Wednesday 25 May 2022

Burn By Ben Short - Book Review

 I follow a lot of people that make their income through traditional skills on Instagram. The other day an account I follow shared that the book of charcoal burner was coming out. It's not often I'll pre-order a book but I decided to do it while I was thinking about it. 

The book follows Ben's journey from high paid ad man in London to a charcoal burner living in a hooped trailer in Devon. It talks about his struggles with depression and how he came to learn his trade and spend time in the woods to help deal with this. 

It's full of some great characters Ben has worked with while learning to work in the woods, some of which really reminded me of people I had worked with myself. 

This book is beautifully written. I read it very quickly as I just loved his writing so much, such an easy read. It really transported you there into the woods with him. He paints such a scene with his words and weaves it with a simple story and a bit of folklore effortlessly that it's hard to believe it's his first book. 

My only criticism is it finishes too soon for my liking, I want to know more and where his life takes him next, but maybe I'll have to wait for the next instalment?

Highly recommend. If he writes another I'll buy it straight away. 


  1. Thanks for the recommendation Kev. I am always looking for a good read, especially someone that has made a life change like this.

    I once researched Japanese charcoal making for a project. An endlessly fascinating practice with a great deal more skill and finesse than anyone who buys a bag of commercial charcoal can appreciate.

    1. Like wise I like this type of book. I'm drawn to books by people with fairly ordinary jobs but are passionate about them. If you have any recommendations I'm always looking for my next read (or ten).
      Japanese charcoal making is something I know nothing about, I should imagine they take it to another level. I might have to google that now. I have promised the kids well make some willow charcoal sticks for drawing next time we fire the pizza oven.

    2. Kev, I would recommend The Running Hare: The Secret Life Farmland by John Lewis- Stempel. It is about a man who rents a field in Herefordshire and wants to restore it to where the birds and rabbits return. It is a ramble, in terms of both writing over the course of the year as well as the many other subjects he covers in it (for example, there is a whole section on old farm ploughing words). I actually reviewed it three years ago:

      Here is the link to the Japanese Charcoal making restoration process and and history I read up on:


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