Author: Robert Macfarlane
Summary: A beautiful, thought-provoking meditation on nature.
The only connection between sections of this book is that each has to do with things found underground. The author physically explores some incredible underground spaces. He simultaneously explores the way humans have interacted with the world beneath our feet and the sorts of meanings we’ve attached to what we find there.
This is some of the best nature writing I’ve ever read. The author’s style of descriptions really worked for me. His short, sentence fragments capture impressions and portions of scenes. I found this much easier to process than more holistic descriptions. It felt like I was really there with my gaze bouncing around the scene. His use of this technique occasionally felt repetitive, but it worked so well for me that I didn’t mind. I think the rapid fire of these sentences also made his experiences feel more immediate. I don’t think this style will be for everyone, but it was a perfect fit for me.
I liked the mix of historical information with the author’s own experiences. From the London underground to the interior of glaciers, he had some incredible adventures while writing this book! The author also used his exploration of nature to talk about more abstract concepts: love and community; what it means to be human and our relationship with nature; mortality and motivation. This made for a book that felt worth taking my time with, even though I typically struggle to slow myself down. I loved how much it made me think. It also brought a real sense of wonder and seriousness to the consideration of even common parts of nature. Reading it was a delightful experience.