We are so lucky to live where we do.
For us and many others this has been a familiar refrain over the last year. As the world around has closed down, I think it is fair to say that most people have felt an increasing yearning to reach out into it, to touch the bark of a tree or gaze upon an open horizon unimpeded by the increasingly familiar walls that surround us.
And so, those of us who have, by choice or circumstance found ourselves living surrounded by woods and countryside, have had the privilege to walk out into it, to glimpse a little reassuring wilderness in an otherwise bewildering world. Never have we felt more grateful for it, and the link between mental wellness and nature has shown itself manifestly.
For many of us here in Hay-on-Wye the river is where we find the ultimate calm – whether on or in the water, there’s no better place to reflect, refresh, and explore.
Whilst we hope it won’t be long until everyone is able to experience the joys of the natural world once more, there are always of course, locked down or otherwise – books. With the power to take us to new places and experience familiar ones afresh – there has never been a better time to read yourself wild.
Here then, are some books to take you there, wherever you now are.
Books can be bought through Green Ink Booksellers of Hay-on-Wye, at https://uk.bookshop.org/shop/greeninkbooksellers
Any questions or for second-hand copies contact us directly on firstname.lastname@example.org – Ellen and Josh 📚 x
Mountains of the Mind by Robert Macfarlane
Robert Macfarlane leads us up into the mountains to experience their beauty, the risk as well as the enticement of adventure and explores the strong pull that humans have long felt to reach the world’s highest places.
Check it out – https://uk.bookshop.org/a/4397/9781783784509
Dart by Alice Oswald
From canoeists and swimmers to a poacher and a sewage worker, Alice Oswald spent years recording conversations with people who live and work along the River Dart in Devon. What results is this incredible narrative of the life of a river, from source to sea.
Check it out – https://uk.bookshop.org/a/4397/9780571214105
Waterlog by Roger Deakin
The now classic odyssey follows one man on his ambition to swim his way through the British Isles. A combination of cultural history, autobiography, travel writing and natural history this book is a unique celebration of the enchantment of our waterways.
Check it out – https://uk.bookshop.org/a/4397/9781784700065
Floating by Joe Minihane
Using Roger Deakin’s Waterlog as his guide map, Joe Minihane follows in its wake with this autobiographical look at the healing powers of wild swimming. Impossible to read and not want to get out and jump in!
Check it out – https://uk.bookshop.org/a/4397/9780715652701
The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry
We can’t do better than to let the poetry speak for itself on this one:
I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Check it out – https://uk.bookshop.org/a/4397/9780141987125
The Salt Path by Raynor Wynn
The inspiring story of one couple and a snap decision to respond to a dark point in their lives by embarking on the 630-mile South West Coast Path in its entirety. With little experience and few resources what follows is a moving and heartening tale of loss, grief, our ideas of home and restorative force the natural world can be.
Check it out – https://uk.bookshop.org/a/4397/9781405937184
Full Tilt by Dervla Murphy
In the first book from this celebrated travel writer a childhood ambition to cycle to India is realised when Dervla Murphy set out from Ireland in 1963. Aboard her Armstrong Cadet men’s bicycle named Rozinante (alluding to Don Quixote’s steed), she passed through Europe during one of the worst winters in years and that is only the beginning of this extraordinary travel journal.
Check it out – https://uk.bookshop.org/a/4397/9781906011413
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
A botanist and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Robin Wall Kimmerer brings her two fascinating viewpoints together in this book. She celebrates our relationship with the natural world whilst also looking at where and why we have lost touch with it and how listening to the wisdom of indigenous cultures can help us to reconnect.
Check it out – https://uk.bookshop.org/a/4397/9780141991955
The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben
Sharing his deep love of the forest, Peter Wohlleben discusses the life cycles he has observed within it and makes the case for the forest as a social network. For anyone who has felt that magical stillness when surrounded by trees, this may give a surprising insight into what is really going on around you.
Check it out – https://uk.bookshop.org/a/4397/9780008218430
A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold
One of the most significant environmental books of the 20th Century, Aldo Leopold’s collection of essays advocates his idea of a ‘land ethic’ – a responsible relationship existing between people and the land they inhabit. Part natural history, part philosophy, all beautifully written and with elements of autobiography, this is one to return to.
Check it out – https://uk.bookshop.org/a/4397/9780241402993