Travel writing

Sequins for a Ragged Hem

Sequins for a Ragged Hem

Author: Amryl Johnson Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/02/2022

Sequins for a Ragged Hem narrates Johnson's return tour to Trinidad as a spiritual homecoming made problematic, among other reasons, by the fact that the house where she was born had been demolished. Amryl Johnson came to England from Trinidad when she was eleven. In 1983 she set off for a six month journey in the Caribbean. From the moment she steps off the plane into 'carnival fever', we are caught up in the excitement of her journey: her reunion with her mother, the exhilaration of dancing all night to calypso on the streets of Port-of-Spain . . . But she cannot escape, nor wants to, from the inheritance of colonialism. Her time in the Caribbean is also a journey of the self. The quest for memory is as powerful as the desire to escape. As her trip draws to a close, she describes with courage and eloquence her attempts to reunite the selves that have been separated by different cultures.

Drawn in Colour

Drawn in Colour

Author: Noni Jabavu Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/02/2022

Moving from South Africa to the UK in her youth, Drawn in Colour begins when Noni is summoned back to South Africa as a young woman for the funeral of her brother. After the funeral, she spends time travelling around South Africa and Uganda, reflecting on the complex, layered impacts of colonialism on the communities she meets. This is a thoughtful, insightful memoir from a singular voice - as one of the first African women to pursue a literary career in the UK, Noni Jabavu is a pioneer whose talent shines through in this extraordinary narrative.

Britons Through Negro Spectacles

Britons Through Negro Spectacles

Author: ABC Merriman-Labor Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/02/2022

'We shall therefore confine our walk to Central London where people meet on business during the day, and to West London where they meet for pleasure at night. If you will walk about the first City in the British Empire arm in arm with Merriman-Labor, you are sure to see Britons in merriment and at labour, by night and by day, in West and Central London.' In Britons Through Negro Spectacles Merriman-Labor takes us on a joyous, intoxicating tour of London at the turn of the 20th century. Slyly subverting the colonial gaze usually placed on Africa, he introduces us to the citizens, culture and customs of Britain with a mischievous glint in his eye. This incredible work of social commentary feels a century ahead of its time, and provides unique insights into the intersection between empire, race and community at this important moment in history. Selected by Booker Prize-winning author Bernardine Evaristo, this series rediscovers and celebrates pioneering books depicting black Britain that remap the nation.

A Greek Island Nature Diary

A Greek Island Nature Diary

Author: Jani Tully Chaplin Format: Hardback Release Date: 04/10/2021

Written and illustrated by designer Jani Tully Chaplin, A Greek Island Nature Diary is a joyous journal-format ode to its creator’s love of the islands, as expressed through her detailed watercolours and personal observations of nature and the shifting seasons. Having lived in Corfu, the author’s immersion in - and love for - this alluringly beautiful part of the world is infectious. Through spreads dedicated to different species of plant, flower, tree and animal, she shares her personal encounters with these natural wonders, alongside fascinating information about connected mythology, folklore, medicinal uses, and literature. Take the evocatively-named snake’s head iris, for example. Chaplin blissfully describes encountering these beauties in the undergrowth near her ancient olive trees, before sharing the flower’s connections to Iris, goddess of the rainbow and messenger to the gods. Published in an attractive hardback format, and resplendent with the author’s pencil drawings and watercolours (often vibrant, and always detailed), this will make a splendid gift for friends and family who adore exploring the Greek Islands, and for armchair travellers who’ve yet to discover their delights.

Park Life Around the World in 50 Parks

Park Life Around the World in 50 Parks

Author: Tom Chesshyre Format: Ebook Release Date: 09/09/2021

If the pandemic has taught us one thing, it's that people love parks As horizons shrank, we took stock. At first, a sense of panic set in: nowhere to go, nothing to do... Then we all went to the park, and we realized something: we need greenery - we crave it. Whether we're in Colombia or Korea, America or Australia, urban parks are places where we can find calm amid the chaos. They can also (more often than we may realize) conceal intriguing hidden histories, and can tell us something about modern life in our frenzied world, too. With fondness and humour, travel writer Tom Chesshyre recalls 50 of his favourite urban parks from across the world, in a love letter to the green escapes that bring us joy in our cities.

eBooks of the Month
Life Lessons From the Amazon

Life Lessons From the Amazon

Author: Pip Stewart Format: Paperback Release Date: 09/09/2021

Pip Stewart’s Life Lessons from the Amazon is two books in one. Firstly, it’s a graphic account of an expedition down Guyana’s perilous Essequibo River - a source to sea adventure brimming with danger and beauty in equal measure. Secondly it’s a thoughtful reflection on that journey that provides insights and learnings which might be usefully applied to 'normal life'. As the team makes its way down the river each chapter highlights a different emotion, behaviour or human attribute which is then given the jungle treatment as Pip recounts an occasion from her Amazonian experience where it surfaced. Appreciation, Growth, Conflict, Connection.. and many more such themes enjoy an adventurer's analysis leading to the very last chapter, ambitiously titled Death and Life … in which a flesh-eating parasite nibbles its way into the story. For Pip Stewart, this extraordinary adventure was life-changing and some of the hard-earned wisdom she shares within Life Lessons from the Amazon might just change the lives of others.

Adventureman: Running America

Adventureman: Running America

Author: Jamie McDonald Format: Paperback Release Date: 12/08/2021

In Running America, Jamie McDonald tells the story of his 5,500 mile fundraising dash through no less than 22 US states in an attempt to smash one of the world’s toughest records. Running solo, unsupported, and at times barefoot, Jamie also happens to be dressed as a superhero and pushing a trolley called Caesar. Oh, and then there’s the blistering 50 degree deserts, mountain lions and snakes.. It all sounds a bit much for someone whose mother was once told her son could end up in a wheelchair, because aged seven Jamie was diagnosed with a rare spinal condition called syringomyelia. He also suffered epilepsy and weak immune deficiency. It’s difficult to envision that poorly little boy growing into ‘Adventureman’ and powering his way across America, but there is something both innocent and brave about Jamie’s storytelling that lets you know the kid is still in there and he will never give up. Running America is an incredible journey that will melt hearts.

Coasting

Coasting

Author: Elise Downing Format: Paperback Release Date: 08/07/2021

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.   

The Great North Road

The Great North Road

Author: Steve Silk Format: Paperback Release Date: 08/07/2021

The Great North Road is a brilliantly researched historical journey by bicycle which follows an ancient highway that since 1921, for most of its length, has been known as the A1. Cyclist Steve Silk threads the 493 miles from London to Edinburgh following at a challenging but doable pace in the tracks of Charles G Harper’s 1901 journal of the same name. Steve’s eleven day journey is so rich in history at times he could be a time traveller, slipping in and out of centuries, bumping into legendary and influential characters and (unlike most touring cyclists) spending enough time to soak up the stories along the way. The book is probably more for travellers with an interest in history than it is for cyclists with a passion for endurance, but it does seem to be the case that the further one pedals north on this famous artery, the harder it gets. 

eBooks of the Month
The Greatest Beer Run Ever

The Greatest Beer Run Ever

Author: John Donohue Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/06/2021

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.

eBooks of the Month
Any Porth in a Storm The Long-Distance Walk that Goes South

Any Porth in a Storm The Long-Distance Walk that Goes South

Format: Paperback Release Date: 31/03/2021

‘Any Porth In A Storm’ is an entertaining piece of travel writing that follows Oscar Burton as he walks the South West Coastal Path. The journey covers 1015km and goes from Somerset to Dorset. With wit and deep insight, the author takes us on this gruelling journey filled with ups and downs, opportunities to meet new people and terrible weather conditions. This is a story of endurance. I was captivated by Oscar’s perseverance and needed to read on to see if he reached the end, although I was sad at the moment he lost his companion Zippy. I loved the literary references throughout, and although this book does not inspire me to walk the Path it does inspire me to learn about and see more of the South West Coast. Set against the backdrop of political and economic uncertainty experienced in the UK in modern times with fallouts from Brexit etc. and ending with the lockdowns of 2020, this is an enlightening read that will not only potentially put you off walking the Path in one go, but also give you the space to explore themes of resilience and hope amidst dire circumstances. An enthralling read that I would wholeheartedly recommend.  Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador

Indie Books We Love
The Stubborn Light of Things A Nature Diary

The Stubborn Light of Things A Nature Diary

Author: Melissa Harrison Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/11/2020

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.