Friday Reads: Kathleen Jamie

The last book I read was Findings by Kathleen Jaime. The book I’m currently reading is Sightlines by Kathleen Jamie. I have just ordered two collections of poetry by Kathleen Jamie. And when I’ve read those I’ll probably read a travel book by Kathleen Jamie.

Every now and then you stumble on an author whose work is a revelation to you. And all you can do is thank that mysterious web of chance, recommendation, review, browsing, publicity (it’s all blind luck really) that brought you to them. How did I come across Kathleen Jamie? I’m pretty certain @mjohnharrison mentioned her to me in passing once and then I happened to be listening to Woman’s Hour one bank holiday (and what a bloody marvelous bit of radio that programme is) and there she was talking about one day visiting a pathology lab and another lifting a moth from a puddle. And it all came together. And I ordered her two books of essays. And I started reading them, and couldn’t stop. And I think I may have fallen a little bit in love. In love, at least, with Kathleen Jamie’s writing, with her warm attentiveness to the world, with her willingness to see truth and connection behind the mundane and the mythologised.

Whether she’s writing about watching gannets, or visiting a hall full of whale skeletons, or making the terrible decision to put her mother into a care home, or the rooftops of Edinburgh, or light, or the moon, or icebergs, or, well anything really, Kathleen Jamie brings a gift for poetic concision and original seeing to her writing. These are essays that observe the world but which are really about us, about how we relate to what’s around us, how we are, what we are. Does that sound just a touch po-faced? Couldn’t be further from the truth. Jamie is the warmest, the most amused, the most human of writers. Her essays are a joy. They have brightened every day in which I’ve read one, or a part of one. And that’s part of the secret. If you do take a look at them, eke them out. These essays are not to be devoured – they invite you to read them slowly. And to read them again. And that’s something, surrounded by the delicious demands of reading so much for work, that I really valued. Find a Friday and give over part of it to reading a few pages of a Kathleen Jamie essay. I would be REALLY surprised if you regretted it. But then I am biased. I am a little bit in love.