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4.25  ·  Rating details ·  3,239 ratings  ·  452 reviews
Landmarks is Robert Macfarlane's joyous meditation on words, landscape and the relationship between the two.

Words are grained into our landscapes, and landscapes are grained into our words. Landmarks is about the power of language to shape our sense of place. It is a field guide to the literature of nature, and a glossary containing thousands of remarkable words used in En
Hardcover, 387 pages
Published March 5th 2015 by Hamish Hamilton
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Tim Regan Goodreads has some quotations from Landmarks here:

Perhaps that will help you get a feel for the language used…more
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Average rating 4.25  · 
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 ·  3,239 ratings  ·  452 reviews

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I rarely purchase books. I don't have the budget or the space; I'm not a collector of things. But every rare once in a while I come across a book so lovely and profound, one that speaks directly to the writer and poet in me, I know it is one I must have one my shelves. Landmarks is just such a book.

A collection of essays and reflections on place as well as a series of glossaries of geography, geology, topography, weather and all other possible aspects of the natural world, Landmarks is a gorgeo
My review of this just went up in the current issue of The Southeast Review! Such a gorgeous book:

Originally landed on my list thanks to one of the most beautiful articles I've read in a long time:
Jan 18, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful if idiosyncratic book on the language of landscape and nature.

Part of the book is a glossary of dialect, regional, slang, jargon and new coinages, organised by subject. These glossaries are lists of words and places where they are in use - linguists may note that the sources are rather selective.

The glossary sections are interspersed with essays that explain how this information was collected, and explore the worlds of some of Macfarlane's favourite nature writers - there is also a
Emma Sea
Wow. Amazing. What a lovely book, and one I will return to again and again. I must buy a dead tree copy to keep with my other reference books, for the numerous lists of terms relating to the landscape. And how beautiful that it concluded with children's experience of the land. Magical throughout. ...more
Carolyn Marie Castagna
May 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"Books, like landscapes, leave their marks in us. Certain books, though, like certain landscapes, stay with us even when we left them, changing not just our weathers but our climates." - Robert Macfarlane
Few words can express how ardently I love these words! They are the magnificent words of the brilliant Robert Macfarlane!
Instead of spluttering my own lackluster praises, I'll let his words speak for themselves, and my oh my do they sing!
"Before you become a writer you must first become a rea
This is a difficult book to clearly categorise. It is a book about the natural world, about language to describe that natural world, but is also about the writers and in some cases friends, that he has learnt so much from in his journeys around the UK, up mountains and on long walks.

As he writes about those authors, Nan Shepherd, Roger Deakin, Richard Mabey and Richard Skelton, seminal writers that have provided so much influence, through their work and books, it comes across that this is as muc
This new classic of nature writing zeroes in on the language we use to talk about our environment, both individual words – which Macfarlane celebrates in nine mini-glossaries alternating with the prose chapters – and the narratives we build around places, via discussions of the work of nature writers he admires, including John Muir, Barry Lopez, Nan Shepherd, J.A. Baker, and Roger Deakin (a personal friend for whom he served as literary executor).

The book is divided into rough geological categor
Victoria (Eve's Alexandria)
I took incredible pleasure in this book and it’s exploration of the relationship between words, place and the natural world. Macfarlane introduced me to many writers that I didn’t know, and reminded me of many works of nature writing that I have loved. It’s my first book by him but I shall be devouring his back catalogue.
This book consists of chapters that focus on authors of nature writing. Both the authors’ books and their lives are reviewed. Interspersed between these chapters are glossary list of terms used to describe nature, land, water and weather. These words are Gaelic, Scottish, Welsh, Irish, Breton, English and Old English. The meaning and origin of each word is given. The words in the glossary lists are only loosely related to the subject of the previous chapter.

I have purchased both the beautiful h
Lyn Elliott
Dec 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
I can't go beyond Macfarlane's own words to say what his most recent book is about: 'the power of language - strong style, single words - to shape our sense of place. It is a field guide to literature I love, and it is a word-hoard of the astonishing lexis for landscape that exists in the compression of islands, rivers, strands, fells, lochs, cities, tons, carries, hedgerows, fields and edge lands uneasily known as the British Isles'.
Each chapter revolves around one world and one or two writers
Mary Ronan Drew
May 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Acorn, adder, ash, beech, bluebell, buttercup, catkin, conker, cowslip, cygnet, dandelion, fern, hazel, heather, heron, ivy, kingfisher, lark, mistletoe, nectar, newt, otter, pasture, and willow. The Oxford Junior Dictionary in 2008 dropped these words as no longer relevant to a modern-day childhood. Macfarlane would make us all familiar with those words and many more that describe the natural world. His book is a kind of annotated glossary and is beautifully written.
Paul Gallear
Mar 05, 2015 rated it liked it
I wanted to like this book a lot more than I did. I have thoroughly enjoyed Robert MacFarlane's other works and this book combines two subject - language and nature - which I love reading about.

But it struck me as a series of book reviews, each followed by a list of words. The chapters were well written, passionate and beautiful, as you would expect from MacFarlane. The lists however were tedious to read through, with no notes on pronunciation to help with the Gaelic or Welsh words and no clue a
11th book for 2020.

Robert Macfarlane is my favorite writer of the natural world. His use of language is both wonderfully precise and poetic, and so it was a particular pleasure to read Landmarks, both a celebration of the language of the natural world, and a call to arms to stop the loss of so many beautiful words to describe it.

He starts with a lament for the loss of childhoods exposed to the rough-and-tumble of nature; of their retreat indoors towards screens and away from trees, and ponds, an
This is such a beautiful concept for a book, a love letter to land and language and the intricacies of the relationships between the two - and for the most part, is delivered just as beautifully. MacFarlane is an excellent writer, and the first few chapters in particular sing with joy and passion for the words and places and writings he brings together. I adored the glossaries, and especially (in the audiobook version) the inclusion of a reading of the Peat Glossary discussed in the first chapte ...more
Sam Worby
Apr 30, 2015 rated it liked it
This is not the book about language and landscape I was hoping for.

I wanted something that evoked Holdstock. I got a series of university lectures, a reading list and a disappointing but pretty word hoard.

This book contains none of the layers, history, groundedness or dense sense of place I anticipated. It is oddly secondhand and distant.

In the sections where MacFarlane writes about other nature writers there feels like little new. In several chapters he revisits authors he has previously writt
Sep 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
For UK-based people who are interested in nature and wildlife, I think this is an important book. If English is not your native tongue or if you are not interested in the natural world, it is likely that you will not find this book so engaging or significant.

The main theme of the book is probably best described in this quote: "It is not, on the whole, that natural phenomena and entities themselves are disappearing; rather that there are fewer people able to name them, and that once they go unnam
This is a series of essays that combine nature, geography, weather, and the power of specificity with words. To that end, Macfarlane includes lists of words, most from various UK dialects, for land, weather and natural process. Most of the words are in danger of disappearing as man's connection with nature diminishes. As we continue to remove ourselves from nature, we begin to see/think in broad, bland strokes and lose both our perception of and the ability to talk about the natural world's intr ...more
Ancestral Gaidheal
Why did I read it? When first published, several people recommended this book to me, and it was recommended more than once by some. I imagine those recommendations came because of my like of the natural world, and of language. I have no idea why, but I put it on my 'wish list' and then my 'to be read pile' but never actually started it; these decisions I now regret.

What's it about? With the Oxford Children's Dictionary removing words relating to nature, e.g. acorn, in favour of technological ter
Nick Swarbrick
May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nature, lit-crit, re-read
An utter stunner of a book: language and landscape intertwine, are at variance, illuminate each other...

Just for the record, I've just finished my third read now, following my love for Lost Words, and struck by the humour and word-play as much as anything. It is a rare writer who can tell his audience that the kestrel is also known as a "wind-f*cker" and still invite awe for how language can be specific about different types of hill or waterway.
Mar 27, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Bettie
From BBC Radio 4 - Book of the Week:
Robert Macfarlane visits some inspiring places, to meet the people and
'collect' the words that evoke the area. Abridged for radio by Penny
Fern Adams
Mar 17, 2021 rated it liked it
Landmarks is a book exploring the relation between words and landscape and how our change of words and reduced nature vocabulary has impacted our own relationship with the land.

There were parts of this book I absolutely loved. McFarlane explores words from different dialects that have given names to very specific moments or actions in nature. He spends time on the Isle of Lewis with a man who has collected a dictionary of Gaelic words and phrases very specific to that area. This was very intere
Mar 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not a perfect book (one might argue that the individual chapters are a bit uneven), but exactly what I needed to read right now. Macfarlane combines three of my favourite things - landscape, language, and literature - and he does so in a creative, eloquent, and incredibly personal way.
Mar 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Landmarks by Robert Macfarlane is a special book because it so beautifully and compellingly challenges us to confront our withered relations with nature, our inability to name the landforms, trees, birds, geology, and weather in which we are embedded, our loss of wonder.

Using spectacular famous and not so famous nature writers as examples, in combination with his own experiences and perceptions, Macfarlane probes one of Max Weber's key concepts (borrowed from Friedrich Schiller but greatly elabo
Richard Thomas
May 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: landscape
I found this to be an excellent book which describes writers who influenced the author in his own work and who left abiding work on landscape and nature, mainly in Britain but in a wider context too. I suppose there are two outstanding chapters for me which caused me to buy the book. One is on the book written by J A Baker - the Peregrine which is his quite uncanny ability to get into the life of the Peregrine Falcon in the Essex country between Chelmsford and the Dengie Hundred. The other is A ...more
Jun 18, 2015 rated it it was ok
I was looking forward to reading this book, which promised to look at language and landscape, about "the power of language to shape our sense of place". However it failed to evoke any feeling of landscape, and was a series of essays, largely about other writers on the natural world. These were followed by perfunctory and random lists of words from scattered parts of Britain, completely outwith any context or insight. These odd lists contain numerous Gaelic words too, not introduced as a complete ...more
Dec 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
No words can describe my feelings about this book. I had this on the kindle for ages and finally got to it. Had to dash out to buy a hard copy and I am in love with it. I am so glad to have a word now for my love of northern climes: I am simply northminded.
Jenny Glover
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Magnificent, vision-changing. Review to come!
Aug 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Not 100% what I expected. Ostensibly based around a search for unique and/or forgotten natural vocabulary and vernacular, it instead becomes an insight into various other authors (Nan Shepherd, John Baker, Peter Davidson, to name a few) to whom these words are vital not only for expression but in gaining a full understanding of their landscapes. As Henry Ponter names them 'euphonious vocabulary of the natural world - words which do not simply label an object or action but in some mysterious way ...more
Sophy H
Dec 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: outdoor-nature
3.5 stars

I felt this was more of a literature review than anything entirely original.

Whilst Macfarlane's writing is always poetic and beautifully descriptive, this was a series of references to, and quotation of his favourite nature writers, including Roger Deakin, Nan Shepherd, Barry Lopez and J A Baker. And that is fine if you're unfamiliar with their books as it reveals something new, and would perhaps direct you to their fine writing. When you've read the books in question however, quotatio
Heather Bond
Feb 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
"I sought to gather grit as well as pearls: landscape offers us experiences of great grace and beauty, but also of despair, hard labour and death."

This is one of the first books I've read where I want to give it more than five stars. I picked it up unenthusiastically as I knew it dealt heavily with language and contained many glossaries which did not excite me, as I'm known to not enjoy learning languages and these topics. However, I was blown away by Macfarlane's writing and his project that in
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Robert Macfarlane is a British nature writer and literary critic.

Educated at Nottingham High School, Pembroke College, Cambridge and Magdalen College, Oxford, he is currently a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and teaches in the Faculty of English at Cambridge.

Robert Macfarlane is the author of prize-winning and bestselling books about landscape, nature, people and place, including Mountain

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