This could be fun? Steve Gale; prompted by Jon Dunn, has started yet another ball rolling - eight books for a desert island. I don't think I've ever read eight books! - of course I read, but I dabble, love the power of the written word, but can't seem to find the enthusiasm to read a book from start to finish.There have been one or two exceptions, but I am not easily drawn into the romanticism of epic tales from a period before I was born. Strange when everything about my angling and general appreciation of my surroundings is based upon the idyll of a countryman - a long forgotten concept in 2016.
I have a library full of hundreds of books but, by and large, they are reference material and not something which would hold much fascination should I ever find myself marooned on a desert island. I have to assume that the stay upon this island would be lengthy and my choice, therefore, be diverse enough to provide stimulus for a stagnating brain?
No. 1 - Johnathan Livingstone Seagull - Richard Bach
If ever I require confirmation of why it's important that I am truly an individual - this simple book has it all. How far can anyone push themselves before they discover their limitations? I loved it as a teenager - it's even more apt now. I'm fully aware of The God Squad undertones, it remains, however, an inspirational story written by a talented aviator and word-smith
No. 2 - Wild Chorus - (Sir) Peter Scott
One of the greatest champions of conservation the world has ever known; beyond any doubt? This wonderful book was first published in 1938, my copy a rather tatty 1944 re-print. It recalls Peter's early years as a wild-fowler, tales of hardship and endurance as he sought his quarry out on the coastal wilderness of Fenland, The Solway and many other venues, home and abroad. Generously illustrated by his own art work, it is a magical read, transporting one back to those pre-war times and the excitement of stormy weather and the "flighting wild geese"!
No. 3 - Kenzie, The Wild Goose Man - Colin Willock
Sadly, I do not own a copy of this particular book. I was once lent a copy by my great friend Steve Baron, when we worked together at Brooke Bond in Redbourn, Herts. I believe that Colin Willock was the Editor of The Shooting Times when he wrote this biography. It is about one of the greatest wild-fowlers ever to frequent Fenland. Kenzie Thorpe was the very best,of the best, there was. Peter Scott actually employed him when he quit shooting to set up his first wild-fowl collection at the Lighthouse. It is a tale of a hard man, who lived to pursue his passion for shooting wild geese - and he certainly did that. Colin Willock manages to convey the hardships he endured and extraordinary skills he employed to tell the unique story of a bloke called "Kenzie"
No. 4 - The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - C.S. Lewis
The fifth book, of seven, in The Chronicles of Narnia which, for some reason to me, outshines the others in this much acclaimed literary masterpiece. I think that the character of the mouse, Reepicheep, is why I'm so drawn to this magical world? Small of stature, but brave beyond comprehension, this honest and loyal servant wishes to discover more - seek adventure beyond the known boundaries of the Narnian World. A fabulous tale, in a series of brilliantly crafted stories - I'd take the whole lot if I weren't restricted to just eight books!
No. 5 - The Big Fish Scene - edited by Frank Guttfield
Now this might, at first, seem a strange choice as it is a collection of chapters by various authors about how they go about catching various species of UK freshwater fish. It is included for several reasons - firstly I actually met many of the contributors during my time as a member of The National Association of Specialist Anglers Executive Committee. The offerings come from a time before the domination of carp angling over all else, thus each of the species are treated as equals plus the style of writing remains very much entrenched in the countryman approach of that era (1979). Len Head's chapter on "Giant Tench" is the most informative and descriptive piece of angling writing I've ever read - and that's saying something!
No. 6 - Blood Knots - Luke Jennings
A book that would have been undiscovered but for the recommendation of Steve Gale. A tale of friendship, during a life long journey through the three phases of angling priorities, I read it straight through - bloody uncharted territory for me - only to re-read it immediately after; such was the vivid power of Luke Jennings writing style. A wonderful collection of, well written, memoirs in which angling is the common theme throughout - superb; nuff sed!
No. 7 - A Lighthouse Notebook - Norman McCanch
If ever I do get stuck on a desert island and need to understand what is required to keep detailed notes of my encounters with other life forms, then Norman's classic is the template for everyone. His studious attention to detail, incredible artwork and lucid writing style combine to enable you to taste the sea spray as another gale hits his remote workplaces. I am very fortunate to have spent many happy hours in his company - generally in the Grove Ferry/Stodmarsh area, but not always. He is a great guy and this book is testament to his enthusiasm and ability as both an all-round naturalist and artist.
No. 8 - Angling in Earnest - Fred J Taylor
As important as Richard Walker was in the embryonic days of modern specimen angling, Fred J was the guy to whom pleasure anglers, of that period, were better able to relate. His writing was simplistic, yet powerfully descriptive none the less, and able to draw ordinary folk into his world without patronising or appearing aloof. Fred was a true countryman, equally at home with a shotgun or ferret as a fishing rod. He was an immense character in an era full of such people, yet it is his genuine love for the outdoors and sharing knowledge and experience which sets him apart from his peers - it's still some of my favourite angling literature despite being written in 1958.
So there you have it - two days it's taken me to come up with this little offering - two very enjoyable days of thought and discussion. Bev has a very differing list, she being a keen reader of many authors old and new. I even chatted about the concept with guys at work - with varying levels of response and enthusiasm. I will end by thanking Steve (and Jon) for the idea; it's been great fun and I echo Steve's comment that it should be compulsory for all natural history-type bloggers to have a go.