by Kathleen Jamie

Superb nature and landscape essays.


I'm not at all sure how this book managed to escape my attention for an entire seven years after its publication: it is exactly the sort of book (nature, landscape, essays) that I read by the shelf-load, but it had never even registered as a blip on my radar. Slap on the wrist, Amazon Recommendations! What else aren't you telling me about?

Findings is one of the best books I have read for years. It is hard to categorise: books of nature writing do not usually contain accounts of surgery museums, the Edinburgh rooftops, or a husband's life-threatening fever, yet the individual essays fit together wonderfully.

There are two things I particularly like about Kathleen Jamie's writing style: she writes as a non-expert, almost thinking out loud, admitting when she is not sure about something; and, for a poet, she is remarkably dispassionate in her observations. When she encounters a dead gannet, her immediate thought is to cut its head off, so that she can have a cool trophy for her study. The decapitation turns out to be not such a good idea.

Take my word for it: this is a fantastic book. Go and buy it.

Update (October 2013): Since writing the above, I have re-read this book several times. Seriously magnificent.

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