I found myself reading a lot this past year, picking up books old and new. Juliane Fürst’s Flowers Through Concrete: Explorations in Soviet Hippieland provided an insight into hippy subcultures of the Soviet Union; Public House: A Cultural and Social History of the London Pub explored the pub as a social, political and architectural space; while Kenneth Womack’s Long and Winding Roads: The Evolving Artistry of The Beatles gave me an excuse to revisit familiar songs and put Peter Jackson’s documentary series into context.
The most influential book I read this year, however, was Merlin Sheldrake’s Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures. This is a comprehensive but accessible text on how significant fungi are to life on this planet. Suddenly mushrooms were everywhere, not least in the brilliantly illustrated children’s book Humongous Fungus. In October, my family and I participated in an urban foraging walk and workshop, led by Czech filmmaker Alice Dušová, in East London’s Lea Valley. Both the book and walk changed my outlook on nature, particularly its interrelationship with urban spaces, and helped to shake off my post-lockdown malaise.
Originally published by Wire, December 2021