Closer to the Edge
by Leo Houlding, Headline £20
The first book by the pioneering British climber suffers from attempting to cram in too many episodes from an absurdly eventful life but it’s an enthralling read. Rather than straining for philosophical implications of the sport, as do 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 dangerous career.
Tourists: How the British Went Abroad to Find Themselves
by Lucy Lethbridge, Bloomsbury £20
With the end of the Napoleonic wars, Europe was open once more to British travellers, setting the stage set for tourism’s transition from an aristocratic activity to something for the rapidly growing middle classes. And almost immediately the hapless tourist was being mocked: “peace has set John Bull a-gadding” wrote Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1818, “with leaky purse and open mouth”. Lucy Lethbridge’s fascinating account tracks 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
The 400-mile-long Po stretches across Italy, rising in the Alps close to the French border then flowing east to empty into the Adriatic near Venice. Travelling along its length — by foot, boat, canoe, bike 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 favourites from this list — and what books have we missed? Tell us in the comments below
High: A Journey Across the Himalayas Through Pakistan, India, Bhutan, Nepal and China
by Erika Fatland, MacLehose Press £30
The follow-up to the much-praised Sovietistan (2019) and The Border (2020) sees Norwegian anthropologist Erika Fatland take a year-long journey along 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, particularly women, and her portrait of the region feels refreshing and compelling as a result.
The Alps 1900: A Portrait in Color
by Sabine Arqué and Agnès Couzy, Taschen £150
This collection of photographs and postcards from the “golden age” of Alpine tourism is perhaps the ultimate coffee table book for your mountain chalet. Just make sure it’s a strong table: with 600 pages in an extra-large format, the book weighs in at 6.4kg.
Books of the Year 2022
All this week, FT writers and critics share their favourites. 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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