When I am not travelling, I read books set in destination. Here is another selection of books I read of late.
Playing the Moldovans at tennis - Tony Hawks
It doesn't take much - "£100 is usually sufficient" - to persuade Tony Hawks to take off on notoriously bizarre and hilarious adventures in response to a bet. And so it is, a pointless argument with a friend concludes in a bet - that Tony can't beat all eleven members of the Moldovan soccer team at tennis. And with the loser of the bet agreeing to strip naked on Balham High Road and sing the Moldovan national anthem, this one was just too good to resist.
The ensuing unpredictable and often hilarious adventure sees him being taken in by Moldovan gypsies and narrowly avoid kidnap in Transnistria. It sees him smuggle his way on to the Moldovan National Team coach in Coleraine and witness (almost) divine intervention in the Holy Land.
In this inspiring and exceptionally funny book, Tony Hawks has done it again, proving against all odds that there is no reason in the world why you can't do something a bit stupid and prove all of your doubters wrong. Or at least that was the idea....
Adventure Coordinators review: good for a giggle and probably the only book I know of set in Moldova. 7.5 out of 10
A walk across France - Miles Morland
[A] humorous and effervescent memoir of reflection, revitalization and good wine." -- San Francisco Chronicle
At age forty-five, Miles Morland left his high-paying job at the London office of a Wall Street firm and took a leap -- actually, a hike -- into the unknown. A self-described "middle-aged wreck," Miles set out with his wife, Guislaine, to walk across France, from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic.
Setting for themselves the goal of twenty miles a day, Miles and Guislaine made their way past farmyards and riverbanks, through dusty village squares and ripening vineyards, into ancient walled cities and over sand dunes. And as the hot, dry countryside unfolded slowly before them, the couple looked back with relief -- and wonder -- at the tense, frenzied corporate life they had left behind.
The story of a walk, a marriage, an adventure, and a dream made real, A WALK ACROSS FRANCE marks the debut of an enormously entertaining writer.
Adventure Coordinators review: Enjoyable read with many recognizable moments of my own walks in France. 8 out of 10
Midnight in Chernobyl - Adam Higginbotham
The definitive, dramatic untold story of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster, based on original reporting and new archival research. The disaster not only changed the world’s perception of nuclear power and the science that spawned it, but also our understanding of the planet’s delicate ecology. With the images of the abandoned homes and playgrounds beyond the barbed wire of the 30-kilometer Exclusion Zone, the rusting graveyards of contaminated trucks and helicopters, the farmland lashed with black rain, the event fixed for all time the notion of radiation as an invisible killer.
Chernobyl was also a key event in the destruction of the Soviet Union. For Moscow, it was a political and financial catastrophe as much as an environmental and scientific one. With a total cost of 18 billion rubles—at the time equivalent to $18 billion—Chernobyl bankrupted an already teetering economy and revealed to its population a state built upon a pillar of lies.
The full story of the events that started that night in the control room of Reactor No.4 of the V.I. Lenin Nuclear Power Plant has never been told—until now. Through two decades of reporting, new archival information, and firsthand interviews with witnesses, journalist Adam Higginbotham tells the full dramatic story.
Adventure Coordinators review: a must-read for anyone who plans to visit Chernobyl and a chilling reminder of the power of a totalitarian state. 8 out of 10
Unlikely Destinations, The Lonely Planet Story - Tony and Maureen Wheeler
Founders of the phenomenally successful publishing company Lonely Planet, Tony and Maureen Wheeler have produced travel guides to just about every corner of the globe.
Lonely Planet Publications was born in 1973 when the Wheelers self-published a quirky travel guide, Across Asia on the Cheap. This was quickly followed by what soon became the backpackers' bible, South-Ea