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Common Ground
Common Ground | Rob Cowen
16 posts | 2 read | 13 to read
Immersive, evocative and powerful, Common Ground is a unique evocation of how, over the course of one year, Rob Cowen discovered a common -- though extraordinary -- square mile of wood, meadow, hedge and river on the edge of his northern town. 'I am dreaming of the edge-land again.' After moving from London to a new home in Yorkshire, Rob Cowen finds himself on unfamiliar territory, disoriented, hemmed in by winter and yearning for the nearest open space. So one night, he sets out to find it -- a pylon-slung edge-land, a tangle of wood, meadow, field and river on the outskirts of town. Despite being in the shadow of thousands of houses, it feels unclaimed, forgotten, caught between worlds, and all the more magical for it. Obsessively revisiting this contested ground, Cowen ventures deeper into its many layers and lives, documenting its changes through time and season and unearthing histories that profoundly resonate and intertwine with transformative events happening in his own life. Blurring the boundaries of memoir, natural history and novel, Common Ground offers nothing less than an enthralling new way of writing about nature and our experiences within it. We encounter the edge-land's inhabitants in immersive, kaleidoscopic detail as their voices and visions rise from the fields and woods: beasts, birds, insects, plants and people -- the beggars, sages and lovers across the ages. Startlingly personal and poetic, this is a unique portrait of a forgotten realm and a remarkable evocation of how, over the course of a year, a man came to know himself once more by unlocking it. But, above all, this is a book that reasserts a vital truth: nature isn't just found in some remote mountain or protected park. It is all around us. It is in us. It is us.
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squirrelbrain
Common Ground | Rob Cowen
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#thankfulthursday

The tagged book is NF about common ground less than a mile from my house.

1. I met the author Joanne Harris (Chocolat) a couple of years ago.
2. Thankful to be starting a new job on Monday next week.

Thanks for the tag @kaysworld1 ! Anyone else want to play along?

Mitch Oh - congratulations on the new job. That must be a relief xx 2y
Cosmos_Moon Congratulations on the new job! I hope it goes well and you love it 🥰 2y
squirrelbrain Thanks @Cosmos_Moon @Mitch - it is a relief but will be hard work to start with.... much less reading for me! 2y
JennyM Congrats on the new job. 😘 2y
Kelly_the_Bookish_Sidekick Congratulations & good luck! 2y
53 likes5 comments
review
squirrelbrain
Common Ground | Rob Cowen
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Pickpick

I nearly gave up on this at the beginning as it badly represented the area where I live. (see comment)However I persevered and enjoyed it in the end. The author has just moved back to the area and spends time in the ‘edgeland‘ on the outskirts of town, where he learns about his own life as well as the surrounding wildlife.

There were still some niggles, such as the anthropomorphism of many of the animals, but overall it‘s an interesting read.

squirrelbrain You can see where I live on the map and, interestingly, all of the negative reviews on GR are from people who also live in the area. It‘s misrepresented by references to an urban setting - maybe suburban but definitely not urban. He talks about the ring road, which doesn‘t exist, and at one point refers to a car screeching to a halt at a red light. The nearest traffic lights are 1.5 miles away so he must have good hearing... 2y
rockpools Oh that‘s interesting- I totally see how that would niggle - I‘d have probably bailed! I guess it falls into that weird fictionalised nonfiction grey area. Still, glad you can cross it off your list now. 2y
squirrelbrain Yes, @RachelO , he made it sound almost ‘inner city‘ when really it‘s more like a village round here. Makes for a better story if you contrast nature with litter and noise I suppose, but it‘s not correct! But, yes, at least it‘s ticked off now 😁 2y
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TrishB Definitely not inner city! I probably would have bailed in frustration... 2y
squirrelbrain I nearly did @TrishB, but so many people loved it I thought I should give it a chance.... 2y
eraderneely Hate when books get geography you know well completely wrong. I threw No Exit across the room because it screwed up Colorado so bad in the first 10 pages. 2y
squirrelbrain So frustrating @eraderneely - and worse as I felt he was denigrating my local area as well as getting it so wrong. 2y
eraderneely That‘s not nice to read at all 2y
67 likes8 comments
blurb
squirrelbrain
Common Ground | Rob Cowen
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I thought I‘d cheer myself up by joining back in with some of the challenges, which I haven‘t done for a few months....

I‘ve posted this book before and every time that I do, I always say that I really ought to read it as it‘s set around a mile from my house.....

I *really* ought to read this book soon... 😁

Thanks so much for hosting every month @Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks @OriginalCyn620 😘

#magnificentmarch
#wildlifeonthecover

rockpools Hey Helen! You *really* ought to read that book soon (I love it!! Not sure that there are any squirrels in it though.) 2y
squirrelbrain I know, I know @RachelO - you do keep telling me off for not reading it.... !🤣🤣 2y
rockpools @squirrelbrain I‘m sorry! 😂😂😂 Bad case of pot-kettle. My local books are ALWAYS at the bottom of the heap. I planned to have a good tackle of them this year - I‘ve managed 1 book and 6 pages!! 2y
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squirrelbrain Oh and I‘m *not* just trotting off to the shops with a (d0 book voucher to treat myself, because clearly I already have enough books.... @RachelO ?‍♀️ 2y
rockpools @squirrelbrain yeah, but you need to spend vouchers quick cos they expire. Books don‘t. #logic 2y
Crazeedi @squirrelbrain I need to get back in the challenges I wanted to do too. For some reason my reading has been all over the place, and so I've just been going with it instead of worrying about finding books that fit. My bad🙄 2y
JennyM I love the cover 🐇 2y
OriginalCyn620 Love the book cover and your bookends! 🐿 2y
squirrelbrain You‘re right - think we‘re all struggling at the moment Diane, and need to read the ‘right‘ book for us, rather than trying to complete challenges... @Crazeedi 2y
Tamra I want to read this!! 2y
Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks You‘re welcome! Thank you for participating and for the awesome stickers! I love them! ❤️ 2y
73 likes1 stack add11 comments
blurb
squirrelbrain
Common Ground | Rob Cowen
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I haven‘t read this yet, but really should.... Cowan moves from London to Yorkshire and uses his local woods and the connection with nature to reorient his own life - the woods are less than a mile from my house!
#downinthewoods
#ayupaugust

*Richard Hawley was born in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, in 1967*

erzascarletbookgasm Cool that the woods are so near you! And the cover reminds me of another book 😁 3y
TrishB Sounds like a good read 👍🏻 3y
Cathythoughts Great cover 3y
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kathedron It's a really good book! 3y
Cinfhen YOU really SHOULD read this hometown book, Helen!! It sounds fab 3y
squirrelbrain It does look like Watership Down doesn‘t it?! @erzascarletbookgasm 3y
squirrelbrain I will get round to it soon... promise! @Cinfhen @kathedron 3y
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quote
rockpools
Common Ground | Rob Cowen
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Swifts must have the #WildestDreams.

Thanks for another amazing challenge @Cinfhen 😀 #AugustGrrrl

LeahBergen Wow. That's amazing. 5y
rockpools @LeahBergen We have them above our house each summer. I love watching them 🐦 5y
Simona I didn't know that! So interesting! 5y
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rockpools @Simona They're incredible birds! 5y
kathedron I loved that book. I saw the swifts from my kitchen window yesterday. I'm always glad to see them. I suppose it won't be long now until they're off again. 5y
rockpools @River_Voice Me too! You're the first person I've found who's read it. It's been agood swift-year here -we've had at least 7 or 8 (impossible to count!) - last year I saw 3 at a time tops. Will be sorry to see them go. 5y
Leniverse How do they nest in the air?! 5y
rockpools @Leniverse Hm. Wording's not great there - I'll double check it later, maybe i miscopied. The only time they land is to nest/lay eggs - as soon as they're fledged, they're on the wing all the rest of the time, including sleeping. Nesting on the wing could be... unpleasant?! (edited) 5y
Leniverse I had this mental image of a family group of swifts carrying a nest between them, taking it in turns to lie on the eggs. 😂 5y
rockpools @Leniverse 😂😂😂🐣I was thinking I'm going to need a bigger umbrella 😬 5y
Cinfhen My friends have a lake house and the swifts come every to build a huge nest on their flag pole! It's pretty incredible 😍well played👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 5y
Cinfhen And this book sounds amazing 😉 5y
rockpools @Cinfhen That sounds fantastic - you wouldn't imagine anything could nest on a flagpole! (And yes - the book's great!) 5y
34 likes13 comments
blurb
Mrsschofield741
Common Ground | Rob Cowen
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This book has a bunny on the cover. That is all. 😍🐇 #Lifescience #cardifflibrary #rabbit

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rockpools
Common Ground | Rob Cowen
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I'm kind of flipping this prompt a bit. This book is almost the opposite of the song #catsinthecradle. It's a guy taking time, watching, listening, getting his head straight, and working out what's important, before the birth of his first son. It's also the story of a patch of land, a fox, a stag and a butterfly. And it's wonderful.

#rockinmay

rockpools It ends: "In many ways I wish I could have written a neater story but I suppose edge-lands, like our lives, are tangled stories that write themselves. And for all the pages we might fill, nothing comes close to a second of being here. We sit quietly, the boy and me, until the goldcrest has gone. After a while I close the notebook, tuck it in next to him, and turn us both for home" (edited) 5y
rockpools @TobeyTheScavengerMonk Would love to hear what you think, when you get to it. 5y
Cinfhen Sounds beautiful 💜💚💜 5y
34 likes2 stack adds4 comments
blurb
rockpools
Common Ground | Rob Cowen
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It was a good reading month! Graphic novels were a new format for me, thanks to readharder, lots of poetry thanks to # litsypoetry365. I'm yet to make any progress with AtoZ - 24 of those are from my shelves, so that might be my February plan!

I read some cracking books though! #januarywrapup #ro17

review
rockpools
Common Ground | Rob Cowen
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Pickpick

I won this on Twitter, and didn't expect to fall headlong in love with it. Cowen moves to Harrogate, loses his job, and discovers he's going to be a father. He also finds the edge-land, the animals and plants that make it, its history and its people over the years.

About half-way through, this stepped up from something interesting and beautiful, to Something More. The nature writing's full and stunning, and his experience of impending 👇

rockpools 👆fatherhood is also beautifully told. Had expected to need to skim those bits. I didn't! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 6y
Lacythebookworm Great review! 😊 6y
shawnmooney It was already on my TBR, but your extraordinary review has bumped it up - way up! 6y
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shawnmooney Ha! Just checked iBooks and got it there for about $6! 6y
rockpools @shawnmooney 😄🙌🏼🙌🏼🙌🏼 I do hope you enjoy it! 6y
rockpools @Lacythebookworm 😊 Thank you! 6y
21 likes6 comments
blurb
rockpools
Common Ground | Rob Cowen
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#readjanuary #page24ofcurrentread

Yes, it's taking me *forever* to read, but I really love this book. On page 24, we're just getting to know the edgeland, and desperately hoping to catch a glimpse of the fox. The fox ain't so keen on the idea.

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rockpools
Common Ground | Rob Cowen
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Good morning! Just starting #24in48 and a mug of tea - I'd love to get a couple of my in-progress books actually finished this weekend, and I've got some graphic novels for good measure. Life's a bit lifey right now, so I won't be going for the 24 hours. If you are - happy reading, and remember to wriggle your toes regularly! If you're marching, hugs, stay safe, and meet amazing people.

TrishB 😄 life's too lifey......me too! I have a job application to write this werkend and would much rather read..... 6y
rockpools @TrishB ooh. Good luck with the application! Hope something wonderful comes of it ? I've reached that stage where I'm reading but my head's going "yeah, but - all the Things!", so guess it's time to move. 6y
TrishB Have a good weekend 😀 6y
24 likes1 stack add3 comments
blurb
rockpools
Common Ground | Rob Cowen
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#bookwithpictures #seasonsreadings2017

Each chapter begins with one of the author's linocuts of wildlife found on the common.

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rockpools
Common Ground | Rob Cowen
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On the bright side, my #bestofnovember are the two I'm currently reading.
#photoadaynov16

cathysaid Common Ground sounds intriguing. Looking forward to your review. 6y
rockpools @cathysaid So far, it's beautiful! 6y
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rockpools
Common Ground | Rob Cowen
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#greatopeninglines

I do NOT need to start another book. But. Map! Words!

*starts another book*

BookishMarginalia So cool! 6y
rockpools @BookishMarginalia I'm only a few pages in and I've fallen totally in love with this book. 6y
26 likes1 stack add2 comments
blurb
Kkhalifeh
Common Ground | Rob Cowen
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Lovely new book (and a little bunny side-eye) with coffee. My Tuesday is complete. The bunny, however, is going to go sleep under my bed.

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rockpools
Common Ground | Rob Cowen
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Utterley gorgeous #bookmail. This is a Wainwright Prize shortlisted book that I won on Twitter. Love the linocut pics inside as well - can't wait to start this one.

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