When I was visiting Glasgow recently I popped Kathleen Jamie’s The Bonniest Companie into my bag, thinking I’d be able to read it whenever I stopped for a cup of tea. But you just can’t read this book in public – greetin’ in a chip shop = not good. For in poems completely unsentimental but sparking with meaning and danger, she leads you into the poem and then “she floors you”.
I loved her two books of essays Findings and Sightlines and am now reading Among Muslims, which you could call a “travel book”. It’s an account of the time she spent in Northern Pakistan and although it’s her personal story somehow she avoids all egotism, instead allowing the reader to come close to the people she meets, allowing the reader to interpret what she sees.
I’ve dreamed of traveling to that part of the world; today it seems an impossible dream. I read about it instead. The Road to Oxiania by Robert Byron (no, not that Byron) , An Unexpected Light by Jason Elliot, The Great War for Civilisation by the amazing Robert Fisk, The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan.
For another booklist I am very grateful to fellow Kathleen Jamie fan Iain from Waterstones.
The Wild Braid by Stanley Kunitz
Bento’s Sketchbook by John Berger
Pilgrim At Tinker’s Creek by Annie Dillard also The Abundance
The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd
The Wild Iris by Louise Glick
A Description of the Western Islands of Scotland c1695 by Martin Martin
Seeing Things by Seamus Heaney
About Life by Barry Lopez
Scottish Ballads edited by Emily Lyle
The Penguin Book of Scottish Poetry edited by Imlah and Crawford
I got stuck right into this list over the summer holidays. I particularly enjoyed the People chapter of The Living Mountain and the essay Total Eclipse from The Abundance.