Lone Traveller: One woman two wheels and the world, Anne Mustoe (Swan Hill, pounds 15.99)

The title of this book sounds as if it should be read aloud as a film trailer voice-over, and when you consider the author's vital statistics, her story might indeed be a fitting subject for a blockbuster movie. Anne Mustoe is a lone female traveller in her sixties who has cycled round the globe from East to West. Choosing historical routes as her inspiration, Anne's journey has encompassed the Andes, the Gobi desert and the Pamir and Karakoram mountain ranges.

We are told that, before circumnavigating the world, Anne was "headmistress of a leading girls' school in Suffolk", so I was expecting a narrative style akin to that of that notorious breed - the eccentric Victorian lady traveller. And she does indeed begin each chapter with a literary quote from the likes of Shakespeare, Kipling, Burns. (There is also an amusing picture of "Condor", her trusty bicycle, being lifted off a ferry in Sergipe by a native). However, her style is unassuming, and the story is made up of basic day-to-day observations, "the stuff of our lives". Although practicalities take precedence over history and landscape, it's a compelling read, detailing the experiences of a rather curious traveller.

The Great British Festival Guide (pounds 9.99, Summersdale)

I had no problem with this book being billed "the essential guide to over 500 of Britain's finest festivals", except for possibly the word "essential". If there are over 500 of them, can they all be essential? Do we really need to know about the Isle of Wight's Garlic Festival?

Perhaps we do. On close inspection, I find an evenly spread, countrywide list of events taking place in the next 12 months or so. The crucial section of each entry is "historical background"; this tells us whether the festival has any pedigree, or if it was dreamt up last year by the PR of the local tourist board.

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