By Robert Macfarlane,

Book cover of Underland: A Deep Time Journey

Book description

In Underland, Robert Macfarlane delivers an epic exploration of the Earth's underworlds as they exist in myth, literature, memory, and the land itself. Traveling through the dizzying expanse of geologic time-from prehistoric art in Norwegian sea caves, to the blue depths of the Greenland ice cap, to a deep-sunk "hiding…

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Why read it?

4 authors picked Underland as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

When we talk about nature, we think of trees, lakes, rivers, oceans, mountains. But there is a parallel world that exists right beneath our feet! 

MacFarlane’s narration flows in a dreamlike prose and moves in gentle and deep shifts. The book that describes itself as “A book about burial and unburial and deep time” is one of the most mesmerising books on natural history that I have read. The prose is as transcendental as the subject matter. Formidably and masterfully told.

This is one of the most gorgeous, profound, and nail-biting books I have ever read. We may be an above-ground species, but, as MacFarlane shows, our underground spaces reveal as much if not about much about the human impact on planet earth. They illuminate “the deep time legacies we are leaving.” Stops on his underground tour include: the invisible city of tunnels beath Paris streets; a remote Norwegian sea cave filled with ancient wall paintings; hollowed-out mountains on the Italy-Slovak border soaked with wartime atrocities. But the most moving journey is into Greenland glaciers where ice sheets tens of thousands…

The title does not understate. There are underworlds in the form of caverns and crevasses and mines and underground rivers, and Macfarlane seems to have explored every one of them. And survived; survival, in some of these explorations, was in question. He brings the subterranean into the light for those of us who’ve never ventured into the dark, confined, and bizarre spaces beneath the earth’s surface--and never will. He explores and illuminates the geography and the geology. He writes so vividly you’ll think you are there.

From Toni's list on badass geology books.

Humans create all kinds of borders. They’re invaluable in helping us make sense of the world. Robert Macfarlane’s book brilliantly explores what might be called “dark borders.” From below ground borders via, for instance, caves into which he takes his readers (claustrophobic readers beware!) to the discovery of dark matter in the universe and how physicists “map” what can’t be seen. But the best part is his revealing the significance of these dark realms to the human experience...and, in the case of “dark matter,” to existence itself.

From Mark's list on boundaries.

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