What does your bookshelf say about you? At a guess it’s a snapshot of your interests with a few randoms in there too. Narrow that down to subjects… and it probably tells a lot more about you. I've avoided saying too much about myself on my blog but, with Christmas Wish Lists in mind too, I thought I’d take you through what books are on my bookshelves and how they got there.
Okay, briefly breaking my bookshelves into subjects and you have (in no order of preference) Wildlife, Birds, Gardening (from practical to themed), Photography, Art (Drawing and Watercolour) and Technical (PhotoShop, video, programming). Mm… just thinking about this further I have a few other books that might be of interest to you too!
Let’s kick off, as per the post title, with Wildlife. I completely appreciate my books may be of no interest to readers from outside the UK but please do read on as this is as much about why these books are on my bookshelf and that doesn’t really change from country to country. So… introducing the wildlife books…
RSPB Wildlife of Britain
is everything you want in a book. Ultimately its breathtaking photography make you go ‘wow’ and inspire you to keep turning pages. This book also inspires you to head outside and see its images for real, for yourself!
The weight and quality of this hardback book makes it feel special to own and an ideal gift (I gave two last Christmas). Its layout is clean with excellent, easy to follow, detailed illustrations and it is written both informatively and in narrative.
In all honesty, I don’t have a single criticism of this book… an absolute treasure. Mm… perhaps the RRP at £30 (around $50) is an issue. However, as with all books/products if you shop around you may well get a discount on this. I was fortunate to get my copy for half price. My gift copies I picked up at a third of the price… now that was a treasure!
The Complete Guide to British Wildlife was the very first wildlife book I bought. In this case, I chose it as it wasn’t a big read! I was looking to use this book primarily as a source for ID’s. I found many books were illustration based but found a photographic reference much better. Initially this book gave me enough info. Searching for a little more info I picked up another copy in this series – Complete British Animals. My interest in wildife was developing now.
Next, the holiday book… Butterflies and Moths (Pocket Nature). Last year, we were in Norfolk and I spotted butterflies I had never seen before. Rather than just taking photographs and finding ID’s when I got home I decided it would be much more fun to find out what we were seeing at the time. On this occasion the wildlife book was scaled down to pocket size.
Pocket sized it may have been but this was a valuable, quick and easy book to use. Photographic references and illustrations were excellent and once again a great layout. I particularly liked the instant size guide (comparison to book size) and the maps showing the regions of the UK the species could be found. The later helped me a lot. However, the best part of this book was that displayed the butterflies by colour and for the newbie like me this worked a treat!
Not all books that say they are pocket sized will actually fit in the average coat pocket. However, the Pocket Nature Wildlife of Britain which covers British animals and plants just begged to be bought!
Yep… this was probably an impulse buy, no way did it fit in my pocket… it was one for the bag. Oh no… with cameras etc already packed there was little space and it would make my bag heavy.
Why did I buy it then? Well, it gave a fantastic snapshot of everything from trees to starfish… great photographs, illustrations, layout and this time extra details like footprints and droppings of mammals! Oh… and I did really like the fungi section. So did it work as a pocket guide? Yep, I just make room for it somewhere… or ask my kind OH to put it in his pocket :-D
This Wildlife section just couldn’t be complete without a reference and connection to wildlife gardening. Fitting in a square pocket (should you want to carry it around) "Gardeners' World": 101 Ideas for a Wildlife-friendly Gardenmay appear a modest addition to my bookshelf. However, there are some fantastic ideas in this project based book.
One particular project really caught my attention… I’ll come back to that when I give it a try. If you do have this book on your bookshelf I wonder if you can guess which project I’m thinking about. Actually, there are quite a few I like. Again, simple is the key here. This book includes plants for wildlife and feeder ideas.
Wildlife books can be found in Garden Centres as well as book sellers. Not all books there are at full price either. Bargains can be had if you have time to browse… even at this time of year with all the extra Christmas stock of trees and decorations. However, in some ways it is quite sad to see a book with a RRP at £12.99 (around $22) being sold for £1.99 (around $3)… less than the cost of a magazine!
A book about wildlife in towns and cities at that price appears to be a no-brainer! Mm… but where’s the catch? Well, for me it wasn’t the print date of 2003… it was the author. I could hear his irritating voice as I read the text. Sorry, Chris! Mm… but I bought the book… why?
Well, living on the edge of a small town (almost in the countryside) I am actually fascinated to hear about the wildlife that makes its way to and actually has a city habitat. Chris Packham's wild side of town is written in a narrative way in a style you’d expect from Chris… with interesting stories I have to admit.
This book has an illustrated field guide towards the end of the book which I liked. It also lists top urban sites with address/location/website details which I thought were very useful too. Chris's passion for wildife is without question and he's pretty knowledgeable too. Okay… I‘ll admit... I’ve found myself warming to him ;-)
So, here we come to the end of the present collection of wildlife books on my bookshelf and I’ve kept the best to last.
Although the images in the books above are absolutely captivating, having unquestionable value in ID’s and the illustrations are accurate there is just something missing. Until I discovered the Secret Lives of Garden Wildlife I didn’t see that either.
The skilled photographer can capture the true character of wildlife but, for me, the illustrator can capture just a little magic. They can bring the page to life.
I absolutely love everything about this book but I especially love the sketch style illustrations. They, for me, just say so much more than the words on the page.
On saying that, I also absolutely love the narrative and informative way this book has been written. It is fact and observation based and follows the months of the year. I have another in this series and… one on my Christmas Wish List. I feel the author is chatting to me... and you can guess I might enjoy that!
Okay, that’s enough bookshelf chat for today. What about the wildlife in my garden that these books have helped me get to know? Well, not many sightings at the moment. I’m guessing the hedgehogs are pretty much in hibernation now with perhaps a few odd night prowls for last minute feeds.
My last sighting (October 28th) I never got the chance to post about and involved lifting and weighing one that I thought might just be slightly on the small side for this time of year at 541g (600g + is much better).
I decided to keep this hedgehog overnight in my shed in a roomy spare guinea pig cage with a space to hide, food and water. I kept an eye ‘live’ that evening through my wildlife camera on a tripod but wasn’t happy watching this wild animal caged. It did move around a bit trying to get out. However, I felt it was the right thing to do to keep it there.
My nearest wildlife rescue centre is a busy SSPCA centre and I left a message with them the next morning. I eventually spoke to them early the next evening and as the hedgehog had been seen at dusk and was still moving about enough to suggest it wasn’t ill I was advised to just let it go where I found it. I was relieved as I was concerned it was getting stressed and I certainly was myself…watching it! This did upset me too.
Let’s take a look back again at another dusk hedgehog visitor back in the summer. This one was happily on safari in my garden and didn’t appeared bothered at all that I was quietly following it with my video camera :-D
Now... I wonder if you are on Christmas Shopping 'safari' this weekend. If so... good luck :-D
You may notice I’ve chosen to link directly to Amazon here so you can their reviews should you be interested in buying any of these books. You might also find the some books have had reprints and don’t have the same cover as the one on my bookshelf. Happy reading!