A Life on Our Planet by David Attenborough

“We moved from being a part of nature to being apart from nature.”

I’m baaaaaccccck! I passed my program with flying colours and can now relax with my books again.

4/5 stars.
ebook, 274 pages.
Read from December 9, 2020 to December 15, 2020.

Outside of my obsession with cats, if you know anything about me, it’s how much I love nature documentaries. I don’t care for TV or movies but a good nature documentary I am always in for. This brings me to Sir David Attenborough, the narrator KING of nature documentaries. I will watch anything with this man in it. His voice is soothing, entertaining, and captivating. It will be a sad day for this planet when this man passes.

This book is a testament to Attenborough’s life and work, it is his “witness statement” as he refers to it. The book is part autobiographical as it discusses the beginnings of Attenborough’s interest in nature and our world when he was just a child, to how he got involved with the BBC and became the figure that we know today. However, this is to give credence to the message and statement that Attenborough wants to leave you with. Attenborough wants to bring to your attention to the rapid decline of biodiversity and changes in our world that he has personally witnessed throughout his life in exploring our world and all of its inhabitants. Attenborough discusses how we got to this place of decline with solutions that we can take now to prevent and heal the current damage. His tone is intensely urgent but non-judgemental and still very hopeful. At 93 years old he wants you to know what change has happened in his lifetime alone and putting into words a lasting statement of what he dedicated his life to. Attenborough hopes that future generations can take action and reap the benefits of a healthy and sustainable planet and future.

“We have come as far as we have because we are the cleverest creatures to have ever lived on Earth. But if we are to continue to exist, we will require more than intelligence. We will require wisdom.”

This book is meant to alarm you and make you feel uncomfortable but it also talks about people and businesses that are doing their part and how you have the power to as well. Attenborough’s writing is as cohesive and soothing as his voice making for a pleasurable read.

“We often talk of saving the planet, but the truth is that we must do these things to save ourselves. With or without us, the wild will return.”

Is Attenborough doing enough? Many vegans would argue that no, he is not. Attenborough is not a strict vegan or vegetarian though, he has, in recent years, substantially reduced his meat intake. Attenborough may not be vegan or vegetarian but he has a voice that he is using and that people will listen to. As a vegetarian myself, I believe that this a deeply personal choice that you cannot force it upon people and that real change comes with informed choices. With work like Attenborough’s and with him lending his voice to such an essential and necessary cause, it helps people make more scientifically backed, ethical, and informed choices in their own time. One of the reasons that Attenborough is so successful is that he is palatable and reaches people from all walks of life. He also has a firm belief in humanity to make good choices that will improve the life of everything on this planet. This delicate balance in advocacy that creates urgency and not fear, choice and not threats, is why his work is so valued and why he has reached so many.

“Everything is set for us to win this future. We have a plan. We know what to do. There is a path to sustainability. It is a path that could lead to a better future for all life on Earth. We must let our politicians and business leaders know that we understand this, that this vision for the future is not just something we need, it is something, above all, that we want.”

If I could recommend one wholesome and thought-provoking book to help you realise the state of our planet and how it’s not too late to make a difference, it would be this one.

“All we require is the will. The next few decades represent a final opportunity to build a stable home for ourselves and restore the rich, healthy and wonderful world that we inherited from our distant ancestors. Our future on the planet, the only place as far as we know where life of any kind exists, is at stake.”

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

“The land claims what you leave behind.”

3/5 stars.
ebook, 279 pages.
Read from November 10, 2020 to November 16, 2020.

This book was the first book I read as part of a book club that I recently joined and let me tell you, it is so great to be a part of a real and live person book club again. To hang around fellow book nerds, consume copious amounts of beer, and talk about books that you may never have come across otherwise. It really is the best.

This book is the start of an emergence of a new genre of books that is a horror-based fiction that is set within Native American folklore and tales. The story blends the whimsical nature of the oral stories from the Native tradition with a classic slasher and psychological horror feel, that also becomes a modern social commentary on Native Americans today.

Set in a small town in the modern-day United States, four Native American men share an experience from their youth that has begun to come back to haunt them. They broke sacred hunting rules and now, ten years after the event, an elk entity is hellbent on revenge for the lives that they should not have taken. The opening death scene of one of the men sets the horrifying precedence of the book in terms of horror as well as the enduring racism and cultural and identity struggles that they all face. As the story progresses, you get to hear the voice of this entity and the stories intertwined with it, especially as it continues to successfully exact its vengeance.

I’ll admit, I didn’t enjoy this book after initially finishing it. It has an amazing concept and presence but I found the writing style really jostling. Its approach was just not for me. As the book draws nearer to the end, the story becomes very strange, and at times, hard to follow as you become more intertwined in the narrative of the entity. This style of writing made a lot of sections of this book a slog and hard to get through. When I first finished this story, I gave it a 2-star rating but after I had my book club meeting I changed my rating to 3 stars as the book created such amazing discussions, even though many of my fellow book club members struggled with this book like I did, we all came to appreciate the depth of this book after discussing it. This book is meant to make you uncomfortable. It’s supposed to make you feel as helpless as the characters in the story as you acknowledge the physical horror that occurs but also the social horrors that they face and that many Native Americans still face.

Would I read this book again? No, but I’m glad that it exists and that I read it. I would love to read more books that are similar to this one that intertwines the Native American experience with horror. There is actually a Netflix movie called “Hold the Dark” that reminded me a lot of this book as it follows a similar pretence.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

“Three words, large enough to tip the world. I remember you.”

4/5 stars.
ebook, 502 pages.
Read from November 23, 2020 to November 26, 2020.

Another great library find! This book was exactly what I needed during a difficult time. I’ve read a lot of reviews on this book since finishing it and I can see that many readers didn’t jive with this book but for me, it was the perfect escape and I’m going to stand behind the praise I’m going to give it.

This story starts in the early 1700s in a small village in France in which a young Addie makes a frantic decision to avoid being forcefully married off. Despite the warnings of her grandmother, she makes a deal with one of the old gods during the night, of which nothing good can come. She wants the ability to live her own life by her own rules and commits to living forever until she is tired of living of which she will then give up her soul to this bargain maker. The catch with this deal is that no one will ever remember her. Not her family, not anyone she meets, she will always be forgotten. At first, Addie is crushed by her choice since her own family has no recollection of who she is and is cast out of their home. The first part of her immortality is full of misery and strife until she comes to use this forgetfulness to her own advantage. Her story spans across centuries and different countries with the god, Luc, constantly trying to find ways to get her to give up her immortal life. Their relationship turns into a complex one as Luc is the only being that knows and remembers her causing Addie to both desire his company and be repulsed by it at the same time. Addie, however, is content and is constantly in awe at the possibilities and experiences that the world has to offer and she finds innovative ways she can make an impact and inspire others. She has commanded her life and her freedom as she sees fit and yet… and yet she still yearns to have someone remember her. Everything changes when she meets Henry in a bookshop who remembers her name. She hasn’t heard her name on the lips of someone mortal in centuries. So why does this one man remember her after hundreds of years of passing through people’s lives?

“Books, she has found, are a way to live a thousand lives–or to find strength in a very long one.”

Addie’s character and the dynamics with both Henry and Luc were my favourite part of this story. The writing is subtle in building these relationships creating a slower burner of tension and anticipation. The writing is elegant and references history and art in an intriguing way while also creating a journey and characters that you want to follow. I found the story compelling and easy to read. It made me feel at ease and gave me something to look forward to during a sad time in my life. While I see some other readers struggled with the story and/or characters in this book it was perfect for what I needed and I anticipate it will be a book I will read again as it was a wonderful story to escape into. The story is character-heavy but highly imaginative and is an ideal book to lose yourself in amidst this pandemic. This book reminds me of The Time Traveler’s Wife but with more whimsical elements and I think if you enjoyed that story you will likely also find something this one.

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