Or: Three Things You Need to Know about Richard Mabey’s Nature Cure
I had grand plans of writing a New York Times-style book review for Richard Mabey’s memoir Nature Cure. I found myself bored out of my wits writing it, so here’s what I want you to know about this gem of a book in three short points:
(A) Mabey’s need for a “Nature Cure” was due to a major depressive episode. He had been rooted too long, lost his sense of self. He takes us along with him for the first year of recovery and finds himself questioning whether his writings are a meaningful contribution to society. The quest to find meaningful work may never end but we can enjoy the jaunt along the way.
(B) He has a lyrical way of spinning his cautionary tale to those of us who know we suffer – and cause those around us to suffer – when we don’t spend enough time tramping around the outdoors. He uses many Britishisms that force my North American brain to slow down and be present with his book rather than speed read through a chapter. I particularly enjoyed his theory on why we nature lovers obsess over plant (or bird or insect or…) names and the gesture of respect it is to give someone or something a name.
(C) Mabey forms thoughtful open-ended questions for readers to form their own opinions on what wilderness means and how it’s defined, for instance. The pace of the book allows us to indulge in contemplation and conversation. I often stopped reading to share quotes and thoughts with my husband (who put up with my delighted “listen to this!” every 30 pages).
If you’re looking for a different read in the nature writing genre, pick up Nature Cure and enjoy the journey with a big cup of tea.
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