Travel: Tasty trail mix, packed with exotic titbits
Books Of The Year
Kate Simon is the Travel Correspondent of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday. She was Travel Editor of The Independent on Sunday from 2005 to 2011. Kate is also the co-founder of Little Black Book Creative (www.lbbcreative.co.uk), which offers editorial services, media relations consultancy and travel-writing training.
Sunday 11 December 2011
Laugh? I nearly did. The libertarian P J O'Rourke is an acquired taste and to this socialist he was, perhaps, fated not to appeal.
But there will be many takers for the acerbic wit in his latest book, Holidays in Heck (Grove Press, £16.99). The sequel to his memoirs as a war correspondent, Holidays in Hell, it is a collection of stories from the ski slopes of Ohio to the pastures of Kyrgyzstan about the far more harrowing perils of the family vacation.
AA Gill Is Further Away (Orion, £20) is a study in the art of observation. Gill's ability to focus on a scene, describe it, deconstruct it and extrapolate from it is used to great comic effect in this selection of essays from his travels. A moment in Stockholm's Grand Hotel, the hangout of Nobel prize-winners, is a typical gem: "The lobby has a special Nobel desk, manned by ever-helpful young blondes. I imagine it's there to arrange courtesy cars and woolly hats, but I also like to imagine they help worried laureates with intractable computations and missing theorems."
Paul Theroux is both writer and narrator in his latest book, The Tao of Travel (Hamish Hamilton, £16.99), in which he gathers together some of the words that inspired him to spend the past 50 years wandering the world. This book of "Enlightenments from Lives on the Road" records in great detail the pleasure and pain of travel, according to esteemed voices from Samuel Johnson to Evelyn Waugh. It's a curious collection that will frustrate or delight – one for the dipping reader.
Colin Thubron provides a more fulfilling read with To a Mountain in Tibet (Chatto & Windus, £16.99), an account of a very personal, secular pilgrimage he made to the holy mountain of Kailas after the death of his mother. Thubron's poetic language opens our eyes not only to the elemental beauty of the physical environment through which he travels, but the harsh lives of the people who live within it, unveiling a deeply spiritual place that cannot escape the grim, worldly reality of poverty.
The Natural Navigator by Tristan Gooley (Ebury, £9.99) is a celebration of man's relationship with the great outdoors. Gooley, a fellow of the Royal Navigation and Royal Geographic societies, could have turned out a dry bit of Boy's Own indulgence here. Instead, he's crafted an eminently readable book that can't fail to intrigue the most unscientific mind with its simply expressed practical guide to how to literally follow your nose – indeed, all your senses – to find your way around the world.
The nostalgic design and tone of Britain Goes Camping by Don Philpott (National Trust, £16.99) may be reminiscent of Baden-Powell's dubious classic Scouting for Boys, but the choice of subject taps into the current trend for getting under canvas. Everything you need to know, from the first strike of mallet on peg, is in this exhaustive guide: choosing a tent, one-pot campfire cooking, backwoodsmanship. And there's a handy directory of campsites on National Trust land, too.
The Khyber Pass, the Trans-Siberian Railway, the Silk Road ... Great Journeys (Lonely Planet, £29.99) is this year's ultimate picture book. This coffee-table selection of 78 famous and lesser-known trails across the globe indulges the reader with just the right balance of glorious images and insightful commentary.
Kate Simon is Travel Editor of The Independent on Sunday
MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word
Review: One Direction, Fourmusic
Review: The World of Ice and Firebooks
Film More romcom than S&M
Review: The Imitation Gamefilm
Comedy...to show her mastectomy scars
TVNetflix gets cryptic
TV review A moving film showing kids too busy to enjoy their youth
Books Not even a Man Booker prize could save Richard Flanagan from a nomination
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 'Not suppost to cry': 9-year-old lists the worst things about being a boy
- 2 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 3 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 4 Lana Del Rey rape video: Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking leaked footage
- 5 Kenya bus attack: Al-Shabaab militants kill 28 non-Muslims who failed to recite Koran
Lee Evans announces his retirement from comedy on The Jonathan Ross Show
Iggy Azalea responds to Eminem rape lyrics: 'I'm bored of old men threatening young women'
Beyoncé '7/11' music video: Star bounces on bed in low-fi homage to viral video
Angelina Jolie confirms retirement from acting: 'I've never been comfortable on-screen'
Lana Del Rey rape video: Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking leaked footage
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services
Myleene Klass: Ed Miliband 'strikes back' by comparing UK's need for Labour's mansion tax to Hear'Say track