On Nature: Ramblings on the British Countryside - Stuart Maconie
Why did I read it? It was provided to me in exchange for a review.What did I like? In the introduction, it is stated that this book was meant as a "how to" to enjoying the British Countryside, or a "how to get started" written by those people enthusiastic about their chosen subject, be it fishing, foraging, walking, and even living in remote areas, but as contributions were submitted, it transformed into something else. From the first submission by Chris Yates, it becomes clear that this book is more about inspiration than an actual guide. In "A Chain of Ponds", Mr Yates relates the story of his first wildlife encounter as a young lad and so it continues. It is obvious each of the contributors has a passion for their chosen subject, and so even those activities in which I hold no interest were a joy to read, as the wonder and fascination of each author permeated itself through some very deftly written pieces. There are quite a few childhood remembrances of the natural world, some write about their daily activity, or a chosen holiday, but in all there is an enthusiasm which inspires and invigorates. My favourite composition was "The Lazy Naturalist" in which Nick Small inspired me to ... ahem ... do very little. In other words, nature has a habit of taking over if you just let it; advising against keeping your lawns and gardens neatly manicured, thus letting a little wildness in; and, later, being able to sit back and enjoy a personal connection to nature in your own backyard. In fact, "doing little", "taking it slow" and just "watching" is a theme that runs through the book as the best way to get up close and personal to fauna.The beauty of this book, though, is that it is not suited to being read from cover to cover, but dipped into as the mood strikes, and, it felt as though it could be read aloud - some of the stories being suitable for younger readers/listeners, even if the popular culture references are no longer relevant.The beauty of this book does not stop with its content, as it the hardcover is bound beautifully with a textured pale yellow cover, scattered with imprints of tiny, blue images from nature. It doesn't have a dust cover; it doesn't need one.What didn't I like? There are are four, one or two page entries on the identification of species, three animal and one for Primrose and Cowslip, seemingly inserted to create sections in the book, each providing quick, general tips on differentiation. These seemed slightly whimsical in comparison to the rest of the content. It's not that I disliked them, just they felt a little out of place with the rest of the book.Would I recommend it? Yes, because this book is a treasure, having the ability to give readers the impetus to dip their toe into the great outdoors; to discover the thrills and beauties of the natural world.