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Can we know what it feels like to be a toad? Or a lizard? Join Richard Kerridge on the hunt for Britain’s reptiles and amphibians and realise the potential of puddles and ditches everywhere

As a boy, Richard Kerridge loved to encounter wild creatures and catch them for his back-garden zoo. In a country without many large animals, newts caught his attention first of all, as the nearest he could get to the African wildlife he watched on television. There were Smooth Newts, mottled like the fighter planes in the comics he read, and the longed-for Great Crested Newt, with its huge golden eye.

The gardens of Richard and his reptile-crazed friends filled up with old bath tubs containing lizards, toads, Marsh Frogs, newts, Grass Snakes and, once, an Adder. Besides capturing them, he wanted to understand them. What might it be like to be cold blooded, to sleep through the winter, to shed your skin and taste wafting chemicals on your tongue? Richard has continued to ask these questions during a lifetime of fascinated study.

Part natural-history guide to these animals, part passionate nature writing, and part personal story, Cold Blood is an original and perceptive memoir about our relationship with nature. Through close observation, it shows how even the suburbs can seem wild when we get close to these thrilling, weird and uncanny animals.

Reviews

Cold Blood shows us how much is to be gained from studying nature. A book that persuades anyone to try sampling life at first-hand rather than at second is much to be welcomed’

Steve Jones, Sunday Telegraph

In prose as effortless as a snake's progress, Richard Kerridge has written a wry, wise and refreshingly understated memoir

Patrick Barkham, Guardian

Cold Blood casts an unexpected but beautiful love-light across ordinary England, and its uncaring reptiles and amphibians

Tim Dee, Observer

Subtle and meditative, lyrical and passionate

Gavin Francis

Simply wonderful…the natural history book I have been waiting for

Brett Westwood

A mix of memoir, science writing and humn to nature, this will propel Kerridge into the pantheon of great 21st-century nature writers. He tells the story of his fascination with reptiles and explains what it is to be cold blooded.

Patrick Neale, The Bookseller

[A] perceptive memoir...Cold Blood is proof that an early infatuation with the natural world can lead to a lifetime of wonder

Barbara Kiser, nature

Perceptive and original... Kerridge writes vividly of the natural world

Gerard Henderson, Daily Express

As a memoir, Cold Blood has the feel of a minor classic. It is exquisite. As a piece of nature writing, it is also rich, subtle and shot through with quiet passion

James McConnachie, Sunday Times

[A] perceptive memoir... Cold Blood is proof that an early infatuation with the natural world can lead to a lifetime of wonder

Pete Dommett, BBC Wildlife

Perceptive and original...Kerridge writes vividly of the natural world (5 stars)

Tom Fort, Literary Review

Captured moments such as the golden flash of a palmate newt delight the reader as much as they did Kerridge’s childhood self

Barbara Kiser, Nature

You don't have to know or care much about amphibians to enjoy this book, although it might well kindle such an interest – for amphibians read: whatever was your childhood passion

Peter Forbes, Independent

Engaging blench of natural history handbook and memoir

Mark Whitley, Countryman

The quality of the writing is superb – evocative, moving, informative

Magnet

Everyone is seasoning serious non-fiction with autobiographical fragments these days, but it’s rare to find both elements handled equally well

James McConnachie, Spectator

This is a funny, moving and compulsively readable account of the author’s boyhood obsession with these often neglected creatures

Stephen Moss, Guardian

As natural history it’s unerringly engaging…; as the story of a tragically damaged father-son relationship it is unforgettable

Melissa Harrison, The Times

A triumph

Helen Macdonald, Irish Times

Part natural history, part coming-of-age memoir, this is a delightful book

Mail on Sunday

As a memoir, Cold Blood has the feel of a minor classic. It is exquisite. As a piece of nature writing, it is also rich, subtle and shot through with quiet passion. It is also a book smoky with regret’

James McConnachie, Sunday Times

This potent book constantly switches focus from reptiles and amphibians to the author’s relationships with friends and family. It’s a tricky act to pull off but Kerridge deftly braids the two strands

Christopher Hirst, Independent

This potent book constantly switches focus from reptiles and amphibians to the author’s relationships with friends and family. It’s a tricky act to pull off but Kerridge deftly braids the two strands

Christopher Hirst, Independent

An intelligent, interesting and well-written book which anyone with an interest in nature will enjoy, even people who live on an island with an extremely impoverished reptile and amphibian fauna

Dick Warner, Irish Examiner

This is a lively account of a life spent observing the world of nonhuman reptiles and amphibians

Eileen Battersby, Irish Times

This is a fine memoir of natural discover combined with a boy’s coming-of-age that is funny, touching and poignant in equal parts

Good Book Guide

[A] perceptive memoir...Cold Blood is proof that an early infatuation with the natural world can lead to a lifetime of wonder

Tim Dee, Observer

Captured moments such as the golden flash of a palmate newt delight the reader as much as they did Kerridge's childhood self

Tim Dee, Observer

After reading this book, I know that I shall never again pass a pond or through a stretch of sun-drenched heathland without looking for the creatures that haunt Kerridge's imagination

Gerard Henderson, Daily Express

Cold Blood casts an unexpected but beautiful love-light across ordinary England, and its uncaring reptiles and amphibians

Gerard Henderson, Daily Express

Perceptive and original...Kerridge writes vividly of the natural world (5 stars)

Patrick Barkham, Guardian

In prose as effortless as a snake's progress, Richard Kerridge has written a wry, wise and refreshingly understated memoir

Patrick Barkham, Guardian

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9780099581390

    May 15, 2015

    Vintage

    304 pages

    RRP $24.99

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  • EBook

    9781448155682

    May 8, 2014

    Vintage Digital

    304 pages

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