A fairly random selection of books that have inspired,moved,challenged and sometimes frightened me. Some have haunted me for years, others are new discoveries. Like any reflective list it is constantly subject to revision in the light of new discoveries. Very few of them have much to do with folklore, but i'm trying not to fret about it.
Anderson (William) Green Man: The Archetype of our Oneness with the Earth.
A masterly survey of the pan European enduring significance of this iconic symbol. He brings considerable gravitas to this figure that continues to haunt us from barely glimpsed dark corners. Lyon (Nina) Uprooted: On the Trail of the Green Man. 2016. London; Faber and Faber.
Anyone can compile a compendium of green man figures. It takes more skill and literary grace to weave the legend into its' wider context which the writer has achieved here admirably.
Ballard (JG) The Drowned World.
One of my favourite post apocalyptic novels, and i've read a lot. As the temperature rises and civilisation decays the environment of the northern hemisphere is transformed into a series of tropical lagoons, the Drowned World of the title. The remaining human inhabitants begin to experience a regression to a more primordial stage, and devolve gradually back to a long dormant reptilian life form. The experience is both repulsive and seductive, and represents a kind of home coming, a return to the mythic origins of life itself. Eerie and unsettling in a very understated way.
Bates (Brian) The Real Middle Earth.
Dust off your woad dyed hessian tunic and rediscover your inner Anglo-Saxon. A guide to Dark Age life style and spirituality, which may be experiencing something of a revival following the popularity of Game of Thrones, The Last Kingdom, and Beowulf. Remember to accessorise with leather pouches, don't forget your runes, go easy on the mead, and you should fit in just fine.
Brooks, Max World War Z. 2012. London. Gerald Duckworth.
Everyone needs at least one novel about the zombie apocalypse on their bookshelves, and you could do a lot worse than make it this one. Mass panic, government ineptitude and corporate greed all feel very familiar and are recounted through a series of gripping first person interviews. Read as an allegory you can substitute the pandemic of your choice and it sounds painfully convincing. It may pursuade you that the time is right to treat yourself to that biohazard suit and breathing apparatus paraphenalia that you've been promising yourself.
Cope (Julian) The Modern Antiquarian. London; Pan MacMillan.
Pre-history filtered through the crooked vision(ary) of the Tamworth modern mystic. If Julian Cope didn't exist it would be necessary to invent him.
Garrett (Leslie) The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance. London; Penguin. London; Penguin.
Alarmist and sensational, and all the better for it. As we destroy ancient ecological systems, gaia gains retribution by unleasing species leaping infections that were previously confined to indigenous species in their isolated habitats. The infections spread rapidly because of global travel and densely populated cities. Our increasing resistance to over used anti biotics mean that we are powerless to respond. Health care systems are over whelmed and the bodies pile up in the streets and a toxic feedback loop ensues that is unstoppable. The zombie apocalypse is upon us!
Hancock (G) Fingerprints of the Gods. 1995. London; Heinemann.
The comet's on its' way, so expect cataclysmic changes resulting in the melting of the polar ice caps, catastrophic flooding, and mass extinctions. It's happened before, and the next event may be immiment, so ready your coracle! He comes across as a more plausible David Icke, without the turquoise suit mercifully, and compiles impressive evidence, presented with impeccable clarity, for a lost civilisation. All the archeologists say he's talking rubbish of course.
Hutton (R) Stations of the Sun. 1996. Oxford University Press.
A constructive debunking of many of the assumptions surrounding our long cherished traditions. He manages to combine this with a respect for the origins and meanings behind the rituals of the ceremonial year, supported with rigorous scholarship. Our most prominent pagan academic, he has been known to sport a jabot on occasions. He's very coy about his own beliefs, but i think it is safe to assume they arn't mainstream. I would probably read his laundry list if he published it.
Knight (peter) The Cerne Giant. 2013. Wiltshire; Stone Seeker Publishing.
Jensen (D) A Language Older than Words.
You'll never look at the world in quite the same way again. A prolonged and anguished howl concerning ecological anihilation and sexual violence that stays in your head long after you finish the last page.
McCarthy (Michael) Say Goodbye to the Cuckoo. 2009. London; John Murray.
An accessible , gentle and wise guide to the mysteries of bird migration and the songs that they sing. A reminder, if any were needed, to show gratitude for this natural phenomonen while we still have the chance. A humbling read.
Michaels (Anne) Fugitive Pieces
The first third of the book is astonishing in a quietly insistent way, and the humanity seeps out of the pages like blood. The prose has an acoustic sadness and feels almost like a sombre piece of chamber music, and I was left feeling both haunted and euphoric. The writer is better known as a poet, and it shows.
Strong (Marilee) Bright Red Scream.
Forget all the glib, misinformed nonsense you hear peddled about self harm and learn about the more complex reality. A compassionate and compelling piece of journalism gives voice to those cutters, gougers, pickers and scrapers who explain the pain behind the actions.
Sheldrake (Rupert) The Science Delusion
An attempt to debunk the debunkers via morphic resonance, the extended mind and other such parapsychological gymnastics. It's difficult to resist a writer who had the conviction to publish a book called Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home, which contains much material of fascination on the mental abilities of animals. Ignore strange behaviour by your pets at your peril, as they may be warning you of an impending catastrophe.
Thorpe (Adam) On Silbury Hill. 2014. Toller Fatrum, Dorset:Little Toller.
Pre-history through the prism of a Malborough schooling and recurrent revisits to Wiltshire's ancient constructions. A respectful mystery pervades this memoir that explores the enigma of Silbury Hill.. Young (Rob) Electric Eden. 2011. London: Faber and Faber.
A majesterial survey of Britain's visionary music. Like all the best books, it led me down many undiscovered paths to new and unexpected delights.
Woolfson (Esther) Corvus: A Life with Birds. 2008. London; Granta.