Letters to the Earth: a book review

My latest choice from the non-resolution book pile turned out to be a rather quick and easy read. In fact, it has taken me longer to get round to writing this blog post than it did to read the whole book. With the longer books in my TBR pile ahead of me, it was nice to have a little light reading before heading into the final furlong.

Next, I think I will return to the books on writing advice with Swallowed by a Whale; how to survive the Writing Life. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the last book of writing advice, so I look forward to delving into this one.

First, let’s find out a little more about Letters to the Earth

Letters to the Earth; Writing to a Planet in Crisis

My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

There is nothing surprising about the contents this book, the title really does give the game away. Arising from the 2019 Extinction Rebellion, this book presents some of the best letters written by ordinary members of the public as part of this campaign (as well as the odd professional piece as well, see below for details). When it can often feel like individuals are powerless in the face of something such as climate change, this book offered just a small way for individual voices to be heard.

Comprising traditional letters, short stories and poetry, the book is divided into five sections (Loss, Love, Emergence, Hope, Action) which immediately reminded me of my own collection of short stories A Tale in Few Words which I grouped into almost identical parts. With a clear focus on the crisis facing the Earth, Letters also tries to inspire hope and poses a call to climate activism, and with contributors as young as 7 making up the writers, it goes a little way to inspire hope still for humanity and our survival.

What I really liked

  1. The contributions from the children in the book (granted most of them are teenagers, a couple younger as I mentioned above) was particularly inspiring. If anything, I preferred these pieces over the more professionally written pieces from the adults.
  2. A scattering of artwork throughout the book complemented the writing perfectly, and felt appropriate in a book which is aimed at inspiring its readers.

The less good bits

  1. To be honest the contributions of the adults began to grate by the end of the book. Partly this was the poetry (I must confess I am not a poetry fan), but partly it is because it felt like the adults were wallowing rather than accepting the reality of the climate crisis and then advocating for doing something about it.
  2. Even more than the adults, the professional pieces felt completely out of place and unnecessary. From song lyrics (including Yoko Ono and Sam Lee) to essays and poetry, it felt at odds with the ethos of the book (giving ordinary people a voice) to include professional writers who have a voice elsewhere. If they had been removed entirely and replaced with more pieces from the public, it would have been an infinitely better book.

Summary

Letters to the Earth is an easy read on a crucially important and potential depressing topic. This book is inspirational and frustrating in equal measure, but certainly worth setting aside a couple of hours to devour.

Who should read this book? Anyone who is even remotely interested in the planet, the harm we are doing to our home and looking for the inspiration and motivation to do something about it.

Have you read Letters to the Earth or got it on the TBR pile? What did you feel of the contrast between the children’s and the adult’s pieces? Did you like the inclusion of professional writers? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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