Connecting with Life can be read either cover to cover, as it is eminently readable, or used as a handbook for rekindling one’s relationship with the natural world, to be kept on the shelf but dipped into now and then when you need a natural boost of encouragement to get outdoors. Summer’s debut book is all about giving urban readers encouragement to access nature in an urban world, but I found that even reading the book through rural eyes could have value. As I have become more ‘utilitarian’ in much of my reading this year (unsure why but this seems to be the case) I found his bullet points at the end each ‘solutions’ chapter helpful and positive, although it will not be to everybody’s structural taste, as some might believe it breaks the flow of prose. I disagree however, and found Summer’s approach positively refreshing.
This book tackles a lot of ground, from historical context, exploring the lifestyles of human ancestors in comparison with our modern lives today, to the sense, how we experience the natural world, the challenges of indoor living and the practicalities of designing a home, garden and lifestyle that can benefit both ourselves and the natural world. On a stylistic level, the hardback version of the book is also beautifully made, with its tactile, waxy cover.
Every so often we need a reminder to experience and embrace the gargantuan wonder of nature, and I believe that Summer is successful in encouraging readers down this line. A highly recommended book for your shelf this year. At a time when optimism is hard to come by, we can rest in the solace provided by nature and in works that celebrate its glory.
N.b Many thanks to Martin for providing me with a pre-publication copy of the book for review purposes.