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Wildwood: A Journey through Trees

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  1,604 ratings  ·  149 reviews

Here, published for the first time in the United States, is the last book by Roger Deakin, famed British nature writer and icon of the environmentalist movement. In Deakin's glorious meditation on wood, the "fifth element"as it exists in nature, in our culture, and in our souls the reader accompanies Deakin through the woods of Britain, Europe, Kazakhstan, and Australia in

Hardcover, 391 pages
Published 2007 by Hamish Hamilton
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Average rating 4.13  · 
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 ·  1,604 ratings  ·  149 reviews

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May 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was a lovely piece of nature writing. It wasn’t as poetic as say, Annie Dillard, but the writing didn’t come across as overly technical either. It was a book that made me want to camp out under the boughs of a British forest – to rebuild the ruins of a 400 year old timber frame house – to watch a craftsman at his lathe, turning wood into art.

Much of this book relates the author’s own experiences in the woods. In 1969, he moved to Suffolk and bought the ruins of a Tudor-era oak-framed
Apr 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
A really beautiful book. Even the din on a packed rush-hour bus in downtown Chicago couldn't banish the magic that Deakin conjures up. I felt transported to a forest at dusk, and could hear the wind in the trees. I think the word "enchanting" is overused in book reviews, but in this case I think it's the perfect adjective, this book is literally enchanting.
Mar 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: meus
I did not like the first chapter of this book where the author dwells on his geneology and the link of his family names with words related to plants and forests. I was sarting to feel disappointed with my decision to purchase it, when the second chapter (about housesheds) began and I loved it. Then came a description of the author's study, all the objects in it and te memories they stirred. This one was mostly OK, although I found it a bit boring at times. The book went on like this for a while, ...more
Jul 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fellow tree-huggers
Recommended to Meaghan by: caught my eye at the book store, read the reviews on the back
I am often apprehensive about reading nature writing because I am afraid that it won't hold my attention. I think in many cases something is lost in translation from the organic to the intellectual. Our inside and outside selves are kept separate entities these days. I have struggled recently with finding a way to bridge these two parts of my self (the nature-loving, spontaneous part with the studious, hard-working, methodical part). Deakin offered hope that it was possible to do this. ...more
Oct 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who is interested in trees.
Recommended to Alison by: Margaret Smart
I love this book so much! I haven't finished reading it yet, because I want to savour it gently and slowly. I'm a country woman, born on the egde of a wood, brought up on the edge of another - and I felt as if Roger Deakin was telling me things I'd always known but never articulated properly. I have enjoyed exploring some of his themes - the woodcraft of David Nash, the painting of Mary Newcombe - I feel educated by the onw book. This is a book which has made me grow! I borrowed it from the ...more
Jul 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Once again, this book was a total inspiration. I now so want to go and find a little cabin somewhere in the midst of a wood so as to experience something of this man's wonder. Fantastic
Apr 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
A great book, very detailed. The author takes you a very detailed journey with him through the woods, desert or wherever he is. It was like an escape, I read it in winter and I felt like like I was right there with him looking at nature. Would highly recommend for any nature lover of trees and fauna. I hope to read another book he has also written.
Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
Robert Deakin's writing is wonderful. He makes the many subjects of wood and the woods so interesting, something that could easily have been very bland. This book covers many aspects of wood and should be read more as a collection of essays rather than a running whole. Some of the chapters do follow a logical storytelling order, although others do not. Also take in mind that you won't find everything Deakin talks about to be interesting, he covers a wide array of subjects surrounding wood, and ...more
Sep 06, 2010 rated it did not like it
"Here, published for the first time in the United States, is the last book by Roger Deakin, famed British nature writer and icon of the environmentalist movement. In Deakin's glorious meditation on wood, the 'fifth element' -- as it exists in nature, in our culture, and in our souls -- the reader accompanies Deakin through the woods of Britain, Europe, Kazakhstan, and Australia in search of what lies behind man's profound and enduring connection with trees.

"Deakin lives in forest shacks, goes
Karen Mace
Nov 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a wonderful journey into the world of trees and woods thanks to a brilliant writer! It is often the simplest of paragraphs that manages to capture the essence of the love affair many of us have with trees, and the magical places that forests and woods are. Through his own experiences we are taken on a fascinating look at the ways in which trees enchant us all through art, woodcraft, literature and more. Inspiring.

I'm off to hug a tree!!
Mar 13, 2016 rated it liked it
I don't know what I was expecting from this book. Maybe an insight into the mythological impact of woods and how they have shaped our culture and our way of life.

Instead we have a sort of biography from a slightly odd old hippy who has a wooden railway carriage in his garden. The slightly make-shift nature of his house reflects the makeshift nature of the book, it flits from wood to wood and never really gets under the skin of the wood. Neither is his life very interesting. He seems to be a bit
Jun 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I read this book on the recommendation of Geoff Manaugh, the founder of (which is fantastic, by the way,a blog devoted to ‘architectural conjecture, urban speculation and landscape futures’) I am very glad that I found it. Not only is it fantastically well written, but it is such a simple and honest book about the pleasures of the woodlands, and of the experience of being in and around trees. For a seemingly limited topic, he covers a remarkable amount of ground, literally in some ...more
Dec 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book, there is something in it for everyone really, as the chapters are very diverse in subject matter, while still being liked by the overall theme of wood/trees. It reminded me of knowledge I already have and taught me interesting new things, and was a nice relaxed book to read gradually. There was the odd part that I skimmed over, but largely there was something about each chapter that caught my interest and kept me reading. The main reason for skimming was that I have a ...more
Oct 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This was probably my favourite read this year. It was akin, to me, of curling up in your dad's lap as a child, while he drones on about things that he adores that to you are simultaneously fascinating and mind-numbingly boring. And, like a dad, he is given to repeating parts of stories you've already heard. I really took my time reading this, because I haven't wanted it to end, and I think the book demands it. Deakin describes woodland scenes--which I think I for one take for granted--with a ...more
Shriram Sivaramakrishnan
Jul 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
How shall I begin reviewing..err..add my reviews to the universe of this book.

Once in a while (generally our lifetime), we come across a book that would literally change the world that we inhabit. It makes us question the very assumptions upon which we've based our life.

Wildwood, to me, is one such!

Never have I come across such a book on nature writing. In essence, it is about Wood, rather the imagination called Wood, in our lives. Here is a person who had lived where wood lived, not where the
Bruce Hatton
Dec 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: autobiography
Roger Deakin's second nature book explores the enduring fascination for what he calls the "fifth element". The mythical and mystical nature of woodland and the use of wood in architecture, furniture and artworks. As well as British woods, he explores those of France, Greece, Ukraine, Poland, Kazakhstan, and Australia. His descriptions of the different national attitudes to woodland put me in mind of Simon Scharma's "Landscape And Memory", particularly concerning the historical and legendary ...more
Aug 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I just reread this book and it's a joy. Roger Deakin lived for many years in a ramshackle house that he repaired partially and shared with birds, bats and trees that in part held the house up.

He tells of the house and animals around him. He also ambles further afield and tells of how wood is almost the 'fifth element' in human life and how we in the west have lost sight of its value and of course as a consequence have devastated our native forests.

But it's an optimistic book by a man who lived
Harold Rhenisch
Feb 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Such a wonderful journey through the world among trees. There are chapters here of astonishing beauty, especially the coppice hedges of England, the wild walnut and wild apple forests of Central Asia, and even a chapter (too short) on workshops and craft. The book sprawls a bit. Easily, it could have been three separate books: Europe, Asia and Australia. Each would have been stronger than this whole, but there's no need to shy from the book from a weak editing decision. The book is strongest, ...more
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some authors you imagine you'd actually like in person, not just on the page. Others, not so much. While I greatly admire Virginia Woolf's writing, e.g., and Doris Lessing's, they both strike me as people I would probably not have got along particularly well with in real life, for reasons of culture and upbringing as much as anything else. Actually, come to think of it, I often have this feeling with regard to female authors. I assume, rightly or wrongly, that I would find them formidable or ...more
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a book to start my year of with! This is going to be a tough act to follow.
Mar 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Each chapter is a story and each story is basically about trees. Best ones: stories about his house, the country with the apple trees, and the country with the walnut trees. Enjoyable reading for nature and tree lovers.
Dec 01, 2018 rated it liked it
A book to dip into and come back to. Some lovely nature writing, though now and then more about the man than his subject. In passing though, vignettes of artists and sculptors such as Margaret Nellie's driftwood sculptures and the work of Roger Nash really stand out.
Oct 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
i would have given this 5 stars, but it had some slow moments. however, overall, i loved it and uncharacteristically for me, i read it slowly, to savor it. it made me feel quiet and peaceful and it made me want to go sleep out in the yard (which i probably would have done if it wasn't november and pissing down rain all the time where i live). I learned new (for me) words like coppiced and winter-bournes. and i learned about the Green Man, that pagan throw-back found in churches and cemeteries, ...more
Chuck Erion
Apr 06, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
The emerald ash borer is having a devastating impact on the ash trees across southwestern Ontario.

As a wood lover, I’m familiar with the ash’s white clear grain, but would be hard-pressed to identify the tree in the wild or along a city street. This is ironic given the numbers: there are apparently 6,500 ash trees in Kitchener and more than 12,000 in Waterloo.

Which brings me to Wildwood — A Journey Through Trees (Penguin, 390 pages, $20) by the late Roger Deakin, a British nature writer and
Oct 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nature
I came to this book after reading The Wild Places by Robert MacFarlane, who went exploring with Roger Deakin and also told of his last illness from which he died, as well as dedicating The Wild Places to him. After enjoying The Wild Places greatly, hearing so much about Roger from that book, it was a natural reading rabbit trail from that book to this.

While I must say it sounds like Roger was a remarkable individual, I did not enjoy this as much as the Robert MacFarlane book. I felt at times
Apr 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: standard
This book started of so well with his insight and imaginative descriptions of his woodland and communities that use them. Also the historical aspect of forest and woods and their uses was interesting, but it started to drag and seemed to be unnecessarily dragged out in areas and when he went abroad the links to woodland became tenuous and and boring and had the air of the old imperial englishman abroad. The exception being the fruit forests which was interesting but even this dragged on and he ...more
Tamsin Barlow
May 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
A book written by one of England's great eccentrics -- he swam across England through streams, canals and lakes just to get closer to nature and observe the character of water. So who wouldn't want to read about his experiences and observations about trees? I love trees and feel a great interest in them so reading this rambling book has been very satisfying -- I'm not the only tree-hugger out there. Beautifully written, deeply insightful and dotted with captivating anecdotes -- and it starts ...more
I enjoyed Waterlog so much I was really looking forward to reading this. I grew up in the countryside and thought the hedge at the bottom of the garden was a giant forest. I did enjoy this very much, but it suffered in my eyes by not having the same parameters as Waterlog did- instead of being restricted to one location (the UK) this book takes a journey all round the world. Individual accounts were fascinating- i've already bored friends with tales about walnut harvesting, but I feel that this ...more
Sue Swisher
Jan 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written, a leisurely read that perfectly captures the rural landscapes, woodlands, customs, and people of the various forests that Deakin visits and appreciates. I feel I have personally seen and experienced the same woods that the author did. His first love is the Suffolk countryside near his home, but he has equally vivid descriptions of Australia, Greece, Kazakhstan, and the other places where people still live close to the land. Certain scenes will stick with you for a long ...more
Jan 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A deep love for the natural world pervades this book as does the wonder of a child. When you think about it, trees are pretty amazing things. The problem is, we often don't think about it. Thanks to Deakin, I will never look at an apple tree, a wood desk, the beams in my house in exactly the same way again. It is a reminder to slow down and look around. Each of the chapters in this book brings you to a different place where the rhythms of life are unhurried. The descriptions bring the various ...more
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Roger Stuart Deakin was an English writer, documentary-maker and environmentalist.

Educated at Haberdashers' Aske's and Peterhouse, Cambridge, where he read English, he first worked in advertising as a copywriter and creative director.

In 1968 he bought an Elizabethan moated farmhouse on the edge of Mellis Common, near Diss where he lived until his death from a brain tumour, first diagnosed only
“To enter a wood is to pass into a different world in which we ourselves are transformed.” 14 likes
“There's more truth about a camp than a house. Planning laws need not worry the improvising builder because temporary structures are more beautiful anyway, and you don't need permission for them. There's more truth about a camp because that is the position we are in. The house represents what we ourselves would like to be on earth: permanent, rooted, here for eternity. But a camp represents the true reality of things: we're just passing through.” 10 likes
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