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
In 2018, Jamie McDonald embarked on his greatest adventure yet: running 5,500 miles (the equivalent of 210 marathons), solo and unsupported, coast to coast across America. An impressive feat for anyone, let alone someone who was told as a poorly child that they might never walk again. Running through 22 states, Jamie battled 50-degree heat in desolate deserts, dodged rattlesnakes and mountain lions, had several near-death encounters and suffered an injury that left him no choice but to run 300 miles barefoot. Oh, and he did it all dressed in his superhero suit as his alter ego, Adventureman, to raise funds for sick children. Though his journey was mentally and physically exhausting, America gave him the surprise of a lifetime, and the heart-warming kindness and generosity he encountered along the way gave him that glimmer of hope he needed to persevere against all odds. And as if that wasn't enough, Jamie then took on one of his most demanding challenges to date - one which would require him to dig deep to find the secret of resilience, as he attempted to smash one of the toughest records on the planet.
In Coasting, Elise Downing sets out to run the entire coastline of Britain - a 5000 mile / 300 day journey of pain, gratitude and discovery. Endearingly honest and unassuming, Elise describes herself as someone completely unsuited to the task - and yet she did it. She judges herself as an adventure imposter - and yet she isn’t. One wonders how on earth she manages to keep going - and yet she does. There must be thousands of women in their early twenties just like Elise - fresh out of a boozy university experience, career-disillusioned and in a toxic relationship - but the last time I looked they weren’t all queuing up in their trainers to set off round the country from Greenwich. There is certainly something extraordinary about Elise Downing, but of course she doesn’t think there is, and that absence of self-belief is what makes the book so engaging and relatable. With lots of support and encouragement from her adventure community, parents who should probably get an award of some kind and the inexhaustible kindness of strangers, she covers much of the distance with friendly co-runners and free access to warm spare rooms. The trip, however, is not without its traumas and tears - lots of tears - so many in fact one worries she might contribute to a rise in sea levels. Coasting is a classic adventure story wherein an individual has erased the challenges of their life through a bigger, all-consuming challenge and by putting themselves somewhere they perhaps shouldn’t be, has discovered much more of who they really are.
For hundreds of years kings, queens, soldiers, rebels, mail coaches and highwaymen used the Great North Road to get from A to B. But in 1921, Britain’s most illustrious highway ceased to exist – on paper at least. The Ministry of Transport decided that roads needed numbers, not names. The A1 was born. A hundred years later, journalist and cyclist Steve Silk sets off on an adventure to follow this iconic 400-mile route, searching for the stories along the most romantic and historic road in the United Kingdom. Steve isn’t your average Middle-Aged Man in Lycra. Firstly, he’s no sportsman, and secondly, he’s much keener on coffee shops and museums than gear ratios and miles per hour. Instead of the familiar service stations and tourist hotspots, Steve takes readers on a tour of the forgotten treasures of this ancient highway. Seen from the slow pace of the saddle rather than a car seat, the towns and countryside of England and Scotland reveal traces of Britain’s remarkable past and glimpses of its future. A tribute to Britain and the endless appeal of the open road, The Great North Road is enriched with history, humour and insight. With lockdown restrictions easing and many people choosing to holiday in the UK this year, this is the perfect gift for armchair explorers, those with a love for the British countryside, homegrown adventure, and local history – as well as avid cyclists.
At once personal, politically-charged, moving and witty, John Chick Donohue’s The Greatest Beer Run Ever is an engaging account of a Vietnam vet’s tracking down of his former comrades-in-arms to bring them a beer from home. Living up to its title, it really does read like the greatest beer run ever, and will have readers interested in the human side of history laughing, crying and thinking in equal measure. Like so many of life’s momentous ideas, a night in a bar prompts ex-Marine and merchant seaman Chick Donohue to hatch his plan to return to Vietnam. But unlike most bar-based ideas, Chick actually goes through with his. Armed with a list of names, a rucksack of beer, and hoping for a sprinkling of Irish luck, he sets off, though he admits that “I still had my doubts that I could pull it off.” This fascinating, enthralling account sees the author having to use his gift of the gab to press on past check-points before tackling multiple dangers and coming face to face with unexpected realities when he reaches Vietnam - realities that bring him to a big realisation: “I began to see that the protesters, however disrespectfully, were at least trying to stop this madness…If there is one thing that I learned as a result of my Vietnam experience it’s that government - all governments for that matter - are not to be trusted. Many politicians lie when it serves their interests.” This is tasty food for thought with universal resonance.
A nature diary by award-winning novelist, nature writer and hit podcaster Melissa Harrison, following her journey from urban south London to the rural Suffolk countryside.
As Tough Women’s subtitle declares, these are “stories of grit, courage and determination”. True tales from twenty-two tough women from around the globe who undertake awe-inspiring adventures across the globe, from canoeing the Canadian wilderness, to hiking Pakistan, to cycling South America. Its editor is the intrepid Jenny Tough, a Canadian mountaineering expert who notes in her introduction that “the outdoor industry is actually fully of women, but when it comes to the highest level of media…the demographic dwindles to one”. Fortunately, this sexist state of affairs could be on the verge of changing - through giving voice to the “badass outdoorswomen” who here tell their extraordinary stories, this book might just change that narrow narrative and inspire new generations of female adventuresses. Each account enthrals like the best kind of travel writing. There are dazzling evocations of, for example, rugged Himalayan mountain-scapes, lush South American jungles, and howling Norwegian glacial valleys. Many of the women’s stories reveal monumental physical and emotional challenges - challenges tackled and overcome with super-human strength and resilience - and all of them underpinned by a joyously life-affirming spirit of curiosity.
Mick Fowler is the master of the small and remote Himalayan expedition. He has been at the forefront of this pioneering approach to alpinism for over thirty years, balancing his family life, a full-time job at the tax office and his annual trips to the greater ranges in order to attempt mountains that may never have been seen before by Westerners, let alone climbed by them. In No Easy Way, his third volume of climbing memoirs following Vertical Pleasure and On Thin Ice, Fowler recounts a series of expeditions to stunning mountains in China, India, Nepal and Tibet. Alongside partners including Paul Ramsden, Dave Turnbull, Andy Cave and Victor Saunders, he attempts striking, technically challenging unclimbed lines on Shiva, Gave Ding and Mugu Chuli – with a number of ascents winning prestigious Piolets d’Or, the Oscars of the mountaineering world. Written with his customary dry wit and understatement, he manages challenges away – the art of securing a permit for Tibet – and at home – his duties as Alpine Club president – all the while pursuing his passion for exploratory mountaineering.