Book Review: A Trio of Travel Writing e-books

In the midst of this lockdown I am really enjoying my Kindle, especially searching and finding a few free hidden gems. Amazon only allow authors to publish books for free for a maximum of five days a month. First off though, why do authors publish e-books for free? There are various reasons, to get the book out there, for example if you were raising money for charity and wasn’t too fussed by the meager royalties available, instead wanting a wider audience. Most often people publish e-books for free to raise their profile. Good reviews and ratings pushes a book higher up the complicated Amazon algorithms. Additionally, if people like your book then they are more likely to purchase one of your other books.

Without any further preamble, here is a trio of travel writing e-books. First up is;

Narrow Margins by Marie Browne

Marie and her husband own a business, working hard, but doing not too bad, when the Rover car group falls into receivership. Bad news for the Browne’s as this was one of their largest clients, owing them many thousands of pounds. Left with very little chance of getting any money, they had to close their business and lay off staff, but with mounting debts were forced to sell their house as well. Not being able to afford another house, and not wanting to move in with either of their parents, they went left field and bought an old narrow boat.

I have decided that while ‘necessity’ may be the mother of invention, she also has three other children: Stupidity, Danger and Futility (those three obviously left home early and didn’t go to university).

The book is full of silly quotes like the one above, as Marie, her husband, son and smelly dog fix up the old boat, learn about boating, have a few crashes and all get very emotional. The book reminds me somewhat of The Salt Path by Raynor Winn, with facing adversity head on and not succumbing. The book definitely was a ‘laugh out loud book about life on the waterway’.

Next we have;

Three Men, Five Bikes and Four Hundred Miles by Chris Walker

Reaching 50 after many years of inactivity exercise wise, too many hours at work and followed by some serious illnesses, Chris wanted to raise some money for charity. Opting against the classic Lands End to John O’Groats ride, Chris and two friends aimed to cycle from Dumfries to John O’Groats, but going their own route. I started reading this at Manchester Airport while we waited for our plane to Iceland, and had finished it before we landed. Not the longest of books, but very readable.

The group headed north and island hopped across Arran, an amazing place where I was lucky enough to stay for two weeks on an Atmospheric Science course while doing my PhD. Very tough cycling with constant hills around the coastal road. They also cycled from Fort William to Inverness, a route that me and my lovely wife did in the opposite direction three years ago when we cycled the Highland 500 (read about it here). There is a fairly long section of rough track, which if you’re on a skinny road bike is more than a little problematic. One of the guys in this book definitely struggled here.

They also avoided the busy A7, the main route up the east coast, instead going up through the middle towards Tongue. Both me and my wife can attest that the A7 is a horrible road, even though we were only on it for a few miles. Good little book with regular people instead of full time adventurers.

Talking about full time adventurers, we have;

There Are Other Rivers by Alastair Humphreys

I’ve read many books by Alastair, and they never fail to be interesting. This one is no exception, although it is slightly different. The book is all about a walk that he undertook across India, from coast to coast, but instead of talking about the journey, the book is more about the minutiae, the day to day stuff and the random people. It’s about how he feels each day, how the days unfold and the unending monotony of having to move forward, in the heat and dust. I’m not making the book sound appealing, but Alastair candidly writes about the difficult days, the days where nothing of note happens and the days when he wanted it to end and to be able to go home. I liked it, and it’s a good starting point for books by Mr Humphreys, if you can find it for free.

Three free travel e-books with three small reviews. One cycling, one walking and the other on a boat.

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