Well spent Idleness!

Having been prevented by my broken wrist, aided and abetted by a lot of cold, wet weather, from doing much, I have had more time than usual for reading. Some (well quite a lot if I am honest – it has been holiday time) has been undemanding novels of the bed-time reading variety. But 3 have been non-fiction, all obtained from Cardigan Library, and have proved very interesting.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe first was ‘The Secret Life of Trees’ by Colin Tudge. I have a copy of his ‘Future Food’ which I enjoyed very much so I was looking forward to this one and was not disappointed. The first and last sections were particularly fascinating. The first grapples with the question of what makes a tree a tree not a shrub or other plant and how they came into existence. The third describes how trees communicate with each other, share resources thanks to collaboration with mycelia and why we should value them more. As I have a small area of woodland here, rent another few acres from an adjoining farm and did the 6 month, part time Woodland Skills course at Coppicewood College to learn how to manage them, I loved learning more about them.

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The second book was Adam Rutherford’s ‘A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived’ which describes the discoveries about human evolution and genetics which have been made possible by the advances in genomics. The Mendelian inheritance that I learned in school and at University turns out to be far too simplistic! It seems that each new discovery adds to the complexity of the mechanisms involved and throws up new questions. Given the vast amounts of data each research project generates and the computing power needed to make sense of it, even if no more sequencing was done there would be plenty of new discoveries to be made. I suspect that the book was going out of date as it went to press but it was mind-boggling even so. And because Adam Rutherford is an academic geneticist turned journalist he writes well and no previous knowledge is required.

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The final one, which I have not finished, is Waterlog by Richard Deakin. As I don’t particularly enjoy swimming, and especially not in cold water, this is not an obvious one to appeal to me! But the writing is beautiful and, like Charlie Connelly’s ‘Attention all Shipping’ and ‘And Did Those Feet’, it uses a journey of exploration, in this case to to wild-swimming places, to scaffold a travelogue. I am enjoying the sensations he describes so sensuously of immersion in rivers and lakes – but only by proxy!

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