May reads – taking me from Louisiana to The Lake District

brown sheep on green grass field under blue sky

I increasingly find myself drawn to non-fiction these days. I love learning from the experiences of others and there is always space on the bookshelf or in the e-book library for another health or nature memoir! I was pleased to fit in a Stephen King book this month. I have his Stephen King On Writing to read at some point but wanted to read some of his fiction work first. It didn’t disappoint.

My ‘book of the month’ is English Pastoral: An Inheritance by James Rebanks. I was drawn in by the beautiful linocut illustration on the cover. Once reading, I was quickly transported to the Lake District countryside. James writes eloquently with pride, passion and love for the landscape he grew up in and is now a steward of. I loved the way he weaved together the history of his land and his family with that of farming more widely. This memoir really opened my eyes to the reasons for changing trends, and the challenges farmers face today. Another great book from my Adventurous Ink subscription.

The Green Mile by Stephen King – I haven’t read any of his books since I was a teenager but was intrigued by his method of publishing The Green Mile in segments. Reading it was pure pleasure. His descriptive writing and the way he goes between the narration of the past and present-day made me want to devour each chapter. Sometimes not much really happens, but it still had me completely hooked, wanting to know what happens next. It’s one of the most brilliantly crafted fiction books I’ve read for a long time.

You Only Live Thrice: Perspective is a Superpower by Karl Perry. I love the subtitle as I know myself that dealing with uncertainty and difficult times can be easier when perspective from previous experiences pulls you through. Throughout some really bleak times, Karl, again and again, grabs onto opportunities to flip his thinking into something more positive. His raw honesty meant I felt I was listening to a close mate sharing their experiences over a series of cups of tea, my jaw dropping in parts and smiling in others. Another well-written book from a fellow Write That Book masterclass alumni.

How to Catch a Mole: And Find Yourself in Nature by Marc Hamer.

Having read Seed to Dust (which I adored) I can see that this book was something of a stepping stone. It has the same evocative language and Marc manages to slow down time and suspend me within his own small wonders of nature.

The mole catching was fascinating and it felt brave of Marc to write about killing animals, which many people would not admit to or share so freely in our world of starkly polarised opinions. The book rekindled memories of my own encounter with a mole. As a child, our dog dug one up, and I cradled it in my hands, admiring its soft, velvety fur. It bit me and I needed a tetanus injection!

Unflip: Changing Your Life After a Life Changing Diagnosis by Jen Parker. I learnt a lot about the condition ankylosing spondylitis, which I had never heard about before. The epilogue which described her experiences with medication and treatments will be very useful to anyone else going through something similar. It must have been incredibly stressful to be diagnosed such a long way from home. I would have liked to have seen more ‘show don’t tell’ descriptive writing when Jen was sharing her travel stories.

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