I try to balance reading for fun and reading for work, and often there are overlaps between these categories. Thought I would start keeping some track of the books I’m reading, with some comments:

  • The Group, Mary McCarthy (1953)
  • The Cheese Monkeys, Chip Kidd (2002), exactly how you would imagine a novel by a graphic designer, with some thought-provoking dialogue about “limitations as possibilities”, which aligns with my own research philosophy.
  • When They Hid the Fire, historian Daniel French (2017), a great foil to Crowe, below; what happens when we make our power use invisible?
  • The  Book Shop, Penelope Fitzgerald (1978), like Swift she makes the wet Suffolk landscape like one of the characters as well as the setting; funny while misanthropic.
  • The Children’s Act, Ian McEwan (2014), devastating yet quick read about relationships, responsibility and religion, with a brief cameo by a conservationist trying to convince coastal farmers to allow the restoration of their land to salt marsh for a buffer against climate change.
  • The Landscape of Power, by Sylvia Crowe (1958); interesting book about the integration of utilitarian infrastructure like electrical transmission into pastoral England. Alternately nostalgic and forward-looking work of landscape architecture with great turns of phrase.
  • Wilding, by Isabella Tree (can that be her real name?) … stalled
  • England and Other Stories, by Graham Swift, who also wrote Waterland, Beautiful.
  • The Essex Serpent, by Sarah Perry. Great fun and skilled writing linking natural history, ghost story, and Victorian manners. Highly recommended.
  • The Outrun, by Amy Liptrot. This was very clearly an assemblage of essays, as each chapter of the book had very similar structure, the arc of landscape, isolation and connection to nature helping this author tackle her alcoholism. An indulgent example of what seems like a genre now, of women taking to remote islands to figure things out through self-imposed hardship.
  • Just finished the in-translation novel August, by Argentinian writer Romina Paula. I loved the Patagonian landscape, the 90s pop culture references, and the unsettling feelings of going ‘home’ after a long time away, and seeing these moments where life choices branch. An unconventional voice that resonated with me.
  • Migration Songs, the first book by Halifax (actually, Dartmouth) writer Anna Quon. Novel narration, and a rich family story, though the main plotline didn’t quite work, especially near the end.