Okay, so I have been really slack lately, the start of the semester is always a busy time work-wise and I have rashly decided to add to my workload by enrolling in two units in environmental studies. Just wanted to formalise and consolidate my learning in this area. While only enrolled part-time and as an online student I am taking advantage of the luxury of going to lectures in person when I can. First time I have attended a face-to-face lecture in years, decades even and I had forgotten that wonderful buzz of a lecture theatre and the excitement and wonder that comes with learning in this fashion.
Before I briefly share my recent Gaia/nature reading I just want to share a link to a post by Margaret at From Pyrenees to Pennines on Eating to Extinction. In an age of declining diversity in our foods, this is an important issue and a warning we would do well to heed. Check out Margaret’s review, after reading it I intend to track down a copy of Eating to Extinction, by Dan Saladino.
I am slowly catching up on others’ blog posts and I apologise if I have missed anything, now that I have broken my own posting drought I will hopefully catch up and share some more links soon. Still been managing to keep up reading for the Gaia/nature challenge but will keep my comments on reading brief. Surprised at how much I have managed to read over the month of February. Started with Kerri Ni Dochartaigh’s Thin Places a curious blend of trauma memoir combined with a kind of pagan mysticism and reverence for the natural world. Dochartaigh was born in the eighties at the height of “the troubles” in Northern Ireland and The Thin Places was written during the Brexit kerfuffle, which has seen the old diversions start to re-appear in Northern Ireland. Interesting to read a book from a white writer who voices some of the same colonialist concerns that First Nations writers here and elsewhere voice. Easy to forget that Ireland too has been on the receiving end of colonialism. The blend of history with personal memoir and nature writing was effective and evocative. A slow, lyrical read.
A colleague also lent me Geraldine Brooks latest novel Horse, while not a book about wilderness or a wild animal, think I can stretch the definition of what is suitable for the challenge. It was a read I very much enjoyed. It tackles head-on one of the big issues of our age, namely Black Lives Matter. It is a dual narrative taking place in both the 1850s and 2019. Telling the story of the legendary racehorse Lexington and the fundamental role played in American racing by black slaves. The novel progresses to contemporary times exposing the deep divisions that distort modern America. Brooks also touches on the modern-day horrors of the racing industry where the welfare of the horses is never a prime consideration. Basically this was a great read, a bit slow to start and confronting at the end but well worth the effort. A story about much more than just a remarkable horse.
The First Astronomers: How Indigenous Elders read the stars by Duane Hamacher was another read from February. A fascinating account of the advanced knowledge of our First Nation People. A knowledge that in many respects has been more advanced than western observation in this field. There was a lot of astronomy science in this read, nothing to heavy or obscure but a bit slow going for me. The cultural information and storytelling was deeply interesting and helped create a meaningful structure around the science. Important to remember that those stories are a means of passing on scientific knowledge and that First Nations knowledge and ways of teaching have much to offer if we only take the time to listen. It is largely specific to Australia but other First Nations knowledge is also referenced. A fascinating read, my knowledge of our night sky has grown considerably. I notice my public library has the audio of this title so I am thinking it might be a great listen on our next trip, (the kind of thing G would enjoy).
Danielle Clode’s Killers in Eden: The True Story Of Killer Whales And Their Remarkable Partnership With The Whalers Of Twofold Bay was an absolute gem of a read. When we lived in Canberra the Saphire coast was where we went for a beach holiday, so I was aware of the history of whaling at Eden on the south coast and aware of the famous partnership between the whalers and a pod of orcas but I knew little of the details of this history. Clode documents orca biology and behaviour while also examining the unique history of whaling in Eden and the unusual relationship that developed between whalers and orcas. Clode is an exceptional science writer who also captures the social implications of our encounters with nature and this fairly short read provides much food for thought. After reading Killers in Eden I am keen to read Clode’s most recent book on the koala, which is currently sitting in my TBR.
This has been a pretty brief post but at least I have broken the blogging drought and updated on my Gaia/nature reading challenge. Have you read any great nature or environment themed books lately? If so feel free to leave me a link in the comments. New readers are also always welcome to join the challenge at any time.
2 thoughts on “A brief reading catch up”
I think I’ll give “The First Astronomers” a go. With the recent influx of really worthwhile fiction from indigenous writers this is a topic that is fascinating.
The year is marching forward. Hang in there.
Thanks for giving my post Honourable Mention. You clearly have a very busy life, but the books you have read are going straight n my list too. Thanks!