Book Reviews - some good books for the festive period

I think it is probably ok now to talk about gifts for gardeners isn't it?  Indulge me....  I thought I would share some books with you that you might like to consider as gifts for gardeners or if you are anything like me, gifts for yourself.  Some of these books I have bought for myself, some I have been sent to review, I will be clear which is which. 
First up:  The Almanac - a seasonable guide to 2021 by Lia Leendertz.  I bought this book, I am a big fan of this book and I have bought every one of them so far.
I have always thought this book is the perfect mix of fascinating information and charm.  Every edition has had a different illustrator, this year it is Helen Cann and this gives each edition its own identity.  The book takes you through the year with information, songs, poems and some recipes.  This current year the 2020 edition has kept me going when the weeks have left long and static.  I hate to think that 2021 will be needed to do the same yet I fear it will be so at least for a while.  Buy this book, you need this joy in your life and to share it with others.
I am, like a lot of people, quite a fan of Jackie Morris's work.   I first became aware of her through The Lost Words that is a partnership with Robert Macfarlane and when I saw she was crowdfunding a new book called The Unwinding I quickly contributed.  When it was announced there would be two books, one called The Silent Unwinding then I contributed to that too.  These are beautiful books to hold and treasure.  The Unwinding is made up of short stories or narrative poems that you read to help you unwind and sleep.  The Silent Unwinding is the same illustrations but you add your own words and thoughts.  I have not brought myself to being able to write in mine yet.  Years of being told 'don't write on books' have made this a very difficult thing for me to do, yet I aspire.
I also bought The Lost Spells, a follow up to The Lost Words and dare I say I think I like this even more.  

I have also been sent a couple of books to review.  As ever I never accept a book to review unless I think I am going to enjoy it.  
Suburban Gardens by Twigs Way is a book I was delighted to be offered to review.  Some time last year I went to hear Twigs give a talk about garden history at my local Gardens Trust meeting.  I find garden history fascinating and in particular 'ordinary' garden history.  The gardens that you and I garden all the time: those suburban back gardens that we may take for granted yet are the result of our social history, our fashions and our times.

This is a great little book: packed with fascinating information and lots of photographs that I studied carefully.  I often find when I am looking at family photos taken in gardens I am staring more at the what is going on around the family members then the family themselves.  This book gives me the context for how my garden and our gardens came to be.   I particularly liked the 'Did you know?' sections as, quite frankly, I didn't know any of them.  I also liked that Twigs makes reference to cigarette cards, to the younger of my readers: in the old days there used to be small cards that people could collect in packets of cigarettes and also other products such as tea.  Things that people bought regularly and so could collect quite fast.  I have a framed set of these cards depicting garden flowers in my lounge that my maternal grandfather collected.  They are not a valuable set in terms of money but they are of great value to me.  I looked at the examples in the book and smiled.

Suburban Gardens by Twigs Way is published by Amberley Publishing

The final book I have been sent is 'Angry Weather: heat waves, floods, storms an the new science of climate change' by Friederike Otto.  I am going to admit I probably would not have bought this book for myself and yet I soon realised what a fascinating and important book this is.  Friederike is an associate professor at the University of Oxford.  Her biography lists her as being a physicist, philosopher and climate researcher and all three of these come into play in this book.  In this book Friderike uses the 2018 Storm Harvey as a case study to explain the approach of Attribution Science: an approach that looks to investigate and explore weather events to see if they are attributable to climate change or not.  Some are and some are not; this is not a value judgement but actually a way for us to understand as to why climate change is so important not to ignore and that our choices can influence its progress or not.

I am by no measure a scientist and I found the book very readable and accessible.  The book does not debate whether climate change is happening as that is now (for most people) a given.  What it does do is give us context, explanation and, importantly, our responsibilities as individuals and governments and corporations.  If you have an interest in our weather and in the consequences of our actions on our environment then this book is for you.

Angry Weather by Friederike Otto is published by Greystone


  1. Brilliant two on my list as presents I would like, especially the almanac, if only for the first six months of 2021,a d my interest in weather and climate change well say no more, 👍

    1. The Almanac is just joy in a book and really interesting - you can see I am a fan as I do buy it every year


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