What We're Reading

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Neil

Walking Away, by Simon Armitage (Faber 2015)

The follow up to the award-winning Yorkshire poet's 'Walking Home' about his walk on the Pennine Way, this amusing travel narrative relates his walk on the South West Coastal Path starting in Somerset and ending on the Isles of Scilly off Land's End. The walk passes through Devon and Cornwall: Poldark and Rick Stein territory. It's a notoriously challenging walk along the wild and isolated coast, and Armitage again adopts the nature of a troubadour, giving readings in exchange for food and accommodation.

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Neil

Walking the Woods and the Water, by Nick Hunt (Brealey 2014)

The subtitle of this book is 'In Patrick Leigh Fermor's footsteps from the Hook of Holland to the Golden Horn'. It's widely known that one of the Twentieth Century's best writers and most compelling figures made his reputation by writing a trilogy about his walk in the 1930s from Holland, across Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. Patrick Leigh Fermor's books are essential reading, and Nick Hunt recreates the same journey, using Fermor's books as a guide, and comparing how the intervening 80 years have changed Europe.

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Neil

The Way to the Sea, by Caroline Crampton (Granta 2019)

Books and TV series about the Thames River seem to be many and varied recently. This must be one of the very best - it's well researched, well written and the author has a personal connection with the river. Her South African parents sailed to London when the author was young, and she spent her teenage years living on their yacht on the river. She traces the river from its origin in Gloucestershire, through the City and finally to the North Sea. Many of the stories she tells are not widely known.

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Neil

Whiskies Galore, by Ian Buxton (Birlinn 2018)

Whiskies Galore carries the subtitle 'A tour of Scotland's Island Distilleries', and in 12 chapters whisky expert Ian Buxton travels through 9 islands reporting hilariously but authoritatively on their whisky making tradition. It's not a thorough inventory of tasting notes and ratings, rather a personal journey to discover what is different and unique, if anything, about island distilleries. It's beautifully and evocatively descriptive of life and landscape on the isolated islands, and Buxton is a well-informed, iconoclastic and articulate companion.

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Neil

Women, Men & The Whole Damn Thing, by David Leser (A&U 2019)

This controversial but vital book sprang from an article that Australian journalist David Leser wrote for the Sydney Morning Herald. It's an overview of the events that led to the #MeToo movement, and one straight, white male's attempt to understand, listen and learn. He has been accused of mansplaining, and asked to 'shut up and listen', but I do think the book has validity, as it doesn't stem from an all-knowing position, but rather Leser trying to understand why misogyny has become so toxic and what can be done about it.

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Neil

How To Walk A Dog, by Mike White (A&U 2019)

Wellington journalist Mike White is probably best known for his crime reportage in North & South magazine, but he's also known in the capital's dog parks with his SPCA rescue dog Cooper. His new book is an extremely funny and poignant book about the joys of dog ownership. His portrayal of the community of dog-walkers and their dogs in Wellington is terrific, and the book includes brilliant cartoons by Sharon Murdoch. A lovely gift package for the dog-lover in your life.