blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Thirteen Ways to Smell a Tree – David George Haskell

Thirteen Ways to Smell a Tree takes you on a journey to connect with trees through the sense most aligned to our emotions and memories. Thirteen essays are included that explore the evocative scents of trees, from the smell of a book just printed as you first open its pages, to the calming scent of Linden blossom, to the ingredients of a particularly good gin & tonic:

In your hand: a highball glass, beaded with cool moisture.

In your nose: the aromatic embodiment of globalized trade. The spikey, herbal odour of European juniper berries. A tang of lime juice from a tree descended from wild progenitors in the foothills of the Himalayas. Bitter quinine, from the bark of the South American cinchona tree, spritzed into your nostrils by the pop of sparkling tonic water.

Take a sip, feel the aroma and taste three continents converge.

Thirteen Ways to Smell a Tree also contains everyday practices the reader is invited to experience. For example, taking a tree inventory of your own home, appreciating just how many things around us came from trees. And if you’ve ever hugged a tree when no one was looking, try breathing in the scents of different trees that live near you, the smell of pine after the rain, the refreshing, mind-clearing scent of a eucalyptus leaf crushed in your hand.

David Haskell is a writer and biologist known for his integration of science, lyrical writing, and close observation of the living world. The late E. O. Wilson said of his writing that it is “…a new genre of nature writing, located between science and poetry”. Deborah Blum, Pulitzer Prize winner and director of the Knight Science Journalism program at MIT, wrote that he “may be the finest literary nature writer working today”.

Haskell’s books — The Forest Unseen, The Songs of Trees, Thirteen Ways to Smell a Tree, and Sounds Wild and Broken — are acclaimed for their attention to the richness of the living world and the ecological and evolutionary stories that bring this richness into being. They have won numerous awards including the US National Academies’ Best Book Award, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in non-fiction, Reed Environmental Writing Award, National Outdoor Book Award, Iris Book Award, and John Burroughs Medal.

Born in London, brought up in France, he has lived for the last thirty years in various parts of the United States, including Tennessee, Colorado, and New York. Haskell received his BA from the University of Oxford and PhD from Cornell University. He is a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London, a Guggenheim Fellow, and Professor at the University of the South in Sewanee, TN, where he has received numerous awards for excellence in teaching.

In a world beset by barriers, his work reminds us that life’s substance and beauty emerge from relationship and interdependence. Find him at or on social media @DGHaskell (Twitter), DavidGeorgeHaskell (Instagram and Facebook).

My thoughts: this was a very interesting little book. In 13 essays exploring the history of trees, either individually or taken as a whole (there are chapters on books, gin and olive oil as well as oaks, gingko, and ash) and their vital importance, impact and role in our lives.

We probably don’t notice the trees around us the way we should, and although I’m not sure I’m quite at the sniffing trees stage, I certainly want to engage more with nature. London supposedly has enough trees to technically be a forest, although sometimes it can be hard to find them amid our concrete and glass.

But without trees human history would be very different and they remain so very central to life today. These essays cover a huge range of time, geography and uses – paper, food, fuel, health, that trees have been used for by us, while also providing homes and food for thousands of birds, animals and insects.

Whether you’re a nature lover or just curious about history or the environment, this book is worth a little read.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Almanac – Lia Leendertz

The sixth instalment of the bestselling season guide is here!

Reconnect with the seasons in Britain and Ireland with this month-by-month guide to the world around us – including key dates, tide tables and garden tasks; constellations and moon phases; sunrises, folk songs, seasonal recipes plus a ‘bun of the month’; and – because 2023 will be a good year for planet spotting – the solar system and the zodiac.

The Almanac: A Seasonal Guide to 2023 gives you all the tools and inspiration you need to celebrate, mark, and appreciate each month of the year in your own particular way.

Divided into the 12 months, a set of tables each month gives it the feel and weight of a traditional almanac, providing practical information that gives access to the outdoors and the seasons, perfect for walks, expeditions, meteor-spotting nights and beach holidays. There are also features on each month’s unique nature, with this instalment following the swirling micro world of the garden pond through the year. You will find yourself referring to The Almanac all year long, revisiting it again and again, and looking forward to the next edition as the year draws to a close.

Lia Leendertz is an awardwinning garden and food writer based in Bristol. Her reinvention of the traditional rural almanac has become an annual must-have for readers eager to connect with the seasons, appreciate the outdoors and discover ways to mark and celebrate each month. Now established as the bestselling almanac on the market, this is the sixth instalment. Find out more about Lia at: @lia_leendertz @lialeendertz

My thoughts: this is a delightful little book, beautifully illustrated and currently at risk of being permanently “borrowed” by anyone who has spotted it on my book stack.

I know farmers used to use almanacs to predict weather patterns and I think my Grandad used to have a cricketing one years ago so I was fascinated by this lovely book. I really want to reconnect with nature a bit more and I think this will be useful as it explains all sorts of things and offers up recipes, songs and other almost forgotten folk knowledge.

It’s also a lovely object to have and keep out where anyone can leaf through it and learn a bit about the month and nature. Delightful.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.