I don’t buy a lot of books any more, for reasons of both economy and a concerted effort not to buy what I don’t need. Libraries provide me with most of what I read. But I will buy a book if I need it for research, and I can’t get it any other way, or, it falls into a category I call ‘contemplative books’: books I will read several times, books that make me think about my relationship to the world. Mostly these are books like The Wild Places, by Robert MacFarlane, or Four Fields, by Tim Dee, thoughtful, insightful books written about the relationship between nature and humans. Mostly British, as this is the country I love best of all the world.
So when Amazon.co.uk sent me their most recently generated list of ‘books recommended for me’, one stood out. (By the way, I don’t understand the algorithms they use, but they get it right 95% of the time. I want to buy almost all of them. I resist.) The Green Roads into the Trees: A Walk through England, by Hugh Thomson, ticked enough of the boxes. My libraries didn’t have it and weren’t interested in getting it – too specialized. I was pretty certain I would read it more than once. So it became one of the rare books I bought.
I was busy, so I didn’t look at it for a few day after it arrived. But when I opened it….call it grace, call it serendipity…but it ticked a box I hadn’t realized it would. The book is about the author’s walk from Dorset to Norfolk on an ancient trackway called the Icknield Way, a route and an experience I need to research, not for the Empire’s Legacy series, but for another novel which is in the very early planning and research stage. I was absolutely delighted. And if I know the way of things, there is a good chance that somewhere in this book there will be a line, a comment, that will inform and change that novel in a way I can’t foresee.