Seasonal book lists
I’ve been trying hard to think of the books I’ve most enjoyed during the year. It’s not really been an outstanding year, bibliophilically speaking, but here are some of my highlights:
Wildwood; a journey through trees, by Roger Deakin
The very best of nature writing. Something I liked was that Roger’s personality wasn’t hidden among the trees. I got a real sense of his being and attitudes. Thanks to apprentice for suggesting this one.
Homo Britannicus, by Chris Stringer.
A popular scientific account of the settling of Britain, and the successive waves of migration which have resulted in our genetic mix. Not an unreserved recommendation; I thought some of his writing was unclear in places, and I wasn’t particularly interested in the chapter on his research team.
I’m hoping that 2008 will produce some good science writing. Although retired from the scientific world, I still very much enjoy reading about new developments and new insights.
A K Ramanujan: Poems of Love and War.
An introduction, for me, to the unique Sangam poets of India. I had the pleasure of meeting Imtiaz Dharker at StAnza in March, when she read from this work. It was a completely captivating experience.
Annie Freud: The Best Man That Ever Was
A new poetic voice for me, and a very strong and interesting voice it is. The poems are clever, unusual, spirited and often amusing. I liked this debut collection very much.
Robert Hass: Time and Materials
I bought this poetry collection on the strength of reading his work in Best American Poetry 2007. There are some outstanding poems in this collection, and I want to read more of him.
Vikram Seth: Three Chinese poets.
The work translates Li Bai (aka Li Po in Wade-Giles), Du Fu (Tu Fu) and Wang Wei. These are very good translations, and it’s been extremely interesting to compare them with Pound’s versions in the Cantos. Thanks to Mary for giving me this one for my 65th. I read it in China.
Best poetry magazine? Magma.
Best poetry blogs? Rob Mackenzie and George Szirtes.
Best festival? Easily StAnza: Scotland’s Poetry Festival. Looking forward to 2008.
Best reference book? Dorling Kindersley’s Travel Guide to China. I used it extensively in China and Tibet, and I’ve referred to it a lot since returning.