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Robert Macfarlane's Desert Island Books

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Robert Macfarlane's debut, Mountains of the Mind, was released to unanimous praise - and a string of literary accolades - in 2003. His writing has since established a new authority on the relationship between nature, identity and art, and in so doing cemented his reputation as one of the region's most prolific naturalists. Macfarlane's latest book, The Old Ways: A Journey On Foot, will be published by Hamish Hamilton this month and has already been hailed by Roger Deakin as "adventurous, passionate, [and] intensely romantic".

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1. Best book about trips or journeys.

Patrick Leigh-Fermor's astonishing, inspirational, stylistically curlicued A Time Of Gifts, about his walk from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople in 1933: it sets my feet itching every time I read it.

2. Which book are you mostly likely to pick as your ultimate survival manual?

Cormac McCarthy's The Road. When the apocalypse comes, I want a copy of it in my shopping trolley.

3. Which author would you most like to go on a vacation with, and what would you be doing?

Samuel Taylor Coleridge. We would be on a five-day walking tour dot-to-dotting the waterfalls of the Lake District, in bright sunshine, but following a week of heavy rain.

4. The Lord of the Flies was once described as embodying the "diversity and universality of.. the human condition in the world of today". Which character do you reckon you are most like?

A great question. Declared in a spirit of honesty but a tone of reluctance, I have to say - Ralph.

5. If there was one book you had to burn for firewood, which would it be?

Henry James's The Golden Bowl. Read a page, burn a page. It's the only way I'll ever get through it.

6. Which paragraph or line from a novel would you choose for your final 'message in a bottle'?

"But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me and sivilize me and I can't stand it. I been there before." (The last line of Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn)

Image by Richard Hubert Smith.

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