Ten days of gifts – number 8

Yes, it’s getting closer – and all I can tell you at the moment is that there’s baking going on at Wisepacking Towers as mince pies and cheese scones are coming out of the oven…

Now you may have realised by now that I’m a great fan of the Kindle. It’s light, it’s compact and the battery life is pretty good for most eventualities.

There are times though when the Kindle isn’t quite the answer to everything (that’s still 42!).

I still prefer paper guide books to electronic ones as they’re easier to access, don’t rely on batteries being charged on the device being used at the time, relevant sections can be photocopied for use on our travels or older versions can be cannibalised to serve the same purpose.

There’s also the still popular concept of coffee table books. Doesn’t matter if they’re paperback or hardback, the glossy photographs and the text alongside the pictures can still inspire in a way that viewing on an electronic screen can’t in my opinion.

But hey, here’s a quick round-up of what’s out there. Some titles have been around for a while now and that’s a good thing as it’s a testament as to how good the book was in the first place!

Some books are easy reads, whilst others require a little bit more attention once they’re opened. It’s thirty years since I first read Robert Pirsig’s Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance and it’s still quite challenging.

The Travel Book – A Journey Around Every Country In The World (Lonely Planet) is one of those glossy books that make you want to grab a bag and get out there. Once seen, it’s likely that you may need something with a little more detail about any country that’s highlighted in the book.

Which is where the world of the guide book kicks in. Preferred reading here usually comes from either Lonely Planet or Rough Guides, although DK and Berlitz works are also on the bookshelf at the opposite end of the room to this computer.

As High Street bookshops sometimes offer their travel stock on a 3 for 2 promotion, it’s not uncommon for me to buy both a Lonely Planet and a Rough Guide to a particular country, especially if the country is being visited just two days after booking the flights!

Bookshop offers have also tended to include phrase books in the past too, so getting some lingo learned at the last minute can also come in useful even if it only to order a beer, coffee or to ask for a pack of Rennies in Lagos!

Wandering around a bookshop can also bring up some timeless works too. Harry Enfield’s bicycling dad Edward Enfield’s Greece On My Wheels and Downhill All The Way are on both my bookshelves and on my Kindle. The paperbacks were on offer when I bought them and when the Kindle versions were on offer over the summer, I succumbed once more. And did the same with Just A Little Run Around The World by Rosie Swale Pope

The recent re-runs of Michael Palin travel programmes Around The World In Eighty Days and New Europe on The Travel Channel reminded me of the mix of paperback and hardback versions of his travel books (and the relevant DVDs too) that are on the bookshelves in my upstairs office.

Yes, the paperbacks keep getting new covers, but the content is still very readable thanks to Palin’s observational powers and his willingness to try things out (I’d still pass on eating a freshly killed and cooked snake though!).

Another Michael that’s moved on from his original career is Michael Portillo. There’s quite a few books (and yes, DVDs) of his British, Irish and Continental Railway Journeys available along with copies of the various Bradshaw’s Handbooks that have been used to inspire Michael’s travels.

A recent visit to the Yorkshire Air Museum at Elvington near York meant that I spotted one Bradshaw which could provide the inspiration for a spin off from his rail travels. Bradshaw’s International Air Guide from 1931 was the tome in question and it could be a good choice for a brand extension by Mr. P… especially given the number of thumbs up given to his programmes in The Guardian’s online television section.

Oh, and another thing… Given the recent problems with deliveries from online retailers, take a wander into a bookshop.

If it’s an independent shop then so much the better, because a wander around could bring you into contact with a whole set of delights to either buy on the day or file in the memory banks in readiness for the next visit.

After all, there is a very wide choice out there – especially if you’re passing Stanfords in Covent Garden!

The visit to any bookshop may damage your wealth – but in a good way!

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About Keith Rickaby

Fiftysomething writer and occasional photographer who has worked in the tailoring trade and the outdoor/travel clothing, equipment and footwear game. Past lives include working as an outdoor instructor, managing three bands and doing PR work through an agency or my own contacts. Was a student in the mid-90s and whilst I'm originally from the North East, I'm now firmly based in't Yorkshire...
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