Like many of you, the COVID-19 lockdown turned my life upside down. Plans I’d made as I prepared to leave Antarctica have been completely shelved, any potential opportunities remain just that. Both the travel and the outdoor industries where I’ve usually found work have had to shut up shop and furlough staff. I’ve signed up as a volunteer, but it has taken time for organisations to process the volume of applications they’ve received.
So, I’ve encountered an abundance of idle time in the last week or so. It’s been an unexpected chance to indulge in the things that are usually side-lined for more pressing tasks. For me, it’s reading for pleasure. In the last week, I’ve been able to immerse myself in a few good books to help fend off the cabin fever.
While lockdown has clipped my wings, and travel is an impossibility right now, a book can take the mind flying anywhere beyond the immediate four walls. Here’s what I’ve read, and my to-do list for the coming weeks.
The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd, re-published in 2011 by Canongate
One of the most perfect books I’ve ever read, and a pleasure to revisit with the Twitter #CoReadingVirus book group led by Robert Macfarlane. A meditation on the Cairngorms, and walking in the mountains, on looking closely, and feeling the elemental forces of a landscape.
Horizon by Barry Lopez, published in 2019 by Vintage
A sweeping voyage around the globe, through history and culture, as much as landscape and nature. I’ve been anticipating this book for some time, and can’t wait to dive in.
Boundless: Adventures in the Northwest Passage by Kathleen Winter, published 2015 by Vintage
Another book to satisfy the magnetic pull of the North, and explore the changing dynamics of the region as exploration becomes tourism.
Karluk: The Great Untold Story of Arctic Exploration by William Laird McKinley, published in 1976 by Book Club Associates
Something I picked up in a second-hand book shop to fulfil my interests in shipwrecks and polar exploration. A lesser-known story of exploration and survival.
Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit, published in 2014 by Granta
Something I’d had my eye on for a while, it explores the relationship between thinking and walking, and muses on why slow time is so valuable.
Sightlines by Kathleen Jamie, published in 2012 by Sort Of
Another old favourite I return to time and time again, which reminds me of the importance of being still and observing my surroundings.
At the Loch of the Green Corrie by Andrew Grieg, published in 2010 by Quercus
Carved in the beautiful landscapes of Assynt, this book touches on grief and loss, history, whisky, poetry, and friendship.