Recommended reading

On the bench outside the studio

"The essayist's job," writes Rebecca Solnit "is to gather up the shards or map them where they are, to find the pattern out there or make one with words about the disconnections and mysteries. This reading of the word is a form of travel, questing and searching and gathering. Essays are restless literature, trying to find out how things fit together, how we can think about two things at once, how the personal and the public can inform each other, how two overtly dissimilar things share a secret kinship, how intuitive and scholarly knowledge can cook down together, how discovery can be a deep pleasure."

I couldn't agree more. We're living in a Golden Age of essays due to the number of online magazines and journals that publish them -- particularly personal essays, many of them incredibly moving. It's a shame that the word "essay" connotes something dry and scholarly to many readers. The essays I love are anything but, and prejudice against the form (like the old prejudice against fantasy fiction) causes too many people to miss out on a whole field that is incredibly vital and exciting right now.

Best American Essays

A friend of mine only recently stumbled upon the particular pleasure of essays, and in order to feed his growing addiction he wrote to ask for a list of my favorite collections published in last few years. 

"The best essays?" I answered. "That's easy. Start with Best American Essays, edited by Robert Atwan, along with a different guest editor every year. I read it religiously and always discover new writers there."

"I'll check them out," my friend replied. "But what I really want are your favourite writers. Over the last, oh, two-three years, which collections did you truly love? I'm making a reading list."

A stack of good reading

I duly compiled a list for my friend -- and, with his blessing, I'm also sharing it here: an extremely subjective handful of recent favorites. (By "recent," following my friend's guidelines, I stuck to books published from 2017 to the present.)

My bias runs to personal essays (of a memoirist nature) and those on the subjects of writing, nature, or living with illness...but there's not a lot that I won't at least try. Restricting my picks to a reasonable number was hard, so I made this my measure: Did I like the book enough to re-read it? Or, in the case of more recent publications, am I likely to re-read it? That whittled the list down to eight.

Tilly disapproves

In alphabetical order, so that I don't have to rank them:

1. How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee (Martiner Books, 2018)

In this stunning collection, Chee writes about his childhood in coastal Maine, his years as a gay activist in San Francisco, and his long, fraught process of becoming a novelist in New York City. Chee's childhood included abuse, so I ought to give a trigger warning here. He writes about the subject in manner that isn't dark and heavy but the opposite: compassionate and luminous. These are wonderful essays, beautifully rendered: honest, funny, searing, inspiring.  (Go here for my post on the book.)

2. Out of the Woods: Seeing Nature in the Everyday by Julia Corbett (University of Nevada Press, 2018)

The title says it all really. These are wide-ranging essays on nature in urban and other non-wilderness settings: informative, eloquent, and fascinating. I picked this one up when I saw it had won the 2018 Reading the West Award, thoroughly enjoyed it, and learned a thing or two about the natural world as well.

3. Hard to Love by Briallen Hopper (Bloomsbury, 2019)

I adore this book, full of smart, beautifully written, warm-hearted essays about family, community, and relationships in their many forms: relationships with siblings, housemates, friends, lovers, books. (The linked essays about the "friendship circle" around a fellow writer dealing with cancer are particularly wonderful.) Please read my post about it, and then please seek out a copy. I've re-read this one twice already, only to love it more each time.

Three excellent collections

4. Pain Woman Takes Your Keys & Other Essays from a Nervous System by Sonya Huber (The University of Nebraska Press, 2017)

Here's another collection I still can't get off my mind -- a beautifully rendered inquiry into living with illness and disability. I know that sounds grim, but it's not -- and the quality of Huber's writing is not to be missed. (I wrote about it here: Spinning straw into gold, pain into art.)

4. Surfacing by Kathleen Jamie (Sort of Books, 2019)

Although I've admired the previous books by this Scottish poet and naturalist, nothing prepared for the power and beauty of Surfacing. With settings ranging from the Orkney islands to Alaska and China, these essays emerge from the liminal place where nature and culture meet, written in prose that invites comparison to Nan Shepard and Barry Lopez, which is no small praise. (I wrote about Surfacing here.)

5. The Cost of Living by Deborah Levy (Penguin, 2019)

I read an excerpt from Levy's slim, powerful collection, and immediately had to track down a copy -- which I then devoured in one long sitting. It was worth the lost sleep! Although written in the form of essays, each essay builds on the ones before it to create an incisive memoir covering the end of Levy's marriage, the death of her mother, and the raising of her teenage daughter, entwined with life as a working writer in London. So many of the other memoir-style essays I've enjoyed in the last few years have been by the younger generation of authors (Briallen Hooper, Emilie Pine, Jia Tolentino, etc.), whereas Levy is writing about the concerns of middle-age, with the insights that come only from years of hard experience. Her wit is sharp, her language exquisitely precise, and the book is unforgettable.


6. Notes to Self by Emilie Pine (Penguin, 2019)

This debut collection from a young Irish writer is incredibly assured and beautifully penned. Pine writes personal essays grounded in her own life, but wrests universal insights from her material -- whether she's discussing her deeply eccentric parents (one of whom was a celebrated Irish journalist), the female body (her essay on menstruation is a tour-de-force), the fertility industry, or emotional burnout among Irish academics. I loved this book, which deserved its place on so many Best of the Year lists last December. 

7. The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations by Toni Morrison (Pisces Books, 2019)

It's a bit of a grab-bag of material, this one -- but since I'd happily read Morrison's grocery lists, it is well worth seeking out nonetheless. The best of the work gathered here is smart, fierce, provocative, and inspiring, and even the minor pieces are good. What a giant of literature we have lost.

8. Erosions: Essays of Undoing by Terry Tempest Williams (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2019)

Williams is another writer whose work I can't get enough of, and her latest collection is no exception. Based in the Utah desert, she argues passionately for the land and its people, in prose that is achingly personal as well as political. Her work is endlessly inspiring to me, and this gorgeous new collection is one I'll return to many times. (But if you are new to Williams, don't start here; start with Refuge and work your way up.)

Erosion by Terry Tempest Williams


And here are a few other good reads:

Jia Tolentino's Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion (HarperCollins, 2019) and Heather Havrilesky's What if This Were Enough? (Doubleday, 2018) are debut collections from two young American journalist, mixing personal essays with cultural pieces that are smart and insightful. (I wrote about the latter book here.) Late Migrations: A History of Love & Loss by Margaret Renkl (Milkweed Editions, 2019) is a lyrical volume of very short, bittersweet pieces on nature and family in the American south. Illustrated by the author's brother, it's a beautiful book and not quite like anything else. Forms of Enchantment: Writing on Art & Artists by British mythographer and scholar Marina Warner (Thames & Hudson, 2018) contains erudite essays on fine artists whose work has a magical bent -- and not necessarily artists you would expect, mixing the likes of Paula Rego and Kiki Smith with Louise Bourgeois, Tacita Dean, and Jumana Emil Abboud.

For feminist essays that really make you think, I loved The Mother of All Questions and Call Them by Their True Names by American cultural philosopher Rebecca Solnit (Granta, 2017 and 2018), and Bitch Doctrine: Essays for Dissenting Adults (Bloomsbury, 2018) by the fearless young British writer Laurie Penny.

Forms of Enchantment by Marina Warner

Late Migrations

I am genuinely addicted to the Best American Essays series -- including the excellent backlist of older volumes. Each edition has a slightly different emphasis depending on the guest editor of the year. The 2009 edition, for example, was edited by Mary Oliver, and thus contains a larger-than-usual  number of nature essays; the most recent was edited by Rebecca Solnit, and is weighted toward political and cultural pieces.


I also highly recommend Slightly Foxed, a quarterly magazine full of charming, informative essays about books and authors of an older vintage: favorite books, forgotten books, notorious books, and much more. The magazine is published here in England, but well worth the extra postage price if you subscribe from other parts of the world. It's simply delightful. (And very English.)

Online, I recommend Longreads, which links to essays and interesting works of journalism from a wide variety of sources, as well as commissioning original material themselves. For fantasy essays, I love The City of Lost Books, the wonderful blog produced by Rob Maslen, head of the Fantasy Literature masters programme at the University of Glasgow. And finally, for all who love fairy tales: if you aren't already following Sabrina Orah Mark's extraordinary essays on fairy tales and motherhood in Paris Review, head over to her "Happily" column and read them immediately.

Slightly Foxed

Are you an essay lover yourself? If so, what else would recommend (published between 2017 and the present)? Many of the authors I've listed above are female, white, and writing in English, so recommendations of recent essay collections by male and nonwhite authors would be especially welcome. 

Still no dogs.

The quote by Rebecca Solnit is from The Best American Essays, 2019, edited by Solnit and Robert Atwan (Mariner Books/Houghton Mifflin, 2019). All rights reserved by the author.

Recommended reading

Bedtime Story by Chris Dunn

Our rural Internet service has gone from bad to worse, and I'm going to have to start sending Myth & Moor posts by friendly mice at this rate. I'm working on getting this fixed, and in the meantime I have some recommended reading for you:

* Terry Tempest William's exquisite essay on land, ceremony, and the gods among us.

Morsel's Bath by Lauren Mills* Robert Macfarlane on the new animism.

* Emma Marris on myth and soil.

* Sharon Blackie on a hidden pilgrim trail
in the Scottish Highlands.

* Rachel Cusk on Celia Paul, Cecily Brown, and being a woman artist.

* Melissa Ashley with a short piece on French salon fairy tales. Ignore the claim that these writers "invented" fairy tales or the classic fairy tale heroine archetypes  -- that's simply incorrect. The archetypes are as old as the oral storytelling tradition, and there were other important literary fairy tale writers at least a century earlier. But on why the French stories were so radical for their time, the author is on stronger ground. (If you'd like to know more, I have an essay on the subject here.)

The Letter by Omar Rayyan title=

Autopirum by Omar Rayyan

Brian Floca (from the Poppy stories by Avi)

Art above: Bedtime Story by Chris Dunn, Morsel's Bath by Lauren Mills, The Letter and Autopirum by Omar Rayyan, and an illustration from Avi's Poppy stories by Brian Floca.

Writers and islands


Having lost my heart to the Hebridean islands off Scotland's west coast, I'm fascinated by the archipelago's natural and cultural history. If you are too, I recommend David Brown's essay "Orwell's Last Neighborhood": a discussion of George Orwell's time on the remote island of Jura, where he wrote his most famous book. "The conventional wisdom," says Brown, "is that Orwell’s years on Jura killed him, nearly robbing the world of 1984. None of his biographers or friends seemed to consider that Jura, despite or because of its harshness, might have extended his life and given him the psychic space to imagine a place utterly unlike it."

I also recommend "Island Mentality" by Madeleine Bunting, a short piece on Orwell and other writers drawn to the Hebrides -- along with her book-length survey of the islands: Love of Country: A Hebridean Journey.

And finally, I recommend three good novels set in the Hebrides: Anna Mazzola's darkly folkloric The Story Keeper, Sarah Moss' darkly comic Night Waking, and Andrew Miller's gripping early-19th-century saga Now We Shall Be Entirely Free.

What are some of your favorite novels set on islands, real or imaginary? Mine include Margot Lanagan's The Brides of Rollrock Island (a selkie novel), Elizabeth Knox's Billie's Kiss, Frances Hardinge's The Lie Tree, and the Earthsea books of Ursula K. Le Guin.

Isle of Skyle

Hebridean fiction

Recommended reading (and listening)

Tilly in the studio

The hound and I are back in the studio, with apologies for being away so long -- due to a combination of health issues (getting better now) and an over-full schedule that I'm just barely keeping up with.

Drawing by Arthur Rackham

Here are some articles, videos, and podcasts I'd like to recommend, a seasonal round-up of my magpie gleanings from hither and yon:

* Sharon Blackie follows Myrddin, Mis, and other wild folk into the woods (The Art of Enchantment)

* Rob Maslen goes deep into William Morris' Wood Beyond the World (City of Lost Books)

* Helen Macdonald, author of H is for Hawk, pens a beautiful essay on the forbidden wonder of birds' nests and eggs (The Guardian)

* Jeremy Miller finds a new understanding of wilderness in an Irish bog (Orion)

Peter Pan in Kensington Garden by Arthur Rackham

* Naomi Shihab Nye discusses poetry and kindness (BrainPickings)

* David Grossman discusses the Holocaust, empathy, and the importance of literature (The Guardian)

* George Saunders discusses the art storytelling (Aeon video)

* Mary Hofffman discusses fairy tales with Katherine Langrish (Seven Miles of Steel Thistles)

* Kate Forsyth returns to Beauty & the Beast by way Anne Frank (Kate's blog)

* Meg Roscoff tells us why we still need fairy tales (The Guardian)

Alice in Wonderland by Arthur Rackham

* Robert Minto reviews No Time to Spare by Ursula K. Le Guin (New Republic)

* Cally Calloman reviews Folk Song in England by Steve Roud (Caught by the River)

* Jon Wilks interviews Steve Roud, asking: "What is folk music, exactly?" (Grizzly Folk)

* Yaoyao Ma Van As captures the over-looked joys of living alone (My Modern Met)

* John Bedell looks at Leonora Carrington's incredible sculptures (Bensozia)

* Skye Sherman looks at a new exhibition of Käthe Kollwitz’s powerful art (The Guardian)

May Colven by Arthur Rackham

And one more:

My erudite friend and up-the-road neighbor Earl Fontainelle has launched a fascinating podcast series on The Secret History of Western Esotericism, exploring "cutting-edge academic research in the study of Platonism, Gnosticism, Hermeticism, the Kabbalah, alchemy, occultism, magic, and related currents of thought."

The first four episodes of the series are online now, and I highly recommend it. 

The Fairies' Tiff with the Birds by Arthur Rackham

The art today is by the great English book illustrator Arthur Rackham, born on this day in south London in 1867. A new exhibition of his work has just opened at the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy.

Undine by Arthur Rackham

Recommended Reading

The Rose Tree Regiment by Lisbeth Zwerger

It's turning into one of Those Days (and probably one of Those Weeks) when a million different things to do are standing between me and studio time. Since I'm unable to sit and post properly right now, may I recommend a few good reads on other sites for your morning dose of inspiration?

The art above is by the wonderful Austrian illustrator Lisbeth Zwerger.  I'll be back in the studio just as soon as I can be.

Recommended Reading

Jeanie Tomanek

Howard and I truly enjoyed last week's Chagford Show, and also the final Widdershins event at Green Hill Arts on Saturday night. But with all this gadding about, I've managed to pick up some kind of stomach bug. I'm hoping it passes quickly and I won't be out of the studio for long.

Jeanie Tomanek

A few reading recommendations for you in the meantime:

W. W. Tarn, The Treasure of the Isle of Mist by Rob Maslen (The City of Lost Books)

Kazuo Ishiguro, The Buried Giant by Rob Maslen (The City of Lost Books)

Sister Act: female friendship in fiction by Alex Clark (The Guardian)

Simplicity or Style: what makes a sentence a masterpiece? by Jenny Davidson (Aeon)

The Race to Save a Dying Language by Ross Perlin (The Guardian)

Encyclopedia Blue, a history of the color by Bernd Brunner (The Smart Set)

Watch Out, Little Red, on wolves in Germany by Bernd Brunner (The Smart Set)

Bird Song Found to Somehow Protect Babies from High Temperatures (The New York Times)

A World Away, So Near by Julian Hoffman (People Need Nature)

Reclaiming Ritual by Lucy Purdy (Positive News)

Recommended listening: Tolkien: The Lost Recordings on BBC Radio 4 (time-limited)

Recommended viewing: Lunette by animator Phoebe Warries on Vimeo (with thanks to Sarah C. Hines & Jennifer Ambrose)

Bedtime Story by Jeanie Tomanek

The paintings today are by Jeanie Tomanek, whose work graced the poster for the "Power of Story" talk. Go here to see more of her luminous art.

The Return by Jeanie TomanekThe poem in the picture captions is from Evening Train by Denise Levertov (New Directions, 1992); all rights reserved by the author's estate.

Myth & Moor update

Nature studies by Beatrix Potter

Summer outside the studio windows

I'm off-line for the rest of the week, taking some "Studio Retreat" time in order to focus entirely on a work-in-progress. Tilly and I will be back next week.

Here's a round-up of recent reading recommendations to leave you with until then:

Sarah Lyall on Robert Macfarlane's "Landmarks" (The New York Times)

Claire Armitstead on Devon poet Alice Oswald (The Guardian)

Paul Kingsnorth on writing about the animate landscape (The Guardian)

Daniel A. Gross on silence (Nautilus), Rubin Naiman on sleep (Aeon), and Sara Lewis on fireflies (Aeon)

The hound lounging in the studio garden

Akilesh Ayyar on different ways of writing a novel (The Millions)

Ramona Ausubel on how to be a writer (Lit Hub)

Amanda Craig on the summer's best children's books (The New Statesman)

Anne Gracie interviews Eva Ibbotson (The Word Wenches)

Rob Maslen on "Children's Fantasy Literature: An Introduction" (The City of Lost Books)


Cat sketch by Beatrix Potter

Charles Vess on illustrating "The Books of Earthsea" by Ursula Le Guin  (

Katherine Langrish on dwarfs, pixies, and the "Little Dark People" (Seven Miles of Steel Thistles)

Rosemary Hill on Beatrix Potter (London Review of Books)

Glynis Ridley on pioneer botanist Jeanne Baret (The Dangerous Women Project)

Hedgehog sketches by Beatrix Potter

Lily Gurton-Wachter on the literature of motherhood (Los Angeles Review of Books)

Lauren Elkin on female flâneurs  (The Guardian)

Jane Shilling on A.S. Byatt's Peacock & Vine, about William Morris & Mariano Fortuny (The New Statesman)

Kirsty Stonell Walker on Frida Kahlo & Elizabeth Siddal (The Kissed Mouth)

And here's a post of mine on why Internet breaks are important, as I prepare to spend time off-line.


Some recommended viewing:

Kevin Horan's glorious portraits of goats & sheep (The Washington Post)

Charles Fréger's portraits of the afterlife at Japanese folklore festivals (CoDesign)

Some recommended listening:

Syria's Secret Library (BBC Radio 4)

Robert Macfarlane on landscape & language (Radio New Zealand)

Reading ''When Women Rose Rooted'' by Sharon Blackie

Recommended Reading

Reading in the studio garden

A round-up of recent reading, magpie gleanings from hither and yon....

"Beatrix Potter, Enyd Byton, and the 'pictureskew' " by China Miéville (The Guardian)

"John Masefield and British Fantasy of the 1920s" by Rob Maslen (The City of Lost Books)

"Irish Fantasy Writers and the Easter Uprising" by Rob Maslen (The City of Lost Books)

"Synchrony in Howl's Moving Castle" by Rob Maslen (The City of Lost Books)

"Maps of Fantasy Worlds" by Annalee Newitz (Io9)

"Why Do Adults Read YA Fiction?" by Austen Hackney (AH blog)

"Malefice" by Leslie Wilson (Seven Miles of Steel Thistles)

"Tiny Fairies" by Katherine Langrish (Seven Miles of Steel Thistles)

"Victorian Fairies and the Early Work of J.R.R. Tolkien" by Dimitra Fimi (Working With English)

"Fairies, Demons, and Ghosts in Shakespeare" by Dimtra Fimi (Oxford University Press blog)

"Wonders of the Northland: Hamlet and Macbeth" by Rob Maslen (The City of Lost Books)

"Estella Canziani: Piper of Dreams" by Christina Ruth Johnson (Enchanted Conversations)

"The Frog-King, or Iron Henry" by Mari Ness (

"A Field Guide to Mythic Monsters," reviewed by Maria Popova (Brain Pickings)

"Irish Bards Could Kill Rats with Poetry" by John Kelly (Slate)

"Word Obsessive" by Susan Price (Nennius)

"A’ghailleann: On Language-Learning" by Iona Sharma (The Toast)

June idyll

"What the Green Man can teach us" by Paul Kingsnorth (The New Statesman)

"The Nature of Britain" by Elizabeth Yale (Aeon)

"The Palm Trees and the Poetry of W.S. Merwin" by Casey N. Cep (The New Yorker)

"The Lost Gardens of Emily Dickinson" by Ferris Jabr (The New York Times)

"The Politics of Place: Terry Tempest Williams" (Scott London Interviews)

"Who Owns the Earth?" by Antonia Malchik (Aeon)

"The Songs of the Wolves" by Holly Root-Gutteridge (Aeon)

"A New Origin Story for Dogs" by Ed Yong (The Atlantic)

"The Metamorphosis: What's It Like to Be an Animal?" by Joshua Rothman (The New Yorker)

"Rewilding Human Nature" by Lucy Purdy (Positive News)

"Schooled in Nature" by Jay Griffiths (Aeon)

"Opening Our Eyes to Beauty" by Fiona Reynolds (The Guardian)

"Heartwood," story and art by Jackie Morris (The Tree Charter)

Sunbathing hound

"An Open Letter to the Hat-Wearing Dog from Go Dog, Go" by Raquel D'Apice (Ugly Volvo)

"On the Invisibility of Middle-Aged Women" by Dorthe Nors (Literary Hub)

"Women and Water" by Victoria Leslie (The Dangerous Women Project)

Marina Warner on Angela Carter (Discovering Literature: 20th Century)

"Georgia O'Keefe and Juan Hamilton" by Charlotte Cowles (Harpers Bazaar)

"Borges and $" by Elizabeth Hyde Stevens (Longreads)

"Ray Bradbury: Between Dystopia and Hope" by Patrick West (Spiked Review)

"The Thing With Fathers: The New Poetry of Fatherhood" by Stephen Burt (Boston Review)

"Louise Erdrich: By the Book" (The New York Times)

"Jenny Diski's In Gratitude" by Heidi Julavits (The New York Times)

"Fictional Homes in New York City" by Michelle Colman (CityRealty)

On Laurie Anderson's new film Heart of a Dog by Ryan Gilbey (The New Statesman)

Laurie Anderson on childhood, storytelling and hiding by Paul Holdengraber (Literary Hub)

Maira Kalman on mistakes, optimism, dogs and art by Jessa Gross (Longreads)

First Light A Celebration of Alan Garner

Katherine Langrish on Alan Garner and First Light (Seven Miles of Steel Thistles)

A conversation with Philip Pullman by Katy Waldman (Slade)

A conversation with Max Porter by Carmen Maria Machado (Electric Literature)

Rebecca Solnit on social change and hope (

Rima Staines calls for a roots revolution (The Hermitage)

Sarah Smarsh on why art is more necessary than ever (On Being)

Samira Thomas in praise of patience (Aeon)

Lin-Manual Miranda's commencement speech at U Penn (Heatstreet)

Stories for creating a more hopeful world by Sita Brahmachari (Guardian Children's Books)

And now a bit of shade

 And some recommended viewing...

"Six Forgotten Female Pioneers of Photography" by Sara Crompton (The Guardian)

"Everday Life in 19th Century Cornwall," photographs (The Guardian)

"Indian's Disappearing Musicians," a photo essay by Souvid Datta (The Guardian)

"The Shinto Onbashira matsuri in Japan," video (Aeon)

Recommended Reading

Comfort in Quilting by David Wyatt

From Irish Fairy Tales  illustrated by Arthur Rackham (1920)

The bug that I'm down with is still going strong, so I can't yet predict when I'll be back in the studio. In the meantime, here's some recommended reading for you...

"A Conversation with Phillip Pullman" (Slate Book Review).

"An Interview with Jenny Diski" by Robert Hanks (The Guardian).

"Witches Brew: Patti Smith's M Train" by Evelyn McDonnell (Los Angeles Review of Books).

"The Books" by Alexander Chee (The Morning News).

"Writers, we need to stop saying this" by J.H. Moncrieff  (blog post).

"Paint by Gender: The Shoes Under the Art World" by Pat Lipsky (The Awl).

"Why are Old Women Often the Face of Evil in Fairy Tales and Folklore" by Elizabeth Blair (NPR Books).

"Richard Dadd: the art of a 'criminal lunatic' murderer" (and fairy painter), by Paul Kerley (BBC Magazine).

"The Greatness of William Blake" by Richard Holmes (The New York Review of Books).

"Salthouse Marshes" by Robert Macfarlane and Adam Scovell (Caught by the River).

"HS2: The Human Cost" by Patrick Barkham (The Guardian).

"Finding Time" by Rebecca Solnit (Orion).

"Rebecca Solnit on Modern Noncommunication" by Maria Popova (Brain Pickings).

"In the Eyes of a Bear" by Julian Hoffman (Zoomorphic -- a fine new magazine dedicated to wildlife and the more-than-human world).

"In Search of the Mountain Ghost" by Katey Duffey (Zoomorphic).

"The Last of the Granny Witches" by Anna Wess (Appalachian Ink).

"The Exemplary Narcissism of Snoopy" by Sarah Boxer (The Atlantic).

"The Tea Party in the Woods: a Modernist Fairy Fale by Akiko Miyakoshi" by Maria Popova (Brain Pickings).

"A Mythological Dreamworld: Inside Sophie Ryder's Spellbinding Home" (The Telegraph, via Tanith Hicks) -- an inspiring glimpse into the magical home of one of my very favorite artists.

"The First Person on Mars" by Sarah Smarsh (Vela Magazine). I love Smarsh's autobiographical essays, drawn from her working class background...and this one is particularly good.

"The one with the Storyteller" by Joel Defner (Serial Box). Although ostensively an essay answering the simple question "What is your favorite Buffy the Vampire Slayer episosode?," it's actually much more: a meditation on the importance of stories themselves. Whether you're a Buffy fan or not, please don't miss it.

"Saved by the Invisibles" by Jonathan Carroll (Medium). Brief and lovely.

Tilly sillinessArt above: "Comfort in Quilting," a painting in the Local Characters series by our friend & neighbor David Wyatt; and an illustration for James Stephen's Irish Fairy Tales by Arthur Rackham (1867-1939). Photograph: Tilly looking rather less elegant than Ozzie, the gentle whippet in David's painting.

Recommended Reading

In the field

I'm working on a long post for tomorrow, so today it's just a quick one with some recommended reading, and an update on Tilly's progress.

Our brave girl is doing better in her second week of post-operative recovery. She's now allowed to take gentle, ten-minute walks to build up her strength again...although she still has to wear her onesie (to protect her stitches), and put up with the indignity of a onesie-inspired new nickname, Little Sausage. Here she is in a nearby field, where I took a morning coffee break while she sat quietly beside me, content to watch, listen, smell the wind, and dream of longer walks to come.

Sniffing the wind

Below, a round-up of interesting articles that I've come across recently:

* "Imagination and the Age of Reason: Magic is Metaphor for Power of Mind" by Joanne Harris (Foreward Reviews)

* "Books were my crazy, wise companions in a conservative world" by Elif Shafek (The Pool)

* "Falling under the spell of fairytales and myths" by John Dugdale (Guardian Books)

* "'Get your head out of that book!': Children's stories that inspired leading writers," edited by Antonia Fraser (Guardian Books)

* "A pictorial celebration of the life and work of Joan Aiken" by her daughter, Lizza Aiken (Guardian Books)

* "The Tale of the Seven Stories" by David Almond (Guardian Books)

* "There Are No Recipes," advice for aspiring writers by Ursula K. Le Guin (Guardian Books)

Watching, hearing, smelling, waiting


* "Reader, You Married Him: Male Writers, Female Readers, and the Marriage Plot" by Alix Ohlin (Los Angeles Review of Books)

* "Should Ethnicity Limit What a Fiction Writer Can Write?," an interesting essay on a contentious subject, by Susan Barker (Los Angeles Review of Books)

* "Friendly Fire," Andrew O'Hagan on the importance of friendship, and on making moral choices as a writer (Bookanista)

* "Art is a Form of Active Prayer," on Melissa Pritchard's A Solemn Pleasure: To Imagine, Witness, and Write, by Maria Popova (Brain Pickings)

* "An Introverted Writer's Lament" by Meghan Tifft (The Atlantic)

* "When you lack self-confidence" by Sarah Elwell (Knitting the Wind)

Water & wildflowers

* "Cat Pianos, Sound-Houses, and Other Imaginary Musical Instruments" by Deirdre Loughridge & Thomas Patteson (The Public Domain)

* "A Lazarus Beside Me," an encounter with W.B. Yeats, by Avies Platt (London Review of Books)

* "My Gypsy Childhood" by Roxy Freeman (The Guardian)

* "Photographic Pres­ence and Contemporary Indians," a photographic project by Matika Wilbur (Yes Magazine)

* "Our Footprints on the Earth," on defending beauty and wilderness, by Ilira Walker (The Dark Mountain Project)

* "Restoring Peace: Six Ways Nature in Our Lives Can Reduce the Violence in Our World" by Richard Louv (Children & Nature Network)

* "Look, Don't Touch," an essay on children and nature by David Sobel (Orion Magazine)

* "An Uncommon Gratitude," an essay on place, loss, and unexpected gifts by Trebbe Johnson (Orion Magazine)

Brave Little Sausage

ProfileThe poem in the picture captions is from Dark. Sweet. by Linda Hogan (Coffee House Press, 2014); all rights reserved by the author.