselling author Mark Cocker has provided an introduction on the importance of Baker, his writings and the diaries – creating the essential volume of Baker's writings.Since the hardback was published in 2010, papers, maps, and letters have come to light which in turn provide a little more background into J A Baker’s history. Contemporaries – particularly from while he was at school in Chelmsford – have kindly provided insights, remembering a school friend who clearly made an impact on his generation. In the longer term, there is hope of an archive of these papers being established, but in the meantime, and with the arrival of this paperback edition, there is a chance to reveal a little more of what has been learned.Among fragments of letters to Baker was one from a reader who praised a piece that Baker had written in RSPB Birds magazine in 1971. Apart from a paper on peregrines which Baker wrote for the Essex Bird Report, this article – entitled On the Essex Coast – appears to be his only other published piece of writing, and, with the kind agreement of the RSPB, it has been included in this updated new paperback edition of Baker’s astounding work.

One Life at a Time, Please


Edward Abbey - 1987
    From stories about cattlemen, fellow critics, his beloved desert, cities, and technocrats to thoughts on sin and redemption, this is one of our most treasured writers at the height of his powers.

Pondlife: A Swimmer's Journal


Al Álvarez - 2013
    For the best part of his life Al Alvarez - poet, critic, novelist, rock-climber and poker player - has swum in them almost daily. An athlete in his youth, Alvarez, now in his eighties, chronicles what it is to grow old with humour and fierce honesty - from his relentlessly nagging ankle which makes daily life a struggle, to infuriating bureaucratic battles with the council to keep his disabled person's Blue Badge, the devastating effects of a stroke, and the salvation he finds in the three Ss - Swimming, Sex and Sleep.As Alvarez swims in the ponds he considers how it feels when you begin to miss that person you used to be - to miss yourself. Swimming is his own private form of protest against the onslaught of time; proof to others, and himself, that he's not yet beaten. By turns funny, poetic and indignant, "Pondlife" is a meditation on love, the importance of life's small pleasures and, above all, a lesson in not going gently in to that good night.

All the Strange Hours: The Excavation of a Life


Loren Eiseley - 1975
    It was in pursuit of this interest, and in the expression of his natural curiosity and wonder, that Eiseley sprang to national fame with the publication of such works as The Immense Journey and The Firmament of Time. In All the Strange Hours, Eiseley turns his considerable powers of reflection and discovery on his own life to weave a compelling story, related with the modesty, grace, and keen eye for a telling anecdote that distinguish his work. His story begins with his childhood experiences as a sickly afterthought, weighed down by the loveless union of his parents. From there he traces the odyssey that led to his search for early postglacial man—and into inspiriting philosophical territory—culminating in his uneasy achievement of world renown. Eiseley crafts an absorbing self-portrait of a man who has thought deeply about his place in society as well as humanity’s place in the natural world.

The Ring of Bright Water Trilogy


Gavin Maxwell - 2000
    A haven for wildlife - he named his home Camusfearna and settled there with the otters Mij, Edal and Teko.Ring of Bright Water chronicles Gavin Maxwell's first ten years with the otters and touched the hearts of readers the world over, brilliantly evoking life with these playful animals in this natural paradise. Two further volumes followed bringing the story full circle telling of the difficult last years and the final abandonment of the settlement.For the first time the entire trilogy is available in a single narrative in this beautifully presented book.

Listening Point


Sigurd F. Olson - 1958
    Olson brings to his writing a native’s perception of the north country and the happy gift of making readers participate in his appreciation of trees and plants and animals." Atlantic Monthly

The Old Man and the Swamp: A True Story About My Weird Dad, a Bunch of Snakes, and One Ridiculous Road Trip


John Sellers - 2011
    And I have nothing against my dad, given the same set of conditions. In a fit of questionable judgment, consummate indoorsman John Sellers tags along on a journey to search for snakes with his eccentric, aging father—an obsessive fan of Bob Dylan, a giver of terrible gifts, a drinker of boxed wine, a minister- turned-heretic, and, most importantly, the self-designated guardian of the threatened copperbelly water snake.The quest is their fumbling attempt to reconnect. Decades of bitterness, substance abuse, acrimonious divorce, and divergent opinions about personal hygiene have conspired to make the two estranged. Sellers has just begun to develop a new appreciation for the American wilderness, and all the slithering creatures that populate it, when his father’s deteriorating health thwarts their mission and disturbs their tentative peace. Determined to finish what they started, he ventures back into the swamp— alone, but more connected to his dad than ever. With big-hearted humor and irreverence, The Old Man and the Swamp tells the story of a father who always lived on his own terms and the son who struggled to make sense of it all.

The Salt House


Cynthia Huntington - 1999
    Each chapter is like a prose poem, shedding increasing light on the challenge of finding "home" without the illusion of permanence, a quest based not on ownership but on affinity and familiarity with an area and its people. Cynthia Huntington expands her theme through images of the landscape, the shack, the new marriage.The shack, named "Euphoria," is built as a house set on stilts above the sand, to take the wind under it. Only a partial shelter, it is inhabited for only one season a year, yet it endures. The outer cape has the feel of a place for migrants and drifters -- for birds and other wildlife, and for people such as artists, fishermen, and coast guardsmen. A place where "year-round" often means several addresses. Similarly, her narrative describes improvised, fragile beginnings: a new marriage, learning to be at home in the world, becoming intimate with the natural world, without the necessity of settling down. The Salt House shares a world that is less natural history or memoir than it is neighborhood exploration -- the process of learning a place and becoming native to it.

John Chancellor Makes Me Cry


Anne Rivers Siddons - 1975
    Moving from memories of her gentle grandfather to her uncanny ability to attract stray animals, Siddons' intimate stories of her family are graced with the same poetic lilt and vibrant detail that have so wonderfully served her novels. For all those who know and love her works of fiction, John Chancellor Makes Me Cry is a glorious and thoroughly entertaining treat.

The Rural Life


Verlyn Klinkenborg - 2003
    His yearlong meditation on the rigors and wonders of country life -- encompassing memories of his family's Iowa homestead, time spent in the wide-open spaces of the American West, and his experiences on the small farm in upstate New York where he lives with his wife -- abounds with vicarious pleasures for the reader as it indelibly records and celebrates the everyday beauty of the world we inhabit. "In a voice reminiscent of E.B. White, Klinkenborg paints a picture of a fading world in colors that are solid and authentic. His joy is evident throughout." --Los Angeles Times