Closer to the edge
by Leo Houlding, Cup £20
The trailblazing British climber’s first book suffers from an attempt to cram in too many episodes of an absurdly eventful life, but it’s a compelling read. Rather than delve into philosophical implications of the sport like many mountaineering memoirs, Leo Houlding’s is a candid insight into the tight-knit climbing scenes in the UK and Yosemite, and into the risks and rewards of a perilous career.
Tourists: How the British went abroad to find themselves
by Lucy Lethbridge, Bloomsbury £20
With the end of the Napoleonic Wars, Europe was once again open to British travellers, paving the way for tourism’s transition from an aristocratic activity to something for the burgeoning middle class. And almost immediately the hapless tourist was mocked: “Peace hath confused John Bull,” wrote Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1818, “with leaky wallet and open mouth.” Lucy Lethbridge’s fascinating account traces the development of modern tourism from the 19th century to the 1970s.
The Po: An elegy for Italy’s longest river
by Tobias Jones, Head of Zeus £25
Stretching across Italy, the 400-mile Po rises in the Alps close to the French border, then flows east to empty into the Adriatic Sea near Venice. Traveling its entire length – by foot, boat, canoe, bicycle and more – Tobias Jones profiles not just a river but a country, from ancient history to contemporary environmental challenges.
Tell us what you think
What are your favorites from this list – and which books did we miss? Tell us in the comments below
High: A journey through the Himalayas through Pakistan, India, Bhutan, Nepal and China
by Erika Fatland, MacLehose press £30
The sequel to the critically acclaimed Sovietistan (2019) and The border (2020) sees Norwegian anthropologist Erika Fatland take a year-long journey down the length of the Himalayas, through Pakistan, India, Bhutan, Nepal and China. Rather than climbing the imposing peaks, Fatland’s main activity is interviewing people, especially women, and her portrayal of the region feels refreshing and compelling as a result.
The Alps 1900: A portrait in color
by Sabine Arqué and Agnès Couzy, Bags £150
This collection of photos and postcards from the “golden age” of Alpine tourism might just be the ultimate coffee table book for your mountain chalet. Just make sure it is a strong table: with 600 pages in an extra-large format, the book weighs only 6.4 kg.
Books of the Year 2022
Throughout the week, FT writers and critics share their favorites. Some highlights are:
Monday: Business by Andrew Hill
Tuesday: Environment by Pilita Clark
Wednesday: Economics by Martin Wolf
Thursday: Fiction by Laura Battle
Friday: Politics by Gideon Rachman
Saturday: Critics’ choice
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