Cover Image: Light Rains Sometimes Fall

Light Rains Sometimes Fall

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Member Reviews

I love the idea behind this one; taking the ancient Japanese system of seasons, if which there are 72, and applying them to the authors local patch, this 'Bears start hibernating in their dens' becomes 'Unremitting grey skies'. This was a lovely book to dip into and savour. Apparently, the original idea was to travel the UK, but this was written in 2020 and so lockdown. I think I preferred having it set in one location and getting to know that part more intimately.

I loved how the author takes pleasure in the small things that sometimes go unnoticed, like a spider web, or the misses and lichens, as well as the everyday that we take for granted. I see Blue and Great Tits everyday, flocking around the bird table and love watching them, they are so acrobatic, and yet because they are always around, it could be easy to take little notice of them. I also found reading about his lockdown experience interesting, staring friendly through the gates of the cemetery which was a part of his usual walking route but was shut up, and joy when it was re-opened. It was also shot through with humour; take this imaginary conversation between two (dead) creatures: 
 "Yeah. How about you?"
 "What did you do?"
 "Built a nest. You?"
 " dunno really. I think I was just there."
 "What is their problem?"
 "No idea."I

What indeed?

I'm looking forward to reading this again over a year so I can read about each season as it's happening.

*Many thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for a review copy in exchange for an honest opinion*
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This was an absolute delight to read. Parikian takes the idea of the 72 Japanese micro-seasons, each lasting 5-6 days and attempts to apply them in a similar fashion to the British year, using a close observation of the natural world. Originally he was to have ranged up and down the country, but COVID stopped play and meant that he was confined to within a short distance of his London home.

I think the book is all the better for it. It forces Parikian to be even more attentive and noticing and create an ongoing relationship with some of the creatures that he encounters, the graveyard fox and the peregrine that he sees perching on the church spire. It gives a real sense of belonging to the writing that. I loved.

This is gentle and thoughtful and extremely lovely. Just reading it made me feel calm.
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Four seasons are not really enough to describe the myriad weather patterns that we encounter throughout the year. It turns out that the Japanese have 72 different “seasons” that encompass the weather they experience over the course of a year. Parikian uses these beautifully descriptive phrases to describe the weather patterns in the UK in this lovely, meditative book. A gentle balm to Covid weary souls
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An interesting application of Japan's seasons to those in a small town in England. This is not the type of book that you read, but rather you peruse it. Because of that, I feel it would have been greatly enhanced by some illustrations and made into more of a beautiful coffee table book.  I'm a little envious of the author; it must have been terrible fun to write!
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I requested this because I was hoping to find oit more about the Japanese concept of micro-seasons -- what they entail, how this translates to Western climate, how & when this system was established, that kind of thing, combined with the author's examination and exploration of the natural world surrounding him using the kō system. What I got was some guy in London describing his daily walks. That's basically it. Not all that exciting, also written in a rather workman-like prose I didn't find especially evocative, so sadly it didn't even make for escapist reading. I was also surprised that it did not feature any illustrations, as I thought the gorgeous cover hinted at more beauty inside.
I'm now looking into sekki and kō by myself, seeing if I can find/work out a correlation with my local climate zone; I actually DNF this, but probably will return to it throughout the year whenever I feel like it.

Thank you, Netgalley and publisher, for the opportunity to read an ARC of this book.
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My thanks to Elliot and Thompson and NetGalley for a review copy of this book.

‘Stop and smell the roses’ we are sometimes told or tell ourselves. Slow down, look about, and take in the beauty and wonders of life around you at all times—it isn’t just flowers, but birds, insects, bees and butterflies, trees and plants, and much more. And that’s what Lev Parikian’s Light Rains Sometimes Fall: A British Year through Japan’s 72 Seasons invites us to do.

We usually think of seasons in terms of the typical four—spring, summer, autumn, and winter, but really, depending on where in the world one is, these vary and can be more or less in number (here in India, the monsoon is, of course, another). The Japanese conception of seasons is very different with the four seasons divided into six and further three subdivisions, totalling to 72 micro-seasons of five days each. Each of these reflect the subtle little changes in weather, the coming or going of seasonal birds, insects, frogs, or flowers, the ripening or harvest of a fruit or a crop and such. Using these micro-seasons as a guide, the author charts his observations of the changes in the place where he lives—South London—mostly his home and neighbourhood, and the cemetery where he takes his daily walks, for the year he writes his experiences of began in February 2020, and not long after he started, lockdown began.

From new leaves appearing in spring, to subtle changes in the weather, the arrival of the seasonal birds he watches out for every year, to butterflies, bees, and dragonflies, little insects or spiders, or even mushrooms cropping up in hidden corners, mosses and lichens, the author traces it all. Each chapter is named after his own observations of that period such as ‘Dunnock defies the traffic noise’, ‘Bird song fills the air’, ‘Maple reaches peak of glory’ or ‘Bracken turns to bronze’. Alongside, we also find in each chapter, the name of its Japanese counterpart (oftentimes very different) like ‘Chrysanthemums bloom’, ‘First lotus blossoms’, ‘Thick fog descends’, ‘Silkworms start feasting on mulberry leaves’, or ‘Tachibana citrus tree leaves turn yellow’ (both in English and Kanji)—some names in either case, are poetic and others plain. 

The book is written in a casual, chatty tone (the ‘f’ word creeps in quite a few times) pretty much as though the author is speaking to us of his experiences, but is filled with lovely, detailed descriptions of all that he observes, but at the same time also a thread of humour running through it, which I enjoyed. (Besides the actual humour, I also found myself laughing a little at his terming 30oC weather as baking coming from a place where 44 is quite regularly reached; and our winter sees 2oC too, even if we don’t have snow and ice.) But don’t let the humour and causal tone fool you, for the author, a keen birder with other books to his credit knows his birds, and even though he is a little self-deprecatory about it, he also knows about other aspects of nature as well, and his knowledge shines through in the book.

The seasons themselves, even when subdivided into such small periods, aren’t quite so easy to compartmentalize, as the author tells as, for nature ‘rolls and waves, ebbs and flows, the distinctions often too blurred for us to notice’. They also have the ability to surprise for even the birds the author knows to expect at a certain time, can still surprise him while alongside, on some occasions there are bigger surprises in the sighting of unexpected birds or butterflies, among others. But whether commonplace or unusual, much of what the author sees, because of how closely he observes it, and the attention he pays to it, has the ability to amaze, surprise and cause his eyes to pop with wonder. As he writes

‘…looking closely at something as it were for the first time—it’s a way of finding beauty and interest in the mundane, learning to appreciate the things that form the backdrop to everyday life’.

And it is not just the aesthetics of these but also the feats they are able to accomplish—from tiny creatures migrating several thousand miles, to others knowing just where they have hidden hundreds of acorns. The author has his favourites among them of course, and also some he doesn’t approve of—as would any person. (Of course, I don’t, like him, find poor parakeets or grey squirrels annoying, nor am I able to not get queasy about the unpleasant sides of nature—I might not fault the predator, but I do pity the prey.). 

Nature is all around us, yet in our daily lives, ‘civilised’ as we call ourselves, most of us have all but cut ourselves from it. As the author writes, ‘we have become estranged from the rhythms of nature’ (this is in contrast to Japanese culture which has words for moon-viewing (tsukimi), viewing the cherry blossoms (hanami) and even leaf viewing (momijigiri)—a connect with nature lacking in others, and more so in modern life). We try to master and control it or fear it, rather than treating it with the respect or love it deserves. Even if not as intently as the author, if we would stop for a moment and take in the wonders that the world around us has—from the smallest to the largest thing—not only would our daily lives be a little brighter, perhaps, one would be able to avoid catastrophes like the one we have landed ourselves in now.   

I really enjoyed reading the book, which also led me to look up a lot of British birds that I was unfamiliar with like dunnocks, firecrests etc. My favourite part though turned out to be a very straightforward sentence about the Harvest Moon—‘The Harvest Moon is simply the full moon that occurs nearest the autumn equinox’, for this was the full moon I stood up on my terrace looking at just the day I was reading this book, and indeed the next evening in line with the moon festival and Tsukimi!

A wonderful read for birders and nature lovers.

4..5 stars
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“Light Rains Sometimes Fall: A British Year Through Japan’s 72 Seasons” is the latest quirky, rewarding outing of British conductor and nature chronicler Lev Parikian. Framing a year as six dozen traditional Japanese “seasons” of around five days, with each chapter listing the Japanese traditional phrases associated with each “season,” the author describes a year of exploring his own British town turf: the cemetery, the streets, the parks, his own garden. And of course his project fitted perfectly into the pandemic-locked-down world we faced over 2020 and into 2021. Parikian is a devout birder, and superb at describing birds and their sounds and habits, but he’s also an endlessly curious naturalist, beginning journeys of learning about butterflies, plants, wasps, you name it.  His effortless style marries lyricism, intelligence, humor and adept pacing. Listen: “But without getting too ‘the stars are God’s daisy chain’ about it, all I can say is that after five minutes of simply standing still in the presence of this bird, I feel better. Would I go so far as to say it sparks joy? I would.” And: “Yes, light rains do sometimes fall, as do heavy ones. And then there are the occasional torrential downpours, the kind that feel like some sort of endurance test.” I strongly recommend Light Rains Sometimes Fall; if any book can persuade you to see more closely, this is it.
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Thank you Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this.

This is beautifully written, following a year in a town in London, on the Japanese approach of seasons.

I found this very enjoyable, as I learnt both Japanese and British cultures, as we move through the seasons and the year, during the pandemic.

Very well written, that I was able to almost visualise my version of the scenes described.

Personally, for me, this was a slow read, but it did give me a good break from all the usual books I read, which for me, was very much appreciated.
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How often have we ever stopped to appreciate a spider's web and the care that was taken to create it? If you enjoy slow walks down the garden path, this book is perfect. 

This nature-journal style book takes you by the hand and leads you on a walk with the author as an experience of intentional recognition of the seasons. Through stories of romanticized walks, the author describes appreciating a bird song to noting the veins of leaves. This book has stayed with me long after I finished it because of the writing style of the author, as you experience the journey through the seasons it feels like you were on the walks too. I thoroughly enjoyed it and will reread it!

This book was provided to me through NetGalley for an Honest Review.
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There is no shortage of recent books about nature, but Lev Parikian takes a very clever and original approach in this highly enjoyable book. As Parikian points out, the division of the year into seasons is entirely arbitrary and artificial: while we have four, three and six are just as common, so Parikian decides to adopt the traditional Japanese custom of dividing the year into seventy-two microseasons, each lasting five or six days. Variations in weather and climate mean that these microseasons won't necessarily all be the same year on year, but by breaking the year down into such small segments, Parikian creates an opportunity to look carefully at the world around him and notice the gradual, almost imperceptible changes which are constantly at work. 

We follow Parikian through one cycle of 72 seasons, beginning in February 2020. This obviously means that this is also a chronicle of the first year of Covid-19, and the scope of Parikian's project changes as a result - rather than venturing further afield, his observations are confined to his neighbourhood in West Norwood, particularly his garden and his local cemetery where he takes his daily walks, lending the book a focus and clarity beyond what was originally conceived. The pandemic casts a shadow over the book but is only mentioned on a handful of occasions, and is never allowed to dominate. As Parikian observes, this only goes show how nature carries on regardless of human activity (or lack of it). 

Parikian proves an excellent companion and commentator through these seasons: never pious, worthy or sentimental, he offers the enthusiasm and exuberance of a recent convert, making us feel we are just as capable of paying close attention to our surroundings as he is. His tone is often irreverent but he captures some moments of true beauty, and engages seriously with weightier questions of climate change and the impact of human behaviour on the natural world. 

This is quite a slow read - the book would become a blur of details if devoured too quickly - and might be most enjoyed of all if read in real time with one chapter every five days or so. This is not a weakness of the book but rather a reflection of what Parikian is trying to communicate: the benefits of slowing down and paying attention.  I loved this book and it has definitely made me think differently about the passing of time over a year and the changes we see in the world around us. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me an ARC to review.
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Lev Parikian’s beautiful book is a very clever and unique melding of Japanese wisdom and British pragmatism. In seventy-two short chapters he views the changes in the British seasons through the prism of the Japanese concept of micro-seasons. 
Wandering his favourite local areas including his own garden, the surrounding streets, park and local cemetery, he spots beauty in the wild as well as the mundane. 
We get delightful chapters entitled “Sogginess Prevails” and “Starling Hullabaloo” to remind us that we definitely are still in Britain. There is something wonderfully non-digital about this book which offers a welcome break from our hectic modern lives.
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So beautifully written a unique idea breaking the seasons into Japanese seasons.The author involves us in his British world and Japanese traditions.I loved reading this book and will be gifting it to friends,.#netgalley@#elliott&thompson
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Lev Parikian is a writer I really resonate with - someone who is interested in nature and the world around them (both immediately local and in general) but a bit haphazard and bumbling.
The idea of splitting 2020 up into the small Japanses seasons (as well as the four main seasons, each of these is divided down so you can mark them moving forward in a smaller way) is genius - it was such an odd year both weather-wise and because of the pandemic and Light Rain Sometimes Fall helps to mark this. Time seemed to crawl and rush by in weird ways in 2020 and  by splitting the year into 72 smaller seasons Parikian really captures how this felt.

The other think I really liked about this book was that Parikian looked new things/words/phenomena up and wanted to share this knowledge however unlikely it is to be of use to any one - I do this all the time and this really made the books seem just right. There have been a lot of books about nature and 2020 that I've read and enjoyed to some degree but this shoots very quickly to the top of my best of 2021 list.
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An enjoyable look at a year in a town in London by a local naturalist in the midst of the pandemic. Reads like a well written detailed journal with bits of humor about the things the author observes while out and about. The author describes all of the boots that catches his eye in such a way that the reader can visualize the biodiversity of the authors neighborhood.
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Fascinating! Beautiful concept and execution. I loved learning more about both Japanese and British culture and works view through the seasons. Very well done. Loved it.
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'Light Rains Sometimes Fall' is a great book for winding down to. Premised on the Japanese approach of 72 "microseasons", Parikian weaves his own 72 microseasons from the urban wildlife of London, encouraging us to slow down and appreciate the nature so close to us.

Owing to when the book was written, the microseasons mainly overlap with the 2020 lockdowns, lending an urgency to draw solace from the natural world that you can palpably feel as a reader. Most of Parikian's writing is pure observation, though he throws in morsels of natural history from time to time. His style is affable and inviting, and I found the book really enjoyable to dip into at the end of each day. Due to its nature, it didn't have the narrative drive to keep me slavishly turning the pages, but it was nevertheless a delightful foray into London's wild wonders.

(With thanks to Elliott & Thompson and NetGalley for this ebook in exchange for an honest review)
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Okay, so I'm not a bird watcher, a nature fan or much of a gardener. Admittedly, the only reason I requested this ARC was because it referenced Japanese seasons on such a pretty front cover. 

I thought it would have lots of poetic info on Japan's seasons in relation to ours in Britain - there is an element of this, with a great explanation of their 72 micro seasons and each beautiful chapter title. However, don't go into this expecting to read majoritively about Japan.

HOWEVER I also didn't expect to laugh so much. Honestly, I was stopping every five minutes to read out another witty line to my partner. Not only is there a great deal of well-written humour - the overall style is poetic, lyrical and full of relatable, personal experiences on a small and large scale.

Some bits made me feel really sad - his mention of being glad at the goldcrest's song as he knew age would one day mean he couldn't hear it. Some moments were really touching - picking out the small details of the sun on flowers, the colours or songs of particular birds. Some of it was quite distressing - he takes us through his experience from just before the start of lockdown in 2020, a year that has shaken us all.

But in his small weekly musings, there is a great deal of joy and beauty to be found. Parikian encourages us to notice the world around us and appreciate every single moment of wonder it offers up. He balances the worry with humour and hope.

I was really wowed by this book, being completely not what I expected, but I look forward to getting the hardback when it's out, and probably his other works too! I'll certainly spend more time enjoy the songs of the birds

Thanks to @NetGalley and @levparikian for the chance to enjoy this brilliant eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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