Travel Book Reviews: 2020

Traeth Llyfn, Pembrokeshire Coast, Wales (Oct 2020)

Post written by Laura

A variety of travel books from this year – a year when most foreign travel was done in one’s mind or from their armchair!

Mirror Lakes, New Zealand (Jan 2016)

Book read Wanderlust: A Love Affair with Five Continents by Elisabeth Eaves

‘Wanderlust’ the very strong or irresistible impulse to travel

This was a brilliant book and one of my favourites from the year. Beginning in Vancouver where she grew up, Elisabeth Eaves has such an interesting life entirely revolving around travel. The book documents her adventures in diverse places across the globe, from her student gap year in Cairo (complete with side trip into Yemen) to the jungles of Papua New Guinea and also to her stint in the consulate office in Pakistan.

During this year of intense travel restrictions I had my fix from books such as this… as we were stuck at home during the first lockdown and indeed throughout the rest of the year I was able to ‘switch off’ and indulge in a range of exciting travel books 🙂

Bali rice terraces (Feb 2016)

Book read Departures: A Guide to Letting Go One Adventure at a Time by Anna Hart

Born in Belfast, Anna Hart is a journalist whose features are regularly published in the likes of Conde Naste Traveller and the Daily Telegraph. She writes about her global travels reporting on international events and interviewing famous people.

Another writer with such an interesting life! Anna has a wonderful writing style and really draws you into her adventures both good and not so good. Thought provoking and a fab read!

Tayrona National Park, Colombia (Jan 2019)

Book read Miss-adventures: A Tale of Ignoring Advice While Backpacking Around South America by Amy Baker

This was OK. And good that I could relate to it as Amy visited a number of places in South American that we visited in 2016. However the book goes into real detail at times and to be honest I had to skim through quite a bit of it.

It is the story of a typical backpacker and begins when Amy arrives in Buenos Aires and stays there for a short time, doing typical backpacker stuff. She then travels to Bolivia and has an adventure in the rainforest… again fairly average exploits which she explains in minute (and tedious) detail.

She then visits Peru, Ecuador and ends in the north coast of Colombia. So… it’s relatable and provides an insight to any would-be South American backpackers but unlike the previous two books, there is no real ‘wow’ factor.

Cornish coastline north of Tintagel, England (Apr 2009)

Book read The Salt Path by Raynor Winn

This was absolutely one of my favourite books from this year and is an incredibly inspiring true story. Through no fault of their own and some dodgy dealings with a so-called friend, within one week, the author and her husband Moth are evicted from their home, lost their business and Moth was diagnosed with a terminal illness.

In their mid-50’s and with no home, nowhere to go and nothing else to do they set about walking the 630 miles of Englands ‘South West Coast Path‘. It is heartbreaking as they are trying to live on a tiny budget and are having to eek out their food from week to week, while walking past holidaymakers and the tempting delicious smell of fish and chips wafting in the air.

This is a powerful story of endurance and courage and demonstrates resourcefulness and resilience in desperate circumstances. Raynor Wynn writes in a beautiful and engaging style and I’m looking forward to reading her next book, ‘The Wild Silence’ which was published in September.

Jerusalem, Israel (Jan 2020)

Book read Travel Escapades: Adventures and Upsets Around the World by Luke Edwards

Luke is an officer in the British Army with a passion for adventure… A slightly different and original take on the average travel book, this was an account of the authors escapades with each chapter describing a different experience.

At the time Luke was only 24 yet had travelled to around 80 countries some of which are fairly random and not on the usual tourist trail. This makes it even more interesting to read and to gain inspiration for future trips. For example, with his friend Nick they travel south from Morocco, through Western Sahara, through Mauritania (and its nightmare border crossing) and into Senegal.

Separated into travel chunks this book was really enjoyable and easy to read. Luke describes all aspects of his travels and gives a real insight into things that can go wrong but not in a detailed way… its a ‘high level’ account of each experience which is my kind of book… I’m a ‘big picture’ person and quickly get bored with too much detail…

Peak District, Derbyshire, England (Jul 2017)

Book read Where the Wild Winds Are: Walking Europes Winds from the Pennines to Provence by Nick Hunt

The book sounded interesting as, guided by four different winds, the author sets off to explore, on foot, the invisible pathways of these winds. He started in the Pennines to follow the path of a wind called the Helm and described the issues he faced as he camped in the foggy conditions…

Unfortunately I’ve only read 13% of the book and haven’t managed to pick it up again. The book has some good reviews so I’ll make a point of trying again to read it in 2021…

I’ve never been to India so these are tea plantations in Sri Lanka (Jun 2016)

Book read Never Mind the Bullocks: One Girls 10,000 km Adventure Around India in the World’s Cheapest Car by Vanessa Able

I started to read but this is the second book I didn’t finish this year (although I did manage 25% this time). It was quite interesting to begin with as the author buys her cheap car and sets off from Mumbai to drive around the perimeter of India which sounded really exciting. However it soon became tedious and boring as she described in detail the driving and the roads rather than the places she was visiting. Maybe I’ll pick it up again in 2021, skip on a bit and dip into the book further along?

Parliament Building, Budapest, Hungary (Jul 2004)

Book read Every Inch of the Way: My Bike Ride Around the World by Tom Bruce

A brilliant book which certainly kept me gripped at every inch of the pages! At the age of 24, rather than settling for a standard life and a corporate job, Tom had a burning desire to see the world and so had the courage to set off on his bike to explore!

The result is a fantastic journey of his circumnavigation and a well-written account of the highs and lows he encounters and shares with his readers. Tom’s cycling along the Silk Road and the Pamir Highway is particularly interesting – this is one part of the world I’ve never visited and is high up on my wish list… one day…

Jemaa El-Fna Square, Marrakech (Feb 2008)

Book read The Accidental Adventurer: The true story of my wilderness years by Ben Fogle

I really enjoyed this book from the globetrotting TV presenter Ben Fogle. I had no idea he had taken part in extreme and impressive adventures such as rowing the Atlantic, trekking to the South Pole or running the Sahara Marathon des Sables which is a gruelling 6 day ultra marathon!

The book is an interesting account of his life of travel which is much more than him being a TV presenter of ‘Escape to the Wild’ which was all I had previously associated him with! I would definitely recommend a read…

Misty and mysterious, me on my solo trip to Montenegro in May 2018

Book read Where There’s A Will: Hope, Grief and Endurance in a Cycle Race Across a Continent by Emily Chappell

A brilliant book of determination and endurance as we follow Emily as she races across Europe on her bike, sleeping under hedges and battling through rain and head winds to become the fastest woman to finish in Çanakkale, Turkey and win the women’s section of the Transcontinental Bike Race.

Not only is Emily an exceptional cyclist she is also an engaging and gifted writer. Describing her mental and physical health issues there is much more to this book than racing; it’s one of those hard-to-put-down and deeply motivating books.

Abu Simbel, Egypt (Jul 2005)

Book read Africa Solo: My World Record Race from Cairo to Cape Town by Mark Beaumont

Continuing with the cycling theme this year, this was another amazing and enjoyable book as Mark cycles the length of Africa in under 50 days.

You don’t have to be a keen cyclist to appreciate this book… my passion is more travel than cycling however this is a well-written account of Mark’s achievement together with an insight into the interesting places he visits and the interaction with locals along the way.

Atacama Desert (Nov 2016)

Book read Cycling the Earth: A Life-changing Race Around the World by Sean Conway

A cracking read! Sean is a humble person with amazing tales to tell! He turns to cycling as a depressed 30 year old who was fed up with his job as a children’s photographer and wanted to find more excitement in his life.

Sean brings his adventure to life as we are taken along his journey from his early preparation and practice routes to the race itself. Unfortunately the race didn’t go to plan however Sean’s confidence had grown and his determination carried him through to the end. I’m keen to read more of Sean’s books in 2021 🙂

Riga, Latvia (Jul 2008)

Book reading Just a Little Run Around the World: 5 Years, 3 Packs of Wolves and 53 Pairs of Shoes by Rosie Swale Pope

My final book for 2020 and not quite finished but what an amazing woman! It is hard to comprehend what Rosie Swale-Pope has achieved in her life; as well as running around the world she has sailed around the world, ran across Europe, completed many marathons and raised thousands of pounds for charities.

In memory of her husband Rosie set off to run around the world from Tenby, Wales on her 57th birthday to raise money for a Russian orphanage and also for prostate cancer. Having crossed northern Europe in the winter and into Russia I still can’t quite believe that Rosie ran vast distances in the following Siberian winter in incredibly harsh conditions. Camping in -50 degrees in snowy forests with bears outside and wolves peering inside the tent… incredible.

Rosie is now 74 years old and had started an expedition running to Kathmandu but unfortunately having reached Turkey this is postponed due to the pandemic. Instead she is currently running from Lands End to John O’Groats and if she is successful will be the oldest woman to do so.

I’ve been in awe of several authors of the adventure books I’ve read in the last three years, from Levison Wood and his epic treks to very long distance cyclists such as Alastair Humphries, Emily Chappell, Sean Conway, Mark Beaumont and others but I must say that Rosie’s story is absolutely one of the most phenomenal and inspirational books I’ve ever read.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s