The trouble with new books is that they prevent us from us from reading the old ones. That is what Joseph Joubert argued at the turn of the 19th century, and he’s surely right (though you might want to make an exception for my books!). We now need to go out of our way to read old books, though it’s certainly worth the effort.
Take this great book, which I stumbled upon the other day, for instance: Maud Jepson’s Biological Drawings first published in 1938. It is a real delight to the eyes (reminding me of Wainwright’s guides to the Lake District) and a feast for the mind as well. It’s also sobering to discover that it was written in part, as far as I can tell, for School Certificate pupils (an early equivalent of GCSEs).
Here’s a sample page:
And here is the life history of the frog:
I’m clearly going to have to up my game for my nature journal.