Book Reviews

Into the Tangled Bank By Lev Parikian


What Da Cover Says:  It’s often said that the British are a nation of nature lovers; but what does that really mean? For some it’s watching racer snakes chase iguanas on TV as David Attenborough narrates, a visit to the zoo to convene with the chimps; for others it’s a far-too-ambitious clamber up a mountain, the thrilling spectacle of a rare bird in flight.

Lev Parikian sets out to explore the many, and particular, ways that he, and we, experience the natural world – beginning face down on the pavement outside his home, then moving outwards to garden, local patch, wildlife reserve, craggy coastline and as far afield as the dark hills of Skye. He visits the haunts of famous nature lovers – reaching back to the likes of Charles Darwin, Etta Lemon, Gavin Maxwell, John Clare and Emma Turner – to examine their insatiable curiosity and follow in their footsteps.

And everywhere he meets not only nature, but nature lovers of all varieties: ramblers, dog-walkers, photographers; loving couples, striding singles, families; kite-flyers, den-builders, grass-loungers; young whippersnappers, old codgers, middle-aged ne’er-do-wells; beginners, specialists, all-rounders; or just people out for a stroll in the sun.

What I Says:  If you are new to discovering what nature is all about or like me you enjoy being outside watching birds and insects but are blooming useless at identifying them then this book is for you.  Lev is still new to this nature lark and this book is his journey into the outside world to learn more about what is out there.  It is not packed full with a gadzillion facts about one species, instead you get given Lev’s knowledge on what he sees, with plenty of footnotes explaining he is probably wrong.  He takes you from his kitchen sink to his garden and surrounding area, he gradually moves further afield to zoos and islands and this is one of the best things about this book, it takes you to places that are easily accessible to the reader…well at least once I’ve figured out the clues to find his house that is.

One of the funniest nature books I’ve read was by Douglas Adams, Last Chance to See was so good because his sense of humour gave the reader a bit more involvement, it was like you were there with him.  Lev’s sense of humour is brilliant, I love reading his funny observations on twitter and it was great to see it here in this book.  He does a lot of people watching and his comments about those he met had me laughing, his almost-fear of joggers gave me a good chuckle.  He is also the master of creating some pretty bonkers metaphors, one of my favourites was:

“Good humour runs through them like writing through a stick of rock”

Unlike your standard nature book this author does like a good swear word and for that reason the book should be used in schools, I would have been hooked on nature as a kid if this book was available to me then.  He also explores areas that usually get missed out of other books,  the kitchen sink and it’s resident spider get explored which was a great addition to the book.  He explores his garden too and it’s these sort of things that will inspire the reader to go out exploring.

This is a wonderful book, a must read for all and would make a great gift for anybody showing the slightest interest in the outside world.  The cover makes my top 10, lots of little things to spot in the drawing.

Thanks to Elliott & Thompson for the review copy of this book.


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