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January 1, 2016

‘Landmarks’ is the title of a book given to me for Christmas by a friend who has been present at many of the landmarks or turning points of my life.

The purpose of the book by Robert Macfarlane is to explore the connections between language and landscape and to find new ways of seeing the world through the ‘naming’ of features, flora and fauna etc.

Each section of the book contains a glossary relating to the subject matter of the chapter e.g. flatlands, uplands and waterlands. The final glossary is left blank for the reader to add future place-names or favourite terms.

Macfarlane makes the point that: ‘Before you become a writer you must first become a reader. Every hour spent reading is an hour spent learning to write; this continues throughout a writer’s life.’ (Hamish Hamilton: 2015, p11)

So, if you are a writer, you could try reading outside of your comfort zone to extend your vocabulary.

If you are a reader you could continue to develop your vocabulary by collecting lists of rare or unusual words.

If you are both a reader and a writer you could do both of the above and then integrate some of your new words into a piece of writing.

Or you could simply open a dictionary at random and select up to twenty words to generate a story or poem.

If you are interested in language, literature and landscape I can recommend ‘Landmarks’ which was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction 2015.


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