Dark times are coming, which means winter is the perfect season to sit down on the sofa with a hot beverage and a good book! Here are six books I have enjoyed a lot in the past months, and which would make good reading for outdoors people while you’re waiting for spring!
Disclosure: I bought some of the books from my own money while others I have received for review. There are Affiliate links in this article which are marked with an ∞ Infinity Sign 😊 You can use these AT NO EXTRA COST TO YOU but I get a small provision from the company. As you know: I’m keepin’ it real and tell you how it is - I maintain full editorial control of the content published on Hiking in Finland. Read the Transparency Disclaimer for more information on blogger transparency and affiliate links.
Public Service Announcement: While I include Affiliate Links in this article, I recommend that you buy these books either directly from the Publishers OR, even better, get them at your favourite local bookshop. Only if those are not an option, use the Amazon Affiliate links.
Big Trails: Great Britain & Ireland
This is my review copy of Vertebrate Publishing’s Big Trails: Great Britain & Ireland book - I contributed a few images for the Causeway Coast Way in Northern Ireland to it! I might be biased thus, but this is an really good book to discover new trails and get really good information on them. The structure on how the trails are presented is very useful for future hikers, and starts off with a nice text presentation of the hike, as well as a map where in the UK or Ireland you can find this trail - and I really like that the trail is shown completely on this map, as that helps you get a feel for it. Beautiful photos make the trail look perfect and show what landscapes you can expect, which is followed by the Essential Information part: Here you get all the important information on how to get there, how long it might take to complete, the Pros & Cons and where to find further information. A more detailed map of the complete trail also helps you plan the hike. There are 25 different Trails in this book, located in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England. The trails are anything from 55 km in length to 300 km or more. If you find this book interesting but would rather stay in mainland Europe, then the sister book Big Trails: Heart of Europe might be better for you.
The Last Hillwalker, Bothy Tales and Sky Dance
I bought these three books, maybe in part because they got so many good reviews, because Alex Roddie was the Editor for them, and also because I wanted something “easy” to read in the evening (I have read a lot of Science Fiction in the last months =). I wasn’t disappointed with these books, and they were really good entertainment. The only bad thing was that I always wanted to go sleep in a tent under a quilt, instead of a warm bed 😆. I first read The Last Hillwalker, then Bothy Tales and then Sky Dance, which is also the recommended order by the author.
The The Last Hillwalker was a very good book, and takes us along on John’s adventures of the past 40 years or hiking, climbing, backpacking and camping. I think for us younger hillwalking and hiking humans it’s fun to read how it was to start hillwalking and climbing 40+ years ago, as it is rather different than nowadays where you go online to find information, help and friends to go out with. The Stories in each chapter are entertaining, make you chuckle or think or both, and it’s tempting to read “just one more chapter” before heading to bed. The Last Hillwalker is a great book, and should give you a few good evenings of reading.
The second book, Bothy Tales, was a collection of short stories about Bothies, the open wilderness huts in the UK. This book was much shorter than the other two, and also the one I enjoyed the least. Maybe it was because it felt that most stories had the same elements: Hike in with a bag of coal to a distant bothy in the darkness, with rain or snow often also included, light a fire, make food, drink a dram. The book definitely had some fun moments - especially as my best friend’s name is also Martin, and we have experienced in the past 12 years similar situations as the protagonists of this book. Overall I felt this was a weaker book, but for a completionist probably still a must-read book.
John’s 3rd book, Sky Dance, is his best work to date. It’s less autobiographical, less short stories, and more a really great novel. I had a hard time each evening putting the book down to go to sleep, as the story is really well written, captivating and also about an issue which is close to my heart. The two main characters, Angus & Rory, are relatable and very likeable, and “do what is right”. With this book it feels John has grown as an author, and it makes me looking forward to his fourth book in April 2021. You can read this book completely on its own, as you don’t need any of the information of the previous two books, but if you have read them some things will make you chuckle as there are smart call-backs to the previous works. Overall a great book that I can highly recommend!
I received this Review copy of The Book of the Alps as my good friend Björn Köcher is one of the authors. This book, which is in German language, is a feast for the eyes. It has 46 chapters, which are sub-divided into seven subject areas: Geography, Flora and Fauna, Climate and Environment, Alpinism, Mountain Sports, Society and Economy and Arts and Culture. Every single page is jam-packed full of interesting information which are in turn depicted in easy-to-understand graphics, and not just some graphics out of Word but carefully crafted graphics which tell you about the different topics and issues. Be it which animal lives where on a mountain, a timeline of alpinism in the Alps or which ski length to pick for which art of skiing. This is a book which I read in the afternoon, between work sessions, with a cup of coffee, and I love to absorb the useful information and the pretty graphics. A fantastic book which I would recommend to anyone who wants to learn more about the Alps in Europe & everything connected to them, as it is beautiful and full-to-the-brim with information for us outdoor enthusiasts.
Finally, Wanderlust Europe. My (digital) friend Alex Roddie wrote this visual tome of long hikes in Europe. Every trail is accompanied by a nice text which makes you curious about the trail in question, again with beautiful images to give you a feeling of what to expect. A map at the end of each Trail shows you where you’ll be hiking and helps with planning, as does the Good to know section which gives basic infos. This is as much a coffee table book which is nice to flip through while you’re relaxing, as it is a book to plan the next dozen long hikes you want to do in Europe. While this book showcases some of the best-known Trails in Europe which are already pretty busy (Kungsleden, The Pennine Way, Tre Cime Circuit, etc.) it also highlights some pretty new trails. If you’re new to the hobby of hiking & backpacking, and don’t know where to go in your next summer holiday, this book will give you plenty to choose from!
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