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Geographical’s pick of the books: July

  • Written by  Geographical
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Geographical’s pick of the books: July
30 Jul
A hand-picked selection of inspiring reads for summer

Into the tangled bank

INTO THE TANGLED BANK: In Which our Author Ventures Outdoors to Consider the British in Nature by Lev Parikian

From the spiders in his kitchen sink and the ‘impossible balance’ of the domestic garden (‘simultaneously both with and against nature’), to his ‘patch’ of Norwood Grove and Streatham Common, Welsh bird sanctuaries and even the moon, we are surrounded by, dependent on, and significantly susceptible to nature, writes Parikian – but there is little understanding of it. Into the Tangled Bank is a layman’s guide to everyday nature, and indeed to the laypersons out and about in it (whence his subtitle), many of whom ‘don’t realise they’re experiencing nature, of course’.

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THE FALCON THIEF: A True Tale of Adventure, Treachery and the Hunt for the Perfect Bird by Joshua Hammer

Do you remember what you were doing on 3 May 2010? Jeffrey Lendrum does. He was wandering around Birmingham International Airport with the eggs of 14 rare peregrine falcons strapped to his stomach, which he’d recently pinched from a cliff in Wales, about to be apprehended by the police. So begins Joshua Hammer’s new book The Falcon Thief, a thrilling and alarming story of the lengths Lendrum is willing to go to supply his wealthy clients in the Middle East with eggs, and the man out to stop him: Detective Andy McWilliam of the United Kingdom’s National Wildlife Crime Unit.

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HUMANKIND: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregmen

‘Catastrophes bring out the best in people,’ writes Rutger Bregman. ‘I know of no other sociological finding that’s backed by so much solid evidence that’s so blithely ignored.’ Bregman may be specifically discussing the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, but the bigger picture, he argues, is clear: people are ‘pretty decent’. Following previous success with Utopia for Realists, his new book Humankind is dedicated to discussing this ‘radical idea’ in depth.

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THE NEXT GREAT MIGRATION: The Story of Movement on a Changing Planet by Sonia Shah

‘The idea of migration as a national security threat seeped into the public’s attention and incorporated itself into the world’s foremost international security organisations,’ writes Sonia Shah. In The Next Great Migration, she traces this mentality – that migration is fundamentally something to be feared – back to its routes in dubious scientific literature.

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FIFTY MILED WIDE: Cycling Through Israel and Palestine by Julian Sayarer

Julian Sayarer, most well-known for his record-breaking 18,000-mile world circumnavigation by bicycle, and his subsequent book, Life Cycles, takes to his bicycle one again to traverse the length and breadth of Israel and Palestine. In Fifty Miles Wide, Sayarer provides a humanitarian-minded foreigner’s perspective on this troubled land – a frustrating, illuminating and occasionally hopeful journey.

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DARK, SALT, CLEAR: Life in a Cornish Fishing Town by Lamorna Ash

Lamorna Ash knows she’s set herself an impossible task. That of attempting to entirely convey a place and its people on paper. But she gives it a go anyway, becoming a temporary resident of the Cornish fishing town of Newlyn and allowing its activities, atmosphere and inhabitants to break over her like a wave. Dark, Salt, Clear is so soaked through with the sea, and fishing, that its pages almost feel damp to the touch, in the same way that cotton sheets do in seaside homes. And Ash is an exciting new talent. A mature voice. And a humble one. Not afraid to channel the insights of those who have gone before her – Lopez, Didion, Woolf, Thoreau.

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