Twenty years ago Bill Bryson went on a trip around Britain to celebrate the green and kindly island that had become his adopted country. The hilarious book that resulted, Notes from a Small Island, was taken to the nation's heart and became the best-selling travel book ever and was voted in a BBC poll the book that best represents Britain. Now, to mark the 20th anniversary of that modern classic, Bryson makes a brand-new journey around Britain to see what has changed.
"I think Bill would rather have stayed at home."
Australia has more things that can kill you than anywhere else. Nevertheless, Bill Bryson journeyed to the country and promptly fell in love with it. The people are cheerful, their cities are clean, the beer is cold, and the sun nearly always shines.
Believing that a good, interesting life is marked by quality, not quantity, John Steinbeck took note of his itchy feet and prepared to travel. He was accompanied by his French poodle, Charley, diplomat and watchdog, across the states of America from Maine to California. Moving through woods and forests, dirt tracks and highways to large cities and wildernesses, Steinbeck observed America and the Americans with a humorous and sometimes sceptical eye.
On October 6, 1973, Ted Simon knew there was no going back. He loaded up his 500cc Triumph Tiger in the pouring rain and said good-bye to London. Over four years he rode 64,000 miles round the world. Breakdowns, revolutions, war, a spell in prison, and a Californian commune were all part of his experience, which was colored variously by utter despair and unimaginable joy. He was treated as a spy, a god, a welcome stranger and a curiosity
Penguin presents the unabridged, downloadable, audiobook edition of The Penguin Lessons by Tom Michell, read by Bill Nighy. 'I was hoping against hope that the penguin would survive because as of that instant he had a name, and with his name came the beginning of a bond which would last a life-time.' Tom Michell is in his roaring 20's: single, free-spirited and seeking adventure.
The third and most ambitious of Michael Palin's adventures is a voyage of epic proportions - the circumnavigation of the Pacific Rim. He travels for almost a year through the 18 countries that border the world's largest ocean, and is forced to negotiate mountains, plunging gorges, cross glaciers and dodge icebergs. Volcanoes also mark Palin's journey. He climbs one which has freshly erupted and follows great rivers like the Yangtze and the Amazon to some of the most remote places on earth.
In The Old Ways, Robert Macfarlane sets off from his Cambridge home to follow the ancient tracks, holloways, drove-roads, and sea paths that form part of a vast network of routes crisscrossing the British landscape and its waters, and connecting them to the continents beyond. The result is an immersive, enthralling exploration of the ghosts and voices that haunt old paths, of the stories our tracks keep and tell, of pilgrimage and ritual, and of song lines and their singers. Above all this is a book about people and place.
"Not easy but worth the effort."
Starting in November 2013 in a forest in Rwanda, where a modest spring spouts a trickle of clear, cold water, Levison Wood set forth on foot, aiming to become the first person to walk the entire length of the Nile. He followed the river for nine months, over 4,000 miles, through six nations - Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, the Republic of Sudan, and Egypt - to the Mediterranean coast.
A liberating motorcycle journey through Africa with descriptions of the amazing people and places, the joy of big skies and the open road, and the sometimes harrowing events that would shape destiny. Into Africa tells the story of a novice motorcyclist who takes on the challenge of riding the length of the continent just because, 'it seemed like a great idea'.
"A real motorcycle adventure"
A landmark in travel writing, this is the incredible true story of Heinrich Harrer's escape across the Himalayas to Tibet, set against the backdrop of the Second World War. Heinrich Harrer, already one of the greatest mountaineers of his time, was climbing in the Himalayas when war broke out in Europe. He was imprisoned by the British in India but succeeded in escaping and fled to Tibet.
"Fantastic a life we never see....."
Sara Wheeler visited Antarctica as a guest of America's National Science Foundation and soon after her arrival fell in love with the frozen landscape and it's harsh beauty. During her seven month stay the author travelled to the various national sectors, visited several national bases and experienced four seasons. The author has a reverence for the early explorer and visits many historic landmarks in her journey across Antartica.
"Fabulous book, deep and hilarious all at the same time"
London is special. For centuries, it has been amongst the greatest cities of the world. But a city is nothing without its people. This sparkling new history of London, told through a relay-race of great Londoners shows in one, personality-packed book that the ingenuity, diversity, creativity and enterprise of London are second to none. Boris Johnson believes that in order to understand London one has to know about its past. The heart and spirit of London lies in its people, in the range of its cultures.
"Thoroughly entertaining - history on a human scale"
Film star Ewan McGregor travels around the world by motorcycle with his best friend, actor Charley Boorman. A unique and fascinating travel/adventure book.
"Very good for a long journey"
When Michael Palin was researching his novel Hemingway's Chair, his interest was stimulated by Hemingway's appetite for travel and "Papa's" evocations of the places he knew. In pursuit of Hemmingway, Palin begins at the beginning, in Oak Park, Idaho, then travels to Italy where Hemingway served in the Ambulance Brigade in the First World War. Then on to Paris in the "Roaring Twenties", bull-running at Pamplona and Hemingway's love affair with Spain.
"Personal journey of an icon"
Building on the success of The Yarn Whisperer, Clara Parkes' rich personal essays invite listeners and devoted crafters on excursions to be savored, from a guide who quickly comes to feel like a trusted confidante. In Knitlandia, she takes listeners along on 17 of her most memorable journeys across the globe over the last 15 years, with stories spanning from the fjords of Iceland to a cozy yarn shop in Paris' 13th arrondissement.
In April 2008, Jon Faine and his son Jack closed the door on their Melbourne home and, leaving jobs, studies, family and friends, took six months and went overland to London in their trusty 4-wheel-drive. This intelligent and funny recount of the countries they visited, people they met, and trouble they got into, is also the story of a tender father-son relationship.
"Rollicking yarn - bettered being read by Jon Faine"
The plan is simple. George and Ben have three weeks to cycle 1000 miles from the bottom of England to the top of Scotland. There's just one small problem - they have no bikes, no clothes, no food, and no money. Setting off in just a pair of Union Jack boxer shorts, they attempt to rely on the generosity of the British public for everything from food to accommodation, clothes to shoes, and bikes to beer.
"Very engrossing and funny"
Inspired by breathtaking views, and dreaming of finding love and romance in the mountains, Tony Hawks impulsively buys a house in the French Pyrenees. Here he imagines he will finally fulfil his childhood fantasy of mastering the piano, untroubled by the problems of the world. However, Tony's account of stumbling into the world of overseas home ownership is perhaps best heard as a useful manual of how not to go about buying a house abroad.
"Truly a true story!"
In a classroom in sultry Guangzhou, having never before left the United States nor taught a class on anything, armed only with a beginner's grasp of the language, Brasunas is confronted by 37 ninth graders in uniform. Only his intrinsic curiosity about Chinese culture and about himself drives him on, to keep trying in the tense classroom, to trust his instincts in the frenetic and dishonest street markets, and to make new friends from all walks of life.
Do you have a dream you must pursue, but everyone says it's unrealistic? Or that you're not qualified? Too old, too out of shape? Or you don't have the "right experience?" Glenn Damato was a 41-year-old software instructor who sought to exceed the bounds of his comfortable but humdrum existence. He embarked on an adventure for which he was miserably unprepared. Why did he do this? How did he answer the ancient human question: how do we jump-start growth in our lives? We become something we were not.
"Just what I needed"
Far from the glittering cities of Beijing and Shaghai, China's borderlands are populated by around one hundred million people who are not Han Chinese. For many of these restive minorities, the old Chinese adage "the mountains are high and the Emperor far away", meaning Beijing's grip on power is tenuous and its influence unwelcome, continues to resonate.
A Buddhist monk takes up arms to resist the Chinese invasion of Tibet - then spends the rest of his life trying to atone for the violence by hand printing the best prayer flags in India. A Jain nun tests her powers of detachment as she watches her best friend ritually starve herself to death. Nine people, nine lives; each one taking a different religious path, each one an unforgettable story. William Dalrymple delves deep into the heart of a nation torn between the relentless onslaught of modernity and the ancient traditions that endure to this day.
Written in the irreverent style that made How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read a critical and commercial success, Pierre Bayard takes listeners on a trip around the world, giving us essential guidance on how to talk about all those fantastic places we've never been. Practical, funny, and thought provoking, How to Talk About Places You've Never Been will delight and inform armchair globetrotters and jet-setters, all while never having to leave the comfort of the living room.
In the summer of 2001, Peter Hessler, the longtime Beijing correspondent for The New Yorker, acquired his Chinese driver's license. For the next seven years, he traveled the country, tracking how the automobile and improved roads were transforming China.
"Ture China!--- in view of a ture Chinese"
This is not a book about trains but about the variety of Spain. The best-selling author Christopher Howse makes 10 great railway journeys that explore the interior of the peninsula, its astonishing landscapes and ancient buildings. The focus is the way the Spanish live now: their habits, streets, characters, stories - and quite a bit about their eating and drinking.
In My Holiday in North Korea: The Funniest/Worst Place on Earth, Wendy shares a glimpse of North Korea as it's never been seen before. Even though it's the scariest place on Earth, somehow Wendy forgot to check her sense of humor at the border. But Wendy's initial amusement and bewilderment soon turned to frustration and growing paranoia.
Recounting the three weeks of blood, sweat, and tearsthat make up a 7,000 mile journey from the glitzy streets of Paris to the hinterland of northwestern Africa, this incredible tale highlights the most arduous and notorious off-road motorsports event on the planet, the Paris-Dakar Rally. Since its inception in 1979, the rally has attracted more than 3,000 participants from all walks of life.
"A brilliant listen for true Dakar fans only!"
"At the first mention of going to Roumania, a great many people, as I did myself, would take down their atlas and open the map. For Roumania, there can be no question, is among the lesser known lands of Europe." So begins Sir Sacheverell Sitwell's account of his Roumanian journey, made in the 1930s, when Bucharest was still eight days overland from London. His four-week trip brings him into contact with longhaired gypsies at country fairs as well as the aristocracy in their medieval castles.
As a kid growing up in Manhattan, William Helmreich played a game with his father they called "Last Stop." They would pick a subway line and ride it to its final destination, and explore the neighborhood there. Decades later, Helmreich teaches university courses about New York, and his love for exploring the city is as strong as ever. Putting his feet to the test, he decided that the only way to truly understand New York was to walk virtually every block of all five boroughs - an astonishing 6,000 miles.
Whether your idea of travel at its finest is trekking through Europe with a backpack, a map and a foreign-language dictionary; road-tripping across America in a fully loaded RV; or cruising the Caribbean aboard a luxury liner, Chicken Soup for the Traveler's Soul celebrates the people you'll meet, the lands you'll discover and the lessons you'll learn. Like traveling itself, the stories in this book will take you on a journey of adventure, insight, and discovery. Through the real-life experiences of others, you'll see that regardless of the destination, it is the journey that provides the fondest memories.
Full of unforgettable figures and an unrelenting spirit of adventure, Strange Stones is a far-ranging, thought-provoking collection of Peter Hessler's best reportage - a dazzling display of the powerful storytelling, shrewd cultural insight, and warm sense of humor that are the trademarks of his work. Over the last decade, as a staff writer for The New Yorker and the author of three books, Peter Hessler has lived in Asia and the United States, writing as both native and knowledgeable outsider in these two very different regions.
Like a well-crafted stage play, Just Passin' Thru delivers one suspenseful scene after another. But in this historic setting a store on the Appalachian Trail called Mountain Crossings the characters who show up are no fictional creations. Like any good drama, there are the good guys (and gals) and the weirdos, too. Some show up once (and that's enough), and some appear again and again. But all are united by two things: the author's story-capturing talent, and whatever it is that lures them to attempt (or conquer) a 2,200-mile path that climbs and plummets from Georgia to Maine.
As one of the world's leading field biologists, George Schaller has spent much of his life traversing wild and isolated places in his quest to understand and conserve threatened species - from mountain gorillas in the Virunga to pandas in the Wolong and snow leopards in the Himalaya. Throughout his celebrated career, Schaller has spent more time in Tibet than in any other part of the world, devoting more than thirty years to the wildlife, culture, and landscapes that captured his heart and continue to compel him.
In the heart of China's Sichuan province, amid the terraced hills of the Yangtze River valley, lies the remote town of Fuling. Like many other small cities in this ever-evolving country, Fuling is heading down a new path of change and growth, which came into remarkably sharp focus when Peter Hessler arrived as a Peace Corps volunteer, marking the first time in more than half a century that the city had an American resident.
"Great insight into rural China"
Mungo Park's Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa has long been regarded as a classic of African travel literature. In fulfilling his mission to find the Niger River and in documenting its potential as an inland waterway for trade, Park was significant in opening Africa to European economic interests. His modest, low-key heroism made it possible for the British public to imagine themselves as a welcomed force in Africa. As a tale of adventure and survival, it has inspired the imaginations of audiences since its first publication in 1799 and writers from Wordsworth and Melville to Conrad.
Most New Yorkers, even famous ones, have cherished rituals and favorite places that connect them to their city in unique ways. They have their beloved restaurants, museums, parks, galleries, landmarks, haunts, and hideaways. It may be watching tango dancers on Saturday nights in Central Park. Or riding a bike over the Brooklyn Bridge for a slice of Grimaldi's pepperoni pizza and a view of the Manhattan skyline from across the East River.
"Essential listening before a fabulous trip to NYC"
Spanning 15 years of travel, beginning when she is a sophomore in college, Wanderlust documents Elisabeth Eaves' insatiable hunger for the rush of the unfamiliar and the experience of encountering new people and cultures. Young and independent, she crisscrosses five continents and chases the exotic, both in culture and in romance.
Proving that sailing is not just the husband's pursuit, this charming narrative of one couple's first long distance voyage is told from the wife's perspective. Writing in a lively, humorous way, Sandra Clayton gives an entertaining account of her and husband David's maiden cruise from the UK, down the Atlantic coast and into the warm waters of the Mediterranean. Conscious that old age or poor health could prevent them from sailing away for much longer, they left the world of work behind to chase their dream of adventure.
"Interesting story, spoilt by narration"
Daniel Gray is about to turn thirty. Like any sane person, his response is to travel to Luton, Crewe, and Hinckley. After a decade's exile in Scotland, he sets out to reacquaint himself with England via what he considers its greatest asset: football. Watching teams from the Championship (or Division Two as any right-minded person calls it) to the South West Peninsula Premier, and aimlessly walking around towns from Carlisle to Newquay, Gray paints a curious landscape forgotten by many.
"Not just a football book!"