Books and travel share many similarities. They let us step out of our comfort zone for a space of time, often do not go on long enough and leave us wanting more, and offer something different to each person.
While my team has been busy exploring the world to find you, our clients, brand new destinations and experiences which few travel operators even know exist, they have also been thumbing the pages of some truly magnificent reads. Here you will find our collective picks from over the last few months.
The Moth and the Mountain
In the 1930s, as official government expeditions set their sights on conquering Everest, a little-known World War I veteran named Maurice Wilson conceived his own crazy, beautiful plan: he would fly a Gipsy Moth aeroplane from England to Everest, crash land on its lower slopes, then become the first person to reach its summit – all utterly alone.
Wilson didn’t know how to climb. He barely knew how to fly. But he had pluck, daring and a vision – he wanted to be the first man to stand on top of the world. Traumatised by his wartime experiences and leaving behind a trail of broken hearts, Wilson believed that Everest could redeem him.
Our Travel Recommendation: Walk the Annapurna and Everest Trails
The Lost Pianos of Siberia by Sophy Roberts
From acclaimed journalist Sophy Roberts, a journey through one of the harshest landscapes on earth—where music reveals the deep humanity and the rich history of Siberia. Dotted throughout this remote land are pianos—grand instruments created during the boom years of the nineteenth century, as well as 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 westernizing influence of Catherine the Great, piano music has run through the country like blood.
Owls of the Eastern Ice by Jonathan C. Slaght
Primorye, a remote forested region near to where Russia, China and North Korea meet in a tangle of barbed wire, is the only place where brown bears, tigers and leopards co-exist. It is also home to one of nature’s rarest birds, the Blakiston’s fish owl. A chance encounter with this huge, strange bird was to change wildlife researcher Jonathan Slaght’s life beyond measure. This is the story of Slaght’s quest to safeguard the elusive owl from extinction.
The Salt Path by Raynor Winn
An inspirational memoir that is a life-affirming story of coming to terms with grief and the healing power of the natural world. Ultimately, it is a portrayal of home, and how it can be lost, rebuilt, and rediscovered in the most unexpected ways.
Lands of Lost Borders: A Journey on the Silk Road by Kate Harris
An enthralling travelogue of a journey along the Silk Road by bicycle, Lands of Lost Borders explores the importance of breaking boundaries, whether physical borders or the ones that we place upon ourselves. There are some real nuggets as the author celebrates our connection to the natural world and to each other, and how the latter transcends any barriers that divide us.
Our Travel Recommendation: Along the Silk Route – Kyrgyzstan to China
The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar
A beautifully crafted book about the interlinked lives of two women, an upper-middle-class housewife and her domestic servant. The novel explores the complex relationships between the classes in India. If you enjoyed ‘Kite Runner’ or ‘Cutting for Stone’, you will love ‘The Space Between Us’.
Our Travel Recommendation: Hampi and the Treasures of the Deccan Plateau
The Immeasurable World: Journeys in Desert Places by William Atkins
One-third of the earth’s land surface is desert. Travelling to five continents, visiting deserts both iconic and little-known, William Atkins discovers a realm that is as much internal as physical. In doing so he revives the art of travel writing focusing on the people, history, topography and symbolism of these harsh but captivating environments.
Our Travel Recommendation: Highlights of Oman
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
Beautifully observed, this has to be one of my favourite books that I have read recently. The (fictional) life of a Count – Alexander Rostov – in the Metropol Hotel might not sound gripping or engaging but the wit and charm of the Count are just that.
Our Travel Recommendation: Highlights of Moscow & St. Petersburg
Wilding by Isabella Tree
Personal and inspirational, Wilding is an astonishing account of rewilding in West Sussex. More particularly, the beauty and strength of nature, when it is given freedom.
Arabs: A 3,000 Year History of Peoples, Tribes and Empires by Tim Mackintosh-Smith
A riveting, comprehensive history of the Arab peoples and tribes. This kaleidoscopic book covers almost 3,000 years of Arab history and shines a light on the footloose Arab peoples and tribes who conquered lands and disseminated their language and culture over vast distances.
Our Travel Recommendation: Kingdom of the Nabateans
Himalaya: A Human History by Ed Douglas
Featuring scholars and tyrants, bandits and CIA agents, go-betweens and revolutionaries, Himalaya is a panoramic, character-driven history on the grandest but also the most human scale, by far the most comprehensive yet written, encompassing geology and genetics, botany and art, and bursting with stories of courage and resourcefulness.
Our Travel Recommendation: Journey through the Himalayas
Eyes in the Night by Nomavenda Mathiane
Hopefully, you have all heard Rob Caskie speaking on the Anglo Zulu Wars. This is the other side of the story. Nomavenda Mathiane stumbled upon her grandmother’s story well over a century after the gruelling events of the Battle of Isandlwana; the result is a sweeping epic of both personal and political battles.
Our Travel Recommendation: KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife, Coast and Battlefields
Kings of the Yukon by Adam Weymouth
Weymouth’s searing portraits of these people and landscapes offer an elegiac glimpse of a disappearing world. Kings of the Yukon is a dazzling, empathetic portrait of this river, written from the perspective of one who has kayaked its length.
Our Travel Recommendation: 5 Things to do in the Yukon
The Konyaks: The Last of the Tattooed Headhunters by Phejin Konyak
This is the first time such intensive research and documentation on Konyak tattoo art has been undertaken. It is beautifully photographed and illustrated, making for a fascinating insight into the Konyak people, their society and way of life.