No catches, no fine print just unadulterated book loving, with your favourite books saved to your own digital bookshelf.
New members get entered into our monthly draw to win £100 to spend in your local bookshop Plus lots lots more…Find out more
Feeling the desire to explore closer to home or travel to far flung places? We have a selection of titles to satisfy your wanderlust. Whether you’re planning a great adventure or reading about your favourite parts of the world, have a browse of our Travel selection.
This is a totally unique and breathtaking introduction to what lies beneath us, to the earth below our feet. Let this very special and beautiful book take you by the hand and lead you through the sunlit fields to the place where the underland begins, a place most human thoughts shy from in fear and confusion. This is a sequel to The Old Ways, yet you can begin here without concern, you can trust and join Robert Macfarlane as he explores the underland. I will admit that I am in love with the writing, the words, the vision that allows you to see and feel in darkness. I haven’t ever considered our deep connection to this stunning underworld in the way you are encouraged to here. Robert Macfarlane meets and shares experiences with people who have chosen to explore, to look beyond the obvious. I absolutely adored how much he shares, how accessible Underland is, his words reached out and connected with my thoughts and feelings, altering, reshaping, transforming. While there is plenty to fear for our future, all the time there are humans with this amount of love for our natural world, there is also hope. Underland is one of my picks of the month, and also one of our star books - it is quite simply stunning.
“Forty-six days, thirteen states, 3000 miles”. Documenting the author’s solo coast-to-coast road-trip across America, David Reynolds’s Slow Road to San Francisco is an absolute joy. An entertaining blend of observation and commentary delivered with a luminous lightness of touch. Buckle up for read that’s radiant with the author’s wit, charm and keen eye for people and place - everything you’d want from an on-the-road companion. Beginning on the Atlantic Coast and winding up on San Francisco’s Pacific Coast - “because Europeans landed on the east coast of the landmass that they named America, and moved slowly west until they reached the other side” - the author’s journey across Route 50 documents edifying encounters that reveal as much about America and the world as they do about the individuals themselves. Though Route 50 is known as the loneliest road in America (and it’s one of the few remaining two-lane highways in the country), Reynolds is never short of people to talk to. Through conversations with bartenders, gas station attendants and motel staff, and the assorted personalities he meets in bars, cafés and museums along the route (among them war veterans, judges and friendly bikers), it truly feels like you’re on the road with him. Peeling back layers of Native American history, slave history and contemporary politics (everyone the author meets has something to say about Trump, and often Brexit too), usually with a glass of IPA to hand, this is life-affirming, enlightening stuff. Perhaps what stands out above all else is a generosity of spirit, both on the part of the people who freely share their time, opinions and tables with Reynolds, and on the part of the author himself. Like all the best road-trips, I didn’t want this ride to end.
First published in 2004, Traffic-Free Cycle Trails is an evolving work that covers routes in mainland Great Britain. As more routes become available, readers are encouraged to contribute and the book, inevitably, grows as they do. This is a useful and comprehensive work that covers the vast majority of accessible cycle routes. Inspiring photographs, short routes to enjoy, clear directions – perfect for that quiet Sunday afternoon ride. Read it, you may well be surprised to discover some wonderful treats within a short distance of your home.
For hundreds of years, people have swum for fitness, for pleasure and for their health. Many of us also enjoy getting outdoors, walking and exploring, navigating and sight-seeing, as we appreciate fresh air, blue skies and the call of the countryside. Combining the two, presents us with some problems. How do you do it safely, for example? Or where are the best places to go? If you’re thinking of trying it, Swimming Wild shows you how. Not just through descriptions – although Suzanna Cruickshank’s words do that very nicely – the pictures, the experience of others and the tips this book offers are enough to persuade even those just slightly interested in diving into outdoor waters. The book even tells you how to get there, where to stay and who to book as a guide when you start.
I confess, I’m a fan of circular routes. I enjoy walking but a finish that involves public transport or a conveniently parked second car is not for me. I also like great views, the UK countryside and a decent pub to rest, recuperate and meet both locals and fellow explorers. Add to that mix, an opportunity to visit civil-war battle fields, pick a route to suit available time and to enjoy great maps, detailed descriptions, good photos and variety that includes the Downs and lowland countryside, and you have Deirdre Sutton’s excellent little book. And I don’t describe 'Day Walks' as a ‘little book’ by accident. It is a perfect size to slip in your pocket or rucksack. Easy to carry, easy to refer to, easy to use. A great read. Time to reach for your walking boots and give it a try.
Radiant with an infectious enthusiasm for life, Scottish writer Iain Maloney has created a playful, powerful page-turner in The Only Gaijin in the Village, a brilliant blend of memoir and travel writing at its most edifyingly entertaining. Maloney’s post-uni TEFL work led him to fall in love with Japan and his future wife Minori. After moving to Scotland, the couple chose to return to Japan as a result of “racist and elitist” Tory government immigration rules that made it near impossible for them to live together in the UK. “I have embraced exile. I am home,” he says of living in Japan, first in a city, before he and Minori relocate to a rural environment. Fiercely funny, the author’s voice is akin to being regaled by a witty friend’s pub anecdotes, with observations moving between lyrical eulogies to nature’s beauty and outright hilarity, such as when he describes a wild typhoon as a “blowy bastard”. From deciphering the codes of Japanese rural culture, to navigating trials of the natural world (including snakes, centipedes and behemoth bees), Maloney takes everything in his stride with an exhilarating can-do spirit. “Humans can get used to anything”, he blithely - and sagely - remarks. Maloney comically covers cultural culinary differences when he describes encountering whale bacon and flame-grilled snakes, but true to form counterbalancing comes when he mentions haggis in the same context. There are similarly entertaining accounts of his farming endeavors, from uncovering digging myths the hard way (“Where is this ground made of tofu that’s easier to dig than a Miles Davies solo?”), to his superb description of growing peas that possess “a smell and taste so evocative Proust could have bored the arse off half of France for decades”. Honest, amusing, humble and informative, with prescient political underpinnings (“every immigrant story is also an emigrant story. This is what the Right want us to forget. They want us to believe it’s all about them coming here, not about them leaving there...the term ‘expat’ is encoded racsim”), I can’t praise this highly enough.
Siberia’s story is traditionally one of exiles, penal colonies and unmarked graves. Yet there is another tale to tell. Dotted throughout this remote land are pianos – grand instruments created during the boom years of the nineteenth century, and humble, Soviet-made uprights that found their way into equally modest homes. They tell the story of how, ever since entering Russian culture under the influence of Catherine the Great, piano music has run through the country like blood. How these pianos travelled into this snow-bound wilderness in the first place is testament to noble acts of fortitude by governors, adventurers and exiles. That stately instruments might still exist in such a hostile landscape is remarkable. That they are still capable of making music in far-flung villages is nothing less than a miracle. But this is Siberia, where people can endure the worst of the world — and where music reveals a deep humanity in the last place on earth you would expect to find it.
By turns gripping, meditative and elemental, and always inspirational, this treasure trove of prose, poetry and art lays bare a richness of relationships between female adventurers and the great outdoors. Shunning conventional, simplistic narratives about mankind conquering the highest this, or the deepest that, each adventurer-contributor shares their unique experiences with enlightening, engaging subtlety. In the wise words of one writer, “People go outdoors to push themselves past what they thought they could do…I go outdoors for the struggle, not to beat it.” This eloquent anthology contains over seventy pieces of writing and art, among them an enlightening piece about the motivations of an Antarctic researcher, an intimate account of a mountaineer’s connection with her father through cross-country skiing, and an exquisite evocation of the sensuous life-forces of a Dartmoor brook. It’s a delight to dip into, and the perfect gift for nature-lovers and adventure-seekers.
An eye-opening wander (and sometimes adrenaline ride) down memory lane for a life-long hillwalker and mountaineer. John D. Burns has spent forty years trekking and climbing mountains, he grew up in industrial Merseyside and escaped to the wilds as often as he could. He opens by admitting a mistake that could have cost lives, his raw honesty hits home, this isn’t a playground. In his early years he learns through near catastrophes and calamitous events that he needs proper equipment and to never take the outdoors for granted. He basically learns through his mistakes - TAKE NOTE! As the author grows more experienced he later becomes a part of the rescue team and starts to really become aware of the beauty around him. The majority of this memoir runs in a straight line through time, occasionally though it deviates, and sometimes stories just stop, to carry on at a later point. This memoir is more about the thrills and escapades, than the beauty of where he is and yet that joy is also there. I would recommend reading The Last Hillwalker followed by his fictional Sky Dance, as once you have finished both, you get more of measure of this man. A fascinating read.
A captivating, amusing, yet provocative novel set in the Scottish Highlands. If you have read a book by John D. Burns before, it is likely to have been one or both of his memoirs, The Last Hillwalker and Bothy Tales. The author has spent much of his life walking and climbing in the mountains, here he turns his hand to fiction, and ponders the future of the landscape he so loves. We enter what could be called a battle, between environmental protesters and landowners, with the two main characters seasoned hillwalkers. From winter (much beloved by our author), turning through the seasons back to winter again, we spend time on a fictional island in the Scottish Highlands. Using his knowledge, his passion for our wild places John D. Burns has written an engaging and satisfying read. I actually recommend starting with his memoir The Last Hillwalker, as it really sets the scene, and you can appreciate the experience and love that has gone into Sky Dance.
From iconic favourites like the Grand Canyon to up-and-coming destinations like Tiblisi, this stunning photography collection willl inspire even the most intrepid traveller. Over 150 high-quality images bring the 100 places to life, spanning atmospheric hilltop pagodas, dramatic mountain scenery, and sparkling urban citiscapes. Lively descriptive text accompanies each entry, capturing the destination's spirit and exactly what makes it so special. Organized geographically by region, the book reaches every corner of the world, with each place carefully selected by Rough Guides' experienced team of authors and editors. Features of the Rough Guide to the 100 Best Places on Earth - Uncovers the top places to visit in 2020 - Stylish coffee-table book with more than 150 inspiring photographs - Employs Rough Guides' "tell it like it is" ethos - Organised geographically by region - Carefully curated by Rough Guides' team of expert authors and editors
Rough Guides' bestselling inspirational coffee-table book draws upon the insider knowledge of in-the-know writers to share the 1000 ultimate travel experiences across the globe. Make the Most of your Time on Earth is a handpicked curation of personal recommendations, from retracing Odysseus's footsteps on Mljet and hippo-spotting in the Bijagós Islands, to wild camping on the Arabian Peninsula and defying gravity at China's Hanging Temple. It might even be something as simple as walking among Hockney's landscapes on the Yorkshire Wolds Way, or eating among locals in the perfect setting: the definitive gelato in Rome or a mopane worm in Zimbabwe. Every one is special, and authentic, and - above all - inspiring. This fourth edition has been fully revised, with a brand-new design and a collection of high-quality colour photographs spanning beautiful national parks, captivating wildlife and dramatic landscapes. Entries are divided into regions, so you can dip in and out of the different parts of the world you're interested in, whether that's a remote island in the Philippines, a stunning Swedish archipelago or an off-the-beaten-track pocket of Saskatchewan. Lively and engaging text captures the essence of the experience, while essential "Need to Know" sections at the end of each chapter make it easy for you to plan your trip. Packed full of ideas and take-you-there photography, Make the Most of your Time on Earth is pure escapism for active travellers and armchair fantasists alike.
We all love to travel. We all love escape. Granted, some are more adventurous than others, hankering to cross vast plains of unchartered territory, while the rest of us just want to find a nice hotel somewhere by a crystal blue sea. Whatever your level of wanderlust, there’s something here to inspire, inform and invade your senses. Follow in the footsteps of pioneers, heroes or trusted raconteurs; visit the real settings of favourite works of fiction (See our Reading on Location guide and read great novels set in the place you’re sitting in!); discover off the beaten track getaways; ponder the history of travel itself, laugh at anecdotes of the hapless. In short, by using our Book of the Month recommendations and taking a little stroll around the section, you can discover the world without leaving your fireside chair. Free your mind, they say, and the rest will follow.
“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” T.S. Elliot