Stephen has always been a reader, even if sometimes the books are beyond his grasp.
To call J.A. Baker's book a book about birds is similar to saying Moby-Dick is a book about whales. This is so much more than ornithology. It's a marvelously textured, understated, and beautifully written account of a man's quest to learn certain aspects of the natural world--to become part of the corner of the universe he's come to inhabit. Baker's language is precise and poetic and his insights, on the behavior of birds and man, are remarkable. I love this book all out of proportion.
Bold and elliptical, Outline does as much to reinvent the novel as anything published in the past twenty years, while still managing to be an unlikely page-turner about a woman who struggles simply to be present in her own life.
Eliot Weinberger, a college drop-out turned tanslator (of Paz, Borges, Bei Dao, and others) writes essays unlike anything you've read. These pieces -- erudite, wide-ranging, poetic -- are of universal scope, touching on topics as diverse (and cohesive) as the varieties of Chinese wind, a history of the rhinocerous in Europe, the Nazca lines in the Peruvian desert, and a reverie on the stars that is breathtakingly beautiful. Weinberger's vast learning is matched by an equally encompassing sense of wonder, and his ability to draw the "exotic" closer, while still permitting it an air of mystery, is a thing to marvel at.
What a book this is! Written with a passionate exuberance that nearly makes the words jump off the page, A Country Called Childhood is a fierce cry against the (artificial) disconnect between children and the nature. Griffiths hones her righteous indignation, and a variety of examples from indigenous cultures and literature, to argue that children are healthiest when intimately entangled with animals, mud, and the untameable forces of the living world.
A novel dredged from the depths of the sea.
A simple and effective guide to drawing trees that just might change the way you see the world.
If the best books are those that make you itch for something new—or, in this case, something as ancient as walking—Robert Macfarlane’s poetic travel memoir is certainly one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Tracing his ramblings across moors and seas, up mountains, and along meandering paths, Macfarlane describes in lush, precise prose a natural (and human) world that reveals itself leisurely, step by step. Full of remarkable scenes and a memorable cast of characters, The Old Ways brings to mind recent memoirs like Cheryl Strayed’s Wild and classic nature writing a la Peter Matthiessen. I recommend it with only one caveat: read it with your hiking boots on; it’ll make you want to get up and go.
Add to CartAdd to Wish List Taking as his inspiration Borges' Book of Imaginary Beings, Caspar Henderson set out to investigate those seemingly too strange to be real creatures that are, in fact, alive on our strange planet. From the axolotl to the zebra fish, this book demonstrates just how wondrous biology is and how bizarre the journey to get to this point has been.
An unforgettable and haunting collection of thematically linked stories tracing the black experience in the new world. Written in a virtuosic range of styles, Counternarratives announces John Keene as one of our great--and seriously underappreciated--talents.
Lolly Willowes is utterly beguiling. A prim and proper British spinster decides unexpectedly to renounce the normality of her staid life and dashes off into the wilds, where witchy things await. Lolly is one of the most memorable characters I've had the pleasure of meeting.
Joy Williams is an American treasure and Ninety-Nine Stories of God, a collection of sharp-eyed, occasionally heartbreaking, and often mordantly funny short fictions has become for me an instant desert island book. Williams is no stranger to the darker, inexplicable currents of life, which gives this book a weight far beyond its slimness.