Saturday 22 January 2022

Saturday 22nd January - Books to last a whole year

 For several years now I have always had a book that I read slowly, over the course of the whole year.

 The first time this happened, I was reading ‘The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris. This is a series of essays, written through twelve months, beginning in September, during a time when she was exploring monastic traditions and recording how she responded to them as a frequent visitor to various monasteries. Maybe a bit niche, but fascinating, not only for the spiritual insights, but also for the richly poetic writing. I was torn between wanting to follow her journey and also needing to take time to reflect and savour the words, so I decided to keep pace with her over the course of the months. 

After this I was hooked on the idea of a book as companion for a year. Here are a few that I have already followed in this fashion.

‘The Almanac - a seasonal guide’ is compiled by Lia Leendertz. She writes a new version every year, with nature notes, gardening notes, recipes, phases of the moon and stars, tide tables, and more for every month. I love the illustrations; delicate black and white drawings scattered through the text.


‘One Woman’s Year’ by Stella Martin Currey, originally published in 1953. Each It is an engaging mixture of anecdotes, stories in which her family makes an appearance, recipes, anthology of prose and poems from a time when life was very different to today. The cover is plain grey, like most Persephone Books, so I have taken the illustration from the publisher’s website,  which is well worth a visit if you can't get to the shop in Bath. Although I have seen some of their books for sale in various bookshops.

I have promised that I will constrain myself to buying just one book, and no more, per month from them this year. Of course, that doesn’t include any secondhand bargains that I might trip across! 

‘The Wild Remedy’ by Emma Mitchell, through the year. This is the account of how being out and about in woods and fields helps her overcome the deep and dark depression that threatens to overwhelm her every Winter. Just looking at the photographs and illustrations inspires me to go outside and look at what is growing.

This year I have bought ‘The Country Life Cookery Book’ by Ambrose Heath, illustrated by Eric Ravilious and originally published in 1937. Food cookery was very different back then.


I was given ‘A Year Unfolding – A Printmaker’s View’ by Angela Harding just before Christmas. She records the view from her studio window through the seasons with a commentary, so that is also keeping me company this year.

 Those two books should have been enough, but I have just spotted ‘The Morville Year’ by Katherine Swift for sale on a secondhand book seller’s site for the ridiculous price of just a couple of pounds, including delivery. Too good to miss! 





  1. It's a very good idea! I do like this idea. I need to start reading my Oswald Chambers, 'My utmost for his highest again' as I enjoyed that as a daily book!
    I like the Wild remedy one as an idea!

  2. I will pursue some of these ideas.