Whether you’re re-discovering the value of time to yourself or relishing time spent together, the writers, artists and thinkers on our latest playlist offer uplifting company for solo moments.
As strange summer months turn to reflective autumn days, there’s been more chance than usual to contemplate what it means to be solitary. From walks in the woods alone, to summer days shared on the shoreline – we’ve gathered a collection of words, sounds and ideas that capture the sweetness of solitude, the joy of company, and the rhythms that take us from one to the other.
‘A History of Solitude’ – BBC Radio 4
Desert-dwelling hermits, Robinson Crusoe on his island and the nature-worshipping Romantic poets… This richly researched and philosophical radio documentary series tells tales of solitude that remind us there are many ways of being alone – and that even the most extreme forms of voluntary solitude can be surprisingly social.
‘The Summer Book’ – Tove Jansson
“Within [island] shores, everything functions according to rituals that are as hard as rock from repetition, and at the same time they amble through their days as whimsically and casually as if the world ended at the horizon.”
Telling the story of an island summer in the life of a six-year-old and her grandmother, Tove Jansson’s beautiful, breezy novel is a frank and tranquil tale of companionship.
‘Solitary Daughter’ – Bedouine
‘How I Go to the Woods’ – Mary Oliver
Mary Oliver can always be relied upon to see nature and show it back to us anew, and her poem about being alone in the woods (and the exceptions we make), is no exception.
friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore
or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of
praying, as you no doubt have yours.
on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds,
until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost
unhearable sound of the roses singing.
you very much.”
‘Blue’ – Nijuu and Cecilia Reeve
A calming and dreamlike animated short, to accompany Blue by Korean musician Nijuu, Cecilia Reeve’s hand-drawn imagery finds vastness in a swimming pool, and freedom underwater.
‘How to Walk Across Europe’ – Nick Hunt
In 2011, the writer Nick Hunt began walking across Europe. His ‘audio field guide’ takes you inside his journey – across borders and languages, through days of empty landscape and into bustling towns and the homes of strangers.
Honeyland – Dir. Ljubomir
Hatidze is one of the last inhabitants of a Macedonian mountain village, keeping beekeeping tradition alive, and looking after her mother. This magical documentary follows her through the seasons, as the arrival of a new family threatens to upset an ancient natural balance.
+From Lord Byron to Virginia Woolf, discover more about the literature and culture of solitude in Anita Sethi’s Journal feature, The Company of Solitude.