Manchán Magan, author of Thirty-Two Words for Field : Lost Words of the Irish Landscape, recommends a fantastic list of books! Before jumping into the interview, please check out Manchán's book:
Q. Do you have a favourite smart thinking book (and why that book)?
Peter Wohlleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees altered my entire take on the natural world when I first read it 3 years ago. His insights about how trees communicate with each other, how they protect each other and live in complex, mutually beneficial relationship with each other was totally revelatory. It changed everything about how I regarded nature, and how I imagined humans fitting in to the natural world. The idea that nature isn‘t competing, but cooperating is so powerful. And, of course it’s not just an idea, Wohlleben clearly lays out the latest science that proves this. It’s a humble, poetic, visionary book that cannot but make one realise how precious and complex natural ecosystems are, and how vital it is that we protect and preserve them. This simple eloquent book will make you rethink everything to assumed about the natural world.
Q. What's the most recent smart thinking book you've read (and how would you rate it)?
My most recent Smart Thinking Book is Wildings by Isabella Tree. In a time of such uncertainty and despair about how to live sustainably on the land, how to live in harmony with nature and how to feed people in an ethical and ecological way, Isabella Tree paints an idyllic vision of an alternative world; one that is utterly practical and realistic. She has tried and tested every single idea she highlights. It is by far the most optimistic book I’ve read in many years and changes one’s whole perspective on how we can live in a thriving and successful way on this island. It introduces so many bold and revolutionary ideas, and makes one see how they really are practical and feasible, if we had the courage to implement them.
Q. Do you have a favourite childhood book?
My absolute favourite book as a child was the The Robber Hotzenplotz written by Otfried Preussler. It tells of a malevolent, but hapless robber who steals Kasperl’s granny’s musical coffee mill. Kasperl and his friend Seppel bravely head off on an adventure to retrieve it, but Hotzenplotz enlists the help of his wicked magician friend Petrosilius Zackleman, a gluttonous villain with a weakness for fried potatoes. The story is a bit like a Punch and Judy show, and is actually based on folk tales from a region in eastern Germany. The book is beautifully illustrated. It was first published in German in 1962 and was then translated in 34 languages, and sold 7.5 million copies.
Q. Do you prefer reading on paper, Kindle or listening to an audiobook?
I adore reading on paper. Too much of our lives are on screen already. I have a strong compulsion to keep away from digital formats after work. I like that I can easily skip ahead, or reread a piece, or scan it easily in a book, and that my brain has a spatial sense of where an idea or a fact was on any particular page.
Q. Do you have a favourite bookshop (and why that shop)?
For the pure romance of it, few bookshops can beat the great Atlantis Books in the tiny, white-washed, clifftop village of Oia on the Greek island of Santorini. It’s a bit like Shakespeare and Co in Paris, but even kookier and cosier. I worship libraries. All of them, in all counties and all countries. When I tell people about my previous travel books and my new book I always recommend they get it in a library. The sustainability of libraries is visionary. Librarians are now so kind, generous, helpful and knowledgeable compared to the prim, stern wardens of old. The advances in the library system in Ireland in recent years is astounding. I can order any book from any library in the country and then drop it back to any other library. It’s mind boggling!
Míle Buíochas / Many thanks to Manchán for recommending a fantastic list of books! Please don't forget to check out his book Thirty-Two Words for Field : Lost Words of the Irish Landscape.
Image Copyrights: Gill (Thirty-Two Words For Field), HarperCollins Publishers (The Hidden Life Of Trees), Pan Macmillan (Wilding), Thienemann (The Robber Hotzenplotz).