End of 2018 book challenge results

Achieved!

Until January 2018 I read very few books with most of my reading material coming from articles on the Internet! However I’ve enjoyed reading books throughout 2018 and regular reading is something I am going to continue.

Not surprising that most of these have been travel books… I tried a couple of ‘chick lit’ type fiction books but didn’t really find them too inspiring or exciting. For me, they were a bit of a slog to get through and I could take them or leave them.

This is the full list:

  1. Kamikazi Kangaroos! 20,000 Miles Around Australia. One Van, Two Girls… And An Idiot by Tony James Slater
  2. Just Off For A Walk (South West Coast Path) by Stephen Reynolds
  3. No Wrong Turns: Cycling the World, Part One: Paris to Sydney by Chris Pountney
  4. Travels with Rachael: In Search of South America by George Mahood
  5. Balancing on Blue (Appalacian Trail) by Keith Foskett
  6. The Long and Whining Road (around the world by camper van) by Simeon Courtie
  7. Neither Here Nor There by Bill Bryson
  8. Lone Rider (female motorcycle around the world) by Elspeth Beard
  9. High and Low (hiking around Scotland) by Keith Foskett
  10. Together by Julie Cohen
  11. Five Years From Now by Giovanna Fletcher
  12. Moods of Future Joys: Around the World by bike Part 1 by Alastair Humphreys
  13. What Happened That Night by Sheila O’Flanagan
  14. The Little Princess by Casey Watson
  15. Thunder and Sunshine: Around the World by bike Part 2 by Alastair Humphreys
  16. Cycling the World Part 2: Into the Sunrise, Sydney to Mori by Chris Pountney
  17. Grand Adventures by Alastair Humphreys
  18. Walk Sleep Repeat by Stephen Reynolds
  19. Step by Step: The Life in my Journeys by Simon Reeve
  20. It’s on the Meter: One taxi, Three Mates and 43,000 Miles of Misadventure Around the World by Paul Archer and Johno Ellison
  21. My Life with Che by Aleida March
  22. The Bolivian Diary by Ernesto Che Guevara

 

I enjoyed all of the adventure books which makes up most of this list! Books with real people having amazing adventures around the world from Keith Foskett’s long distance hiking to journey’s in camper vans, motorbikes and even a taxi! In particular I would recommend Simon Reeve’s book (no. 19) and the Alastair Humphreys cycle adventure books. These were the well written exciting books I found hard to put down although all have given me plenty of inspiration for future adventures!

 

 

 

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December book review

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Book number 22

Book read: The Bolivian Diary by Ernesto Che Guevara

This book was compiled from the notes Che Guevara made during his final mission before he was captured and executed by the Bolivian army. It is a first hand account of the progress Che and his team of revolutionaries made through the Bolivian jungle as Che attempted to ‘find recruits’ i.e. enlist the help of peasants in an attempt to overthrow the Bolivian government.

Che provides an incredible insight into the tough daily life they led. From his own perspective Che notes the health issues including dealing with his own asthma and lack of medical supplies, the hunger and thirst and tactics to avoid capture.

The book ends abruptly on 7th October 1967 with Che’s final diary entry… it leaves a chill as you know this was the moment just before he was captured…

From a personal perspective I found this another inspiring and slightly life shaping book. Us westerners moan and complain about the slightest little discomfort: “It’s 11:30 and I’m starving… is it nearly lunchtime?” or “I got soaked to the skin” when walking in the rain back to their warm comfy home and hot bath; or “I could never sleep in a tent”… a small waterproof tent with a few beers and a sleeping bag for a weekend is a luxury compared with sleeping under trees in a jungle in the rain for months on end with little food; insects biting you; foreign armies trying to shoot you and having to spend the next day tired and exhausted as you continue your trek with soaking kit and damp clothes…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November book review

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Havana

Good effort with 3 books read within the last month 🙂

Book number 19

Book read: Step by Step: The Life in my Journeys by Simon Reeve

An awesome book from TV presenter Simon Reeve and possibly my favourite book so far this year. Simon gives an honest account of his incredibly interesting life and he opened my eyes to important global issues.

Simon comes from a modest ‘normal’ background where he grew up in West London with his teacher father, mother and his younger brother. He describes his difficult teenage years where he left school with few qualifications, battled with depression and basically didn’t feel he had much hope in his life.

He got into journalism with a job in the post room and became involved in research. He wrote a book on terrorism before the terrorist attacks of 9-11 after which he became well known as an author, leading to TV appearances and a TV career.

Simon’s first TV travel adventure was called ‘Meet the Stans’ and at the beginning of Chapter 13 he describes the anticlimax felt when he arrived back in London after filming the first half of the series. For me, coming back from any trip and back to the routine of life is always an anticlimax although, as Simon points out, travelling around the world is an “abnormal privilege” and something unthinkable for the vast majority of the world’s population.

Simon describes the issue of migrant workers in Chapter 18, whereby countries such as the UK save money by recruiting Ghanaian health workers which is more than the money they give to Ghana in health aid! This is an issue I’ve never previously considered… how much of this goes on? ‘Rich’ countries making themselves look good with foreign aid donations while simultaneously saving millions with cheap migrant labour!

I resonated with a paragraph at the end of Chapter 19 where Simon suggests we should add meaning and adventure to our trips; for example, by going to strange places, taking chances and embracing risk, rather than “lying horizontal by the pool”. So delving into the culture of a place and not sticking within the confines of the hotel.

Furthermore, Chapter 21 was also close to my heart and values and offers Simon’s take on the environmental consequences of travel. He advises we seek out authentic travel experiences and understand that when we pay our national park entrance fees, we are helping to preserve  “the greatest wildlife on the planet”.

All in all, a brilliant and highly recommended book!

 

Book number 20

Book read: It’s on the Meter: One taxi, Three Mates and 43,000 Miles of Misadventure Around the World by Paul Archer and Johno Ellison

This was another inspiring travel and adventure book! This is about 3 lads who, after a drunken evening, agreed to buy a London taxi and embark on ‘the longest taxi journey in the world…’

A short while later they were en-route from London to Sydney… the beginning, the Europe section was ‘laddish’ with tales of getting drunk almost every evening with their couch surfing hosts. I had no problem with this given they were all in their 20’s and it was fun to read of their antics.

The book got more interesting as they ventured towards Central Asia and described the issues they faced with their journey across borders into countries such as Iran and Pakistan. And their drive across the highest point in the world, Everest Basecamp!

Their adventure was event featured in the Daily Mail!

Another exciting ‘hard to put down’ book!

 

Book number 21

Book read: Remembering Che: My Life With Che Guevara by Aleida March

I picked up this book in Varadero airport at the end of my trip to Cuba where, throughout a week of seeing his iconic image at almost every turn, I was intrigued to learn more about Che Guevara and the Cuban Revolution.

Of over 20 books I’ve now read so far this year, this is only the third paperback with the rest being Kindle books as downloaded to my iPad. However with a recent holiday to Grenada I had saved this book until then.

Learning about history has interested me much more as I’ve got older; having seen places around the world I can now relate to them in a way that they seem much more real than ever being taught from a text book at school. To be honest, I was never keen on history lessons back then.

This book was written by Aleida March who was Che’s wife and the mother of 4 of his 5 children. Argentinian Che met Cuban born Aleida when they were both guerrillas in the Cuban Revolutionary army. The book describes her early life and her life with Che until the point he was assassinated in Bolivia in 1967.

This is an incredible story of her militant life back in the day when many women were housewives. The book was difficult to follow at times but gave a fascinating account of  Cuban history and a side of Che Guevara that would previously have been unknown.

Another fascinating book!