When I am not travelling I love to read books about destinations, novels set in places far and wide and stories that inspire my wanderlust.
Here are eight books that will make you want to travel.
Slow road to Tehran - Rebecca Lowe
In 2015, as the Syrian War raged and the refugee crisis reached its peak, Rebecca Lowe set off on her bicycle across the Middle East. Driven by a desire to learn more about this troubled region and its relationship with the West, Lowe's 11,000-kilometre journey took her through Europe to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, the Gulf and finally to Iran.
It was an odyssey through landscapes and history that captured her heart, but also a deeply challenging cycle across mountains, deserts and repressive police states that nearly defeated her. Plagued by punctures and battling temperatures ranging from -6 to 48C, Lowe was rescued frequently by farmers and refugees, villagers and urbanites alike, and relied almost entirely on the kindness and hospitality of locals to complete this living portrait of the modern Middle East.
This is her evocative, deeply researched and often very funny account of her travels - and the people, politics and culture she encountered.
Adventure Coordinators review: an enjoyable read with the author meeting plenty of local people. The book made me want to visit Sudan and revisit Oman. 7.5 out of 10.
Landlines - Raynor Winn
Raynor Winn knows that her husband Moth's health is declining, getting worse by the day. She knows of only one cure. It worked once before. But will he - can he? - set out with her on another healing walk?
The Cape Wrath Trail is over two hundred miles of gruelling terrain through Scotland's remotest mountains and lochs. But the lure of the wilderness and the beguiling beauty of the awaiting glens draw them northwards. Being one with nature saved them in their darkest hour and their hope is that it can work its magic again.
They embark on an incredible thousand-mile journey from Scotland back to the familiar shores of the South West Coast Path. From Northumberland to the Yorkshire moors, Wales to the South West, Raynor and Moth map with each step the landscape of an island nation facing an uncertain path ahead.
In Landlines, she records in luminous prose the strangers and friends, wilderness and wildlife they encounter on the way - it's a journey that begins in fear but can only end in hope.
Adventure Coordinators review: this book, part 3 in a series, is an enjoyable read. After the disappointment of her second book (The Wild Silence) I am glad I picked it up. 7.5 out of 10.
House of stone - Anthony Shadid
In the summer of 2006, racing through Lebanon to report on the Israeli invasion, Anthony Shadid found himself in his family’s ancestral hometown of Marjayoun. There, he discovered his great-grandfather’s once magnificent estate in near ruins, devastated by war. One year later, Shadid returned to Marjayoun, not to chronicle the violence, but to rebuild in its wake.
So begins the story of a battle-scarred home and a journalist’s wounded spirit, and of how reconstructing the one came to fortify the other. In this bittersweet and resonant memoir, Shadid creates a mosaic of past and present, tracing the house’s renewal alongside the history of his family’s flight from Lebanon and resettlement in America around the turn of the twentieth century. In the process, he memorializes a lost world and provides profound insights into a shifting Middle East.
Adventure Coordinators review: a good read. I enjoyed how Shadid wove his ancestors' journey from Lebanon to the US into his own memoir, along with the wider history and political background of the region. 8.5 out of 10
Robert MacFarlane - Underland
In Underland, Robert Macfarlane takes us on a journey into the worlds beneath our feet. From the ice-blue depths of Greenland's glaciers, to the underground networks by which trees communicate, from Bronze Age burial chambers to the rock art of remote Arctic sea-caves, this is a deep-time voyage into the planet's past and future.
Global in its geography, gripping in its voice and haunting in its implications, Underland is a work of huge range and power, and a remarkable new chapter in Macfarlane's long-term exploration of landscape and the human heart.
Adventure Coordinators review: a good read about travels to some unusual places. I appreciated the impact his experiences had on the author. 8 out of 10
The hills of Tuscany - Ferenc Mate
This hilarious, international bestseller is a true-life adventure of a New York City couple moving to Tuscany.
Ferenc Máté’s enthusiastic prose is infectious. He brings to life the real Tuscany: the contadini neighbors, country life—the harvest, grape, and olive picking, wine making, mushroom hunting, woodcutting—the holidays, and of course the never-ending, mouthwatering meals.
Adventure Coordinators review: a good collection of vignettes, introducing many great characters and told with a sense of humor and awe. 8 out of 10
Finding Hildasay - Christian Lewis
Ex-paratrooper Christian Lewis had hit rock bottom, suffering with depression so severe he would shut himself in his bedroom for weeks. Then while surfing Chris made an impulsive decision. He set himself a challenge: to walk the entire coastline of the UK. He gave himself a few days to rustle up a tent and walking boots, then left for good with just a tenner in his pocket and two days’ worth of food. Little did he know at the time just how long it would take to cross the finish line – and the encounters lying ahead would turn his life around.
Almost six years later, Chris has navigated the West Coast, Northern Ireland, the hard-rock cliffs of Scotland and the perimeters of the Scottish Islands. He spent three months on an uninhabited island called Hildasay, with beloved dog Jet. It was there, the most barren his route had become, that he found within himself the pride and respect he needed – and his journey became all the more remarkable. Happiness and hope was just around the corner.
Adventure Coordinators review: not the most literary account, this is nevertheless a captivating read about a man working his way from the depth of depression to a positive outlook through the challenges of hiking the UK coastline. 7.5 out of 10