I feel like I have been reading more non-fiction this year when compared to the previous few years. This is not from actual numbers but just a feeling; when November rolls around, I will know the exact values.
When I started reading this book, it began with the author talking about outlandish places in the UK, and I was a little apprehensive about the scope of the entire book (I did not review the blurb at this time). He then takes off to Europe, and the actual content begins.
The book primarily focuses on places in Europe that are remnants of older landscapes that are not remotely connected to the areas geographically close to them at this time.
I will not list the locations individually, but they include a glacier, a grassland, a forest and a desert. The author provides some backdrop with the history and politics of the places he visits. What threw me off was his flaunting of the rules. In every place he visited, he did something that was generally expressly forbidden, if not just discouraged.
In one place he was staying, they only had the rule that no meat or alcohol should be consumed in the house, which I think is something you agree to live there as a lodger, but he sneaked it in any way. In another, he was supposed to stick to the cleared routes in a forest and not disturb the ecosystem by wandering in non-marked areas, which he promptly did, but luckily didn’t go far. The same thing happened in the grasslands as well. He mentions it so nonchalantly that it was quite mystifying for a person like me. I am sure most people would probably agree with him that these small lines can be crossed, but strangely enough, it affected the way I looked at the book.
The writing and the emotions helped me picture the surroundings and imagine the world the author was describing. I will probably never visit these places, but I feel like I got something from this armchair visit. The information is unique and provides a new lens to look at the climatic issues around us. It also factors in political and cultural issues that impact making larger decisions for the better of the environment. The latter parts were quite fascinating and almost entirely new to me.
Apart from the minor issue (a highly personal one at that), I would recommend this book for people who want to read about what has managed to survive despite (and sometimes with the help of) humans in Europe.
I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers, but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.