From the acclaimed author of The Old Ways and Landmarks -- an essay on the beauty and joy of reading, for anyone who has ever loved a book
Every book is a kind of gift to its reader, and the act of giving books is charged with a special emotional resonance. It is a meeting of three minds (the giver, the author, the recipient), an exchange of intellectual and psychological currency, that leaves both participants the richer. Here Robert Macfarlane recounts the story of a book he was given as a young man, and how he managed eventually to return the favour, though never repay the debt.
From one of the most lyrical writers of our time comes a perfectly formed gem, a lyrical celebration of the power and preciousness of the given book.
SHORTLISTED FOR THE SAMUEL JOHNSON PRIZE 2015
SHORTLISTED FOR THE WAINWRIGHT PRIZE 2016
Landmarks is Robert Macfarlane's joyous meditation on words, landscape and the relationship between the two - now available in a beautiful new Winter edition for Christmas
Words are grained into our landscapes, and landscapes are grained into our words. Landmarks is about the power of language to shape our sense of place. It is a field guide to the literature of nature, and a glossary containing thousands of remarkable words used in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales to describe land, nature and weather. Travelling from Cumbria to the Cairngorms, and exploring the landscapes of Roger Deakin, J. A. Baker, Nan Shepherd and others, Robert Macfarlane shows that language, well used, is a keen way of knowing landscape, and a vital means of coming to love it.
Praise for Robert Macfarlane:
'He has a poet's eye and a prose style that will make many a novelist burn with envy' John Banville, Observer
"I'll read anything Macfarlane writes" David Mitchell, Independent
'Every movement needs stars. In [Macfarlane] we surely have one, burning brighter with each book.' Telegraph '[Macfarlane] is a godfather of a cultural moment' Sunday Times
WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY ROBERT MACFARLANE
Lopez’s journey across our frozen planet is a celebration of the Arctic in all its guises. A hostile landscape of ice, freezing oceans and dazzling skyscapes. Home to millions of diverse animals and people. The stage to massive migrations by land, sea and air. The setting of epic exploratory voyages. And, in crystalline prose, Lopez captures the magic of the Arctic – the essential mystery and beauty of a continent that has enchanted man’s imagination and ambition for centuries.
The Old Ways is the stunning fourth book by acclaimed nature writer Robert Macfarlane.
Shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson prize 2012
Following the tracks, holloways, drove-roads and sea paths that form part of a vast ancient network of routes criss-crossing the British Isles and beyond, Robert Macfarlane discovers a lost world - a landscape of the feet and the mind, of pilgrimage and ritual, of stories and ghosts; above all of the places and journeys which inspire and inhabit our imaginations.
'Really do love it. He has a rare physical intelligence and affords total immersion in place, elements and the passage of time: wonderful' Antony Gormley
'A marvellous marriage of scholarship, imagination and evocation of place. I always feel exhilarated after reading Macfarlane' Penelope Lively
'Macfarlane immerses himself in regions we may have thought familiar, resurrecting them newly potent and sometimes beautifully strange. In a moving achievement, he returns our heritage to us' Colin Thubron
'Every Robert MacFarlane book offers beautiful writing, bold journeys . . . With its global reach and mysterious Sebaldian structure, this is MacFarlane's most important book yet' David Rothenberg, author of Survival of the Beautiful and Thousand Mile Song
'Luminous, possessing a seemingly paradoxical combination of the dream-like and the hyper-vigilant, The Old Ways is, as with all of Macfarlane's work, a magnificent read. Each sentence can carry astonishing discovery' Rick Bass, US novelist and nature writer
'The Old Ways confirms Robert Macfarlane's reputation as one of the most eloquent and observant of contemporary writers about nature' Scotland on Sunday
'Sublime writing . . . sets the imagination tingling . . . Macfarlane's way of writing [is] free, exploratory, rambling and haphazard but resourceful, individual, following his own whims, and laying an irresistible trail for readers to follow' Sunday Times
'Macfarlane relishes wild, as well as old, places. He writes about both beautifully . . . I love to read Macfarlane' John Sutherland, Financial Times
'Read this and it will be impossible to take an unremarkable walk again' Metro
In Silt, bestselling travel writer Robert Macfarlane walks the Broomway, the deadliest path in Britain.
In one of the most striking chapters of his brilliant 2012 book The Old Ways, Robert Macfarlane walks the Essex offshore path which has claimed the lives of more than sixty people over the centuries. His companion on this atmospheric and potentially perilous journey is his old friend and photographer, David Quentin.
In this special e-book edition, the Broomway section of The Old Ways appears alongside a run of twenty-two photographs taken that day by David, which form a haunting counterpoint to the text itself. In a newly written afterword, David reflects on the walk, on Robert Macfarlane's writing and on the fascinating legal terrain which paths like this one traverse even as they cross the land itself.
Praise for The Old Ways:
'Macfarlane has shown how utterly beautiful a brilliantly written travel book can still be. As perfect as his now classic The Wild Places. Maybe it is even better than that' William Dalrymple, Observer
'A lovely book, a poetic investigation into what it is to follow a path, on land and at sea, in the footsteps of both our ancient predecessors and such writers as Edward Thomas: Macfarlane is reviving an entire body of nature writing here' David Sexton, Evening Standard
'Beautifully written, moving, thrilling. It reminded me of how much stranger and richer the world is... at walking speed' Philip Pullman, Guardian
'A magnificent meditation on walking and writing. An astonishingly haunted book' Adam Nicolson, Daily Telegraph
'The Old Ways sets the imagination tingling . . . it is like reading a prose Odyssey sprinkled with imagist poems' John Carey, Sunday Times
Robert Macfarlane is the author of the award-winning Mountains of the Mind; The Wild Places; The Old Ways, which was shortlisted for the 2012 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction; and Landmarks, which was shortlisted for the 2015 Samuel Johnson Prize. He is a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge.
David Quentin is a barrister specialising in tax law. He also takes photographs, teaches Cambridge undergraduates about versification and plays the bass guitar in London-based krautgoth noisegaze outfit The Murder Act.
A thought experiment in future-shock survivalism' Robert MacFarlane
'Gripping ... of all science fiction's apocalypses, this is one of the most haunting' Financial Times
WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY ROBERT MACFARLANE
A post-apocalyptic vision of the world pushed to the brink by famine, John Christopher's science fiction masterpiece The Death of Grass includes an introduction by Robert MacFarlane in Penguin Modern Classics.
At first the virus wiping out grass and crops is of little concern to John Custance. It has decimated Asia, causing mass starvation and riots, but Europe is safe and a counter-virus is expected any day. Except, it turns out, the governments have been lying to their people. When the deadly disease hits Britain, society starts to descend into barbarism. As John and his family try to make it across country to the safety of his brother's farm in a hidden valley, their humanity is tested to its very limits. A chilling psychological thriller and one of the greatest post-apocalyptic novels ever written, The Death of Grass shows people struggling to hold on to their identities as the familiar world disintegrates - and the terrible price they must pay for surviving.
John Christopher (1922-2012) was the pen name of Samuel Youd, a prolific writer of science fiction. His novels were popular during the 1950s and 1960s, most notably The Death Of Grass (1956), The World in Winter (1962), and Wrinkle in the Skin (1965), all works depicting ordinary people struggling in the midst of apocalyptic catastrophes. In 1966 he started writing science-fiction for adolescents; The Tripods trilogy, the Prince in Waiting trilogy (also known as the Sword of the Spirits trilogy) and The Lotus Caves are still widely read today.
Ifyou enjoyed The Death of Grass, you might like John Wyndham's The Day of the Triffids, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.
WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY ROBERT MACFARLANE
During the Second World War, John Stewart Collis volunteered to leave his comfortable life as an academic to work on the land for the war effort. His account of this time perfectly captures the soft-handed, city-dweller's naivety and wonder both at the workings of nature and the toughness of life on a farm. It's set in the south of England and comprises exquisitely written sections on whatever happens to take Collis's fancy and inspire his thoughtful curiosity, ranging from humorous sketches of the characters he works alongside; mini-essays such as 'Contemplation upon Ants', The Mystery of Clouds', 'Colloquy on the Rick', 'Meditation while Singling Mangolds', 'The Garden of Eden'; and celebrations of the earthworm, pea and potato. His mind ranges far and wide through literature science and philosophy as well as amazing descriptive writing, which makes for a book that is as uncategorisable as it is enchanting.
Robert Macfarlane was born in Nottinghamshire in 1976. He is the author of Mountains of the Mind, The Wild Places, The Old Ways and Landmarks. Mountains of the Mind won the Guardian First Book Award and the Somerset Maugham Award and The Wild Placeswon the Boardman-Tasker Award. Both books have been adapted for television by the BBC. He is a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and writes on environmentalism, literature and travel for publications including the Guardian, the Sunday Timesand The New York Times. He is currently working on an illustrated children's book about the natural world in collaboration with illustrator Jackie Morris.