Travel Book Reviews: 2022

Quito Ecuador Nov 2022 – my Ecuador travel guide on the table of this hotel roof top!

Post written by Laura

These are the travel books I’ve read throughout 2022. Of 13 books read (excluding the Ecuador travel guide and the book I’m currently reading) I gave up on 3 of them and struggled through a couple of the others which I haven’t done too much in previous years. Maybe I’m losing my attention span or I’m reading the wrong books?

Despite these little wobbles I consider the small cost of a book is a big investment in my travel knowledge and inspiration for new trips and places to visit. Each and every trip I make builds memories, enriches my life and simply makes it more interesting.

Praça do Comércio (Commercial Square), Lisbon, Portugal – Dec 2007

Book read: Big Mile Cycling by Sean Conway

Unsupported ultra cyclist Sean cycles from Portugal to Russia in an attempt to break a world record by cycling 4000 miles across Europe. This is the story of the highs and lows experienced by Sean in this epic journey.

This was the second book by Sean that I have read and after reading his brilliant ‘Cycling the Earth’ book I was keen to read this one. I didn’t quite enjoy this book as much although Sean retains his engaging and easy to read writing style.

Karnak Temple, Egypt – July 2005

Book read: Going the Wrong Way: A Coming of Age Story Like No Other by Chris Donald

A brilliant book! This is set 40 years ago following the adventures of Chris, who at the time was around 20 years old. Having grown up in turbulent 1970’s Belfast during the ‘Troubles‘ he decided set off on his motorbike towards Australia with no insurance, hardly any money and no real idea of what lay ahead! His crazy journey takes him across Europe and down through Turkey, Syria, Jordan and into Egypt where he travels the length of Africa. Back then, Africa was a hostile and volatile place with mostly dirt tracks for roads.

Chris’s adventures then took him to Los Angeles, up to Canada, back through the US, down through Mexico and Central America, on a plane to Colombia and finally to Rio. So he never actually made it to Australia on this amazing journey and he ended up quite ill by the time he eventually arrived home. But what an inspiring story! Right at the end he says “I still dream and will always strive to achieve them. For when you stop dreaming, the journey is over… And you may as well be dead.”

Jerusalem, Jan 2020

Book read: The Art of Slow Travel: See the World and Savor the Journey on a Budget by Bhavana Gesota

This is a helpful reference book with loads of handy tips, but I found myself skipping through quickly and didn’t read it properly. I do however admire the authors lifestyle of having lived in 9 countries in the last 25 years… an exciting and interesting way of really absorbing and appreciating different countries and cultures rather than quickly skimming through having just an overview.

Zagreb, Croatia, Jul 2008

Book read: Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle by Dervla Murphy

The story itself is incredible… Dervla cycled from Ireland to India as a young solo female in 1962!!! Things were very different back then and her favourite country was Afghanistan where she experienced kindness and hospitality from the locals.

It took me a few weeks to read as I found it heavy going and I read about 2 pages each day. It was interesting but not as gripping as many cycling books that you can’t put down.

This quote from her book stood out: “Epictetus: For it is not death or hardship that is a fearful thing, but the fear of death and hardship” so make the most of your life, try new things, visit new places and live it to the full.

Dervla cycled through Ljubljana, Zagreb, Belgrade as she made her way towards India.

Tower Bridge, London, Jul 2016

Book read: Dare to Do: Taking on the Planet by Bike and Boat by Sarah Outen

This has many excellent reviews however I barely got through the first couple of chapters of this book… I’m not sure why as Sarah is a great adventurer and this is the story of her attempt to circumnavigate the planet under her own steam, usually my favourite kind of book. However I found the book hard going and never really got into it. Maybe I’ll pick it up and try again in 2023…

Chobe National Park, Botswana – Aug 2017

Book read: Chasing Lions: One woman’s 55,000 mile journey in search of her inner lion by Amanda

One of my favourite books of the year! I thought this was a brilliant read as I found myself identifying with Amanda on so many levels. After struggling through the three books above I had begun to think I had lost my enthusiasm for reading but thankfully this was restored by this book.

Kedumim Square, Old Jaffa, Tel Aviv, Israel – Jan 2020

Book read: Three Stripes South: The 1000 km thru-hike that inspired the Love Her Wild women’s adventure community by Bex Band

Another inspiring book which I read partly while doing our 100 mile Road to Rome trek. This book really demonstrated that you don’t need any special expertise to set off on an amazing adventure. Bex had no trekking experience when she began and shows what can be achieved if you are really determined. And it was fascinating to read how Bex and her husband Gil walked the length of Israel, somewhere that doesn’t automatically pop to mind when you think of thru-hiking.

Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dec 2016

Book read: Jupiter’s Travels by Ted Simon

This documents the incredible round-the-world journey taken by Ted on his motorcycle which he did between 1973-1977. Ted began his journey by setting off towards Tunisia then across to Cairo, down to Cape Town via Nairobi then across to South America. He got into all kinds of mishaps and back then with no technology and often no paved roads he had to sort things for himself as he went.

This book took me about 3 months to read! It was hard work but Ted has a unique yet enjoyable style of writing which kept me going.

Sutri, Italy May 2022

Book read: Return to Glow: A Pilgrimage of Transformation in Italy by Chandi Wyant

I was keen to read this, the story of a woman walking the Via Francigena, as we had done in May this year. I came across the book after we had completed our 100 mile section as we walked into Rome…

The photo above is of Sutri which was one of our favourite Via Francigena towns. Not only did we stay the best accommodation, we also had the best meal of the trip and this followed one of our best walking days as we walked from Vetralla.

An easy read and while I skipped through small sections, the odd paragraph mainly, I read the whole book in about a week.

The author is passionate about Italy… I’m starting to think that Italy is one of my favourite countries too…

Arosa, Switzerland, Feb 2018

Book read: The Sat Nav Diaries by Adrian Sturrock

This author managed to produce an entire book from a two week road trip holiday where he and his wife drove to through France, into Switzerland, into the South of France and then across to Italy. For him to do this he describes tedious day to day chats with his wife about nothing of any significance. I skipped through hoping to find something inspiring or enlightening but overall this was disappointing.

It picked up towards the end and I did however get some ideas for a future European road trip route e.g. the Great Dolomite Road which I had not previously heard of.

Darling Harbour, Sydney, Feb 2016

Book read: The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

This was recommended by a friend and was the only non-travel specific book I read all year. I’ve included it however as the book is a thought provoking fictional story which makes you think about the impact of different decisions you make throughout your life. For example, if you look back and have regrets would a different choice have necessarily been a better one?

The photo I selected above was taken in Sydney in 2016 where part of the book was set. What impact did Chris and my decision to take a year out of work have on our lives? How would our lives be different now had we not done that?

Brecon Beacons, Wales Jun 2021

Book read: Bedtime Adventure Stories for Grown Ups by Anna McNuff

Another excellent McNuff book! This was the fourth one I had read following The Pants of Perspective, 50 Shades of the USA and Lama Drama all of which I read in 2021. This time Anna produced a series of accounts from some of her shorter adventures, all written with humour and energy similar to the other books.

For example Anna spent one weekend in bike packing in the Brecon Beacons in Wales. Things didn’t quite go to plan and this was quite a theme throughout the book with a reminder that the unexpected is part of the adventure!

Iona, Inner Hebrides, Scotland May 2017

Book read: Landlines by Raynor Winn

Having enjoyed ‘The Salt Path’ where the author and her terminally ill husband walked the South West Coast Path which I thought was brilliant, then her inspiring second book ‘The Wild Silence’ documenting their trek in Iceland I was eagerly looking forward to the third book.

This time their route was the Cape Wrath Trail across Scotland. I treated myself and brought this as a physical hardcover book and started reading on the plane to Ecuador. Raynor has a wonderful writing style but during my entire 2 week trip I persevered through the first two chapters only. With Raynor describing every cup of tea and every feeling of doubt that crept into her mind, for me it just took far too long to get going and I didn’t feel the motivation to pick it up again once I returned home.

Lake Wanaka, New Zealand Feb 2016

Book read: Bewildered by Laura Waters

Instead I downloaded and started reading this book which I haven’t finished but really enjoying it so far. This is an account of her experiences of walking the Te Araroa trail which runs the length of both islands of New Zealand. I learned about this when Anna McNuff ran the same trail but in the opposite direction.

The author has an engaging style which makes you want to keep reading and I’m making good progress with this book.

Lake Cuicocha, Ecuador Nov 2022

Book read: Ecuador & The Galapagos by Bethany Pitts (published by Moon Books)

This was the book I took with me to Ecuador and The Galapagos islands. I had considered Lonely Planet and the Rough Guide but I’m pleased with this choice as it was easy to read yet had plenty of detail about the places I visited. I chose it because there was less detail about the logistics that you would find in LP or RG but as I was participating in a guided tour and all of this was done for me, this wasn’t necessary.

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