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4.19  ·  Rating details ·  1,207 ratings  ·  156 reviews
It's surprising what you can find by simply stepping out to look. Kathleen Jamie, award winning poet, has an eye and an ease with the nature and landscapes of Scotland as well as an incisive sense of our domestic realities. In Findings she draws together these themes to describe travels like no other contemporary writer. Whether she is following the call of a peregrine in ...more
Paperback, 190 pages
Published June 2nd 2005 by Sort Of Books
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Average rating 4.19  · 
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 ·  1,207 ratings  ·  156 reviews

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Jan 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I have been looking forward to reading this book since I read its equally brilliant sequel/companion piece Sightlines last year. Jamie brings a quiet poetic eye to her observations of both the natural world and modern humanity, making many intriguing connections.

She succeeds in making a beautiful and unified whole from essays on a very varied set of subjects, ranging from the nature of darkness, birdwatching, remote uninhabited Scottish islands, the view from Edinburgh's Calton Hill and a museu
Jun 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, 5-stars
In just over 2 weeks, my wife and I will leave home to head, for the sixth time in as many years for a holiday on an island off the west cost of Scotland. We’ve been to Islay, Skye, Arran and Mull (twice) and this time we will take our courage in both hands and go further still into the Outer Hebrides.

Reading Findings has definitely heightened my excitement about this upcoming holiday. Much of the book is set in the Inner and Outer Hebrides and I suppose this might partly explain why I enjoyed r
Nov 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Mark by: Brian Robbins
Reading poetry , i suppose, is a little like entering into a relationship with someone much more than in a novel or history or even, oddly in a biography or autobiography. In those prose works you encounter, to an extent, from a distance but in Poetry you encounter the person their opinions and feelings and sometimes even their innermost thoughts that maybe they are not even too sure or certain about. I know that when i write my own paltry stuff because i find I often reveal far more that I real ...more
May 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Recommended to Anna by: Bridget
The third of my library-of-friendship borrowings, 'Findings' is a loose collection of elegantly written and evocative vignettes. Most involve investigating wildlife on remote Scottish islands, but my favourites concerned Edinburgh. Jamie writes of the search for corncrakes and whales, of salmon and peregrine falcons. In Edinburgh, she recounts a trip to Surgeon's Hall museum (which I have thus far been too squeamish to visit) and views from Carlton Hill seen through a telescope. I enjoyed these ...more
Oct 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Finding this book - in a charity shop, with a long train journey ahead - was a piece of serendipity.

It's hard to know quite why this series of essays and reflections is so enjoyable. The poet Kathleen Jamie describes her explorations of the natural world. Some pieces focus on the area round her home, others on her travels around remoter areas of Scotland. There are a couple of sections devoted to her discoveries of little-known parts of Edinburgh.

Maybe it's the unflashy beauty of her measured pr
I read a little of this book of nature essays ten years ago, not long after it was released (and highly praised). I was underwhelmed. Yet the same characteristics I wasn't keen on then are what I enjoyed now.

In the intervening decade, a strand of mystically, historically inclined nature writing has become popular. My theory (as I've mentioned already to some friends) is that many of these authors, in their thirties and forties, fellow late Gen-X'ers, grew up on series I also loved, for example,
Jul 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: walking, read-in-2015
"The water was Sheeny in the gloaming"

I love that line. This was a wonderful book, easily one of the best I have ever read.

I was expecting it to be good and all about nature, what I wasn't expecting was to be taken into the authors life, to experience all that she was going through, all the family issues. You really get to feel just how much she wants to escape from it all and be at peace with nature.

A couple of favourite parts in the book were scouring the remote Scottish island beaches for any
There is something about the way that Jamie writes that captivates and immerses you in the subject that she writes about.

This book is no exception to that.

The subject, or short essays, that are in this book are not exclusively about the natural world, but most are. As she writes on the matter at hand, I feel her passion and her strengths, her weakness and doubts, and all the time I am amazed by the attention to detail that she has in her prose. It doesn't seem to make any difference whether she
Aug 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
I really tried with this, and did at least manage to get to the end - unlike on my last attempt. However, I still much prefer Annie Dillard.

There are some gems in the collection - sentences or phrases, but I quickly wearied of Jamie's tone. I think I'd have got on better if she had restricted herself to what she saw, rather than tell me what she thought about it and so what I was to think. Once she 'stepped in' so to speak, I became acutely aware of The Author, and was frankly irritated by her c
Jan 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
One of my favourite nature writers, her poetry and her essays are very comforting to settle into and her subtle connections between the world of humans and nature, often as elusive as a random bird or moth sighting itself.

Read my full review here at Word by Word.
Liam Drew
May 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a brilliant book. This is something I want to state loudly and clearly, but to raise one's voice or to engage in a millimeter of hyperbole or to even state something in absolute terms feels almost as if it would betray this quiet, constantly questioning book.

Across eleven chapters, Jamie invites the reader to share with her something that has absorbed her - which may be a pair of nesting pereguine falcons, an old tomb that catches the sun just so, or the ailing health of her grandmother
Nikki Mcgee
May 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: natural-history
Beautifully observed and written, particularly the sections focused on the wildlife and scenery. I found myself looking up animals and birds as they were featured and I could feel myself walking and quietly observing with the author. As someone who is quite a solitary person who also enjoys just walking on my own, soaking up the world around me I loved certain essays.

However I did skip certain essays that were very focused in ther family or Edinburgh, I think I prefer animals to people! Having
Jan 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Beautiful essays, some of them definitely fives. Her first piece on traveling to Orkney in the hope of witnessing the winter solstice sunset from the entrance to the neolithic Maes Howe cairn tomb; her essay about (or "about") salmon struggling to climb the waterfalls on the river Braan to spawn; her paean to the lowly corncrake, poster bird for British preservationists; her poetic description of the macabre specimens in the Edinburgh Surgeon's Hall from the late 18th and early 19th centuries; h ...more
Jan 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction16
I loved this. Each and every part of it. I liked how Jamie shared a little of her life, within the context of her engagement with the greater world around her. I like the way she looks at things, and thinks and feels. I like the way she writes. I found this book both comforting and greatly encouraging to my own life and writing. A big thumbs up!
Jul 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think this is probably the best non-fiction book I've ever read. ...more
Aug 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Beautiful, poetic writing. A book to read when you're looking for inner peace. ...more
Dec 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Easily the best book of 2019...and 2019 has been a great year!
Apr 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
As many regular readers of my blog may have noticed, I don’t read as much non-fiction as I often feel I should. I tend therefore to be a little picky about what non-fiction books I do read. Having seen several reviews of Kathleen Jamie’s volumes of essays this has been on the horizon of books I must read for a little while. Finding myself in the mood for something a little different I downloaded it to my kindle just the other day deciding to read it straight away. Now that is the wonderful thing ...more
Feb 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Kathleen Jamie, it seems, has the practice of taking herself off to explore. She goes to remote places “because language fails me there. If we work always in words, sometimes we need to recuperate in a place where language doesn’t join up…”. The irony is that she then proceeds to describe these places, and people that she encounters, in simple, accessible, luminous prose.

This book is an assembly of 11 unconnected pieces, call them essays, or traveller’s tales, or stories told as if to a mute lis
Julian Hoffman
Mar 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nature, nonfiction
Findings opens in the author’s home, mid-winter, amidst talk of Christmas shopping and school parties, as Jamie offers a meditation on darkness and light, those two symbolic seeds long nurtured at opposite ends of our garden of myth and memory—and her subtle, observant eye reveals what flourishes in between. Like Gilbert White in The Natural History of Selborne, written well over two hundred years earlier, Jamie reminds us that the local parish—the domestic familiar—can be as richly revealing as ...more
Rachel Lofthouse
Dec 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel, nature, scotland
Findings is a beautifully written book that I have already read twice in a twelve-month period. The content provides a brief insight into Scottish everyday life, its breath-taking scenery, wildlife and history. Descriptions are detailed and guide you perfectly to see what the author sees. The skylines chapter is so accurate that when I saw a photo of the said city’s rooftops I had no doubt as to the city the rooftops belong. I enjoyed this book mainly because of how talented the writer is. As a ...more
Feb 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Mary Oliver would appreciate the keen attention Kathleen Jamie pays. The part of me that is completely enthralled with nature writing (and Scotland) does too.

A favorite excerpt or two:

-The birds live at the edge of my life. That’s okay. I like the sense that the margins of my life are semi-permeable.

- Could I explain to Phil that — though there was a time, maybe 24 hours, when I genuinely believed his life to be in danger — I had not prayed? But I had noticed, more than noticed, the cobwebs, an
Brian Robbins
Sep 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: natural-world
Writing on a par with Roger Deakin and Robert Macfarlane. Interweaves the personal experiences and anecdotes, with a wider world, largely the natural world, but goes beyond that too into history and metaphysics.

Macfarlain and Deakin are both masters of prose, she brings the poets ability to hone in on specific images in very few words, and very well chosen words at that, to create very tangible scenes and scenery in very brief paragraphs.

The book is wonderfully readable and enjoyable. Some boo
Pat Morris-jones
Apr 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have little interest in birds, or buildings details or anything else she describes usually. Not terribly liking of poetry. However she writes so beautifully. I can tell she is a poet. The language is so very....not sure of the word. It is one long narrative poem, short story collection and so on. Yet, it is none of these. No idea why only 4 star but I am being harsh I think.
May 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Jamie is a keen observer and a thoughtful writer. These essays observe the world of Scotland from its remote islands to its metropolitan skyline, and Jamie thinks about farms and fields with the same acumen and intelligent interest as she does early surgery and changing ecosystems.
Mar 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
All the superlatives! Jamie's writing is fantastic, and I can't wait to read more of her stuff. ...more
Abhishek Kona
Nov 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
‘The island is ringed with beaches of flawless sand, backed by huge dunes [...] the air smells of seaweed. The sea and its surf is never far away, a constant Atlantic soughing, a sense that the land is an interruption in a long conversation between water and sky.’
I’m reading my way through Kathleen Jamie’s earlier work as I enjoyed Surfacing so much. The essays in this collection map different Scottish landscapes, from the Orkney islands to the skyline of Edinburgh, and consider human and natur
Feb 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Some of the observations are just brilliant, others didn't really connect with me, but either way I enjoyed the easy style of this book. ...more
Aug 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays, non-fiction, 2020
Her language is so exquisite that I can hardly handle it (and, in fact, couldn't handle the chapter on remains preserved in jars - but that's down to me rather than the writing, which is uniformly sublime). ...more
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The Book Vipers: Findings 9 87 Jun 25, 2013 01:57PM  

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Kathleen Jamie is a poet, essayist and travel writer, one of a remarkable clutch of Scottish writers picked out in 1994 as the ‘new generation poets’ – it was a marketing ploy at the time but turns out to have been a very prescient selection. She became Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Stirling in 2011.

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“We couldn't see the real dark for the metaphorical dark. Because of the metaphorical dark, the death-dark, we were constantly concerned to banish the natural dark.” 6 likes
“Isn't that a kind of prayer? The care and maintenance of the web of our noticing, the paying heed?” 3 likes
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