Here at Much Better Adventures, we love reading books, and we love gifting our favourites. So, since Christmas is the season of giving (as well as love, understanding, jolliness and many other wonderful things), we thought we’d compile a quick list of the books that the team here at Much Better Adventures (or some of the team, at least), have most enjoyed this year- whether they're old books or new.
We know that you might be on the lookout for some book recommendations to either add to your Christmas list or gift to someone on the big day, so we hope this is a helpful starting place! They’re mostly about adventure, as you’d expect - but not all of them!
Underland: A Deep Time Journey by Robert Macfarlane
“Macfarlane hasn't convinced me to spend my weekends potholing just yet. The thought of squeezing through ‘The Cheesepress’ (a notorious caving squeeze in the Yorkshire Dales) gives me shudders - but the imagery and intrigue conjured in this book has opened my eyes to a whole new aspect of the outdoors that I feel I have neglected,” says Customer Experience Specialist Matt Burtenshaw.
“There is a brilliant mixture of scientific studies (such as Mycorrhizal Links between plants known as the ‘Wood Wide Web’) alongside tales of underworld myths and ancient legend. I'm now spending walks checking out what's happening at ground level and planning hikes that divert to as many caves mentioned on the map as possible. If you're looking to discover a whole new layer to your local adventures in lockdown, Underland is a great source of inspiration.”
Price: £10.22 | Bookshop.org
The Unlikely Thru-Hiker: An Appalachian Trail Journey by Derick Lugo
“If anything 2020 has taught us is how to cope with challenges and unpredictability,” says Adventure Manager Tanya Rinaldi. “This hilarious story of an inexperienced hiker that steps out of his comfort zone and does something extraordinary is just that. This may not rank with the classics of trail literature. But it’s certainly one of the most humorous and entertaining trail memoirs I've come across.
Price: £13.98 | Wordery
The Meaning of Travel by Dr Emily Thomas
“My most gifted book of the year is The Meaning of Travel by Dr Emily Thomas,” says Much Better Mag writer Stuart Kenny, who is currently typing in third-person in order to maintain the continuity of this article format. “It’s a deep dive into the how and whys of travel throughout history, drawing on the lessons found in travels of early philosophers. I found it spoke particularly well about the importance of finding otherness in our travels, and of forcing the mind and soul to continually observe new and unknown things, in a world which is becoming increasingly homogenised. The book really makes you seriously reflect on the manner in which you travel - where do you go, how long do you spend there, and why did you want to travel to begin with? It left me desperate to get back out travelling again.”
Price: £13.94 | Bookshop.org
Wilding by Isabella Tree
“An inspiring story about the power of allowing nature to bounce back if only we'll let it,” says co-founder and CEO Alex Narracott. “A really thought-provoking look at the state of UK farming, the 'conservation' movement and the human prejudices around what we consider to be 'natural'. It has given me food for thought, anyway!”
Price: £9.29 | Bookshop.org
As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee
“The book follows 19-year-old Laurie, who grabs his violin, a blanket and a pair of sturdy shoes before getting the boat to Spain to traverse it on foot in 1934,” says Head of Adventure Megan Devenish. “It served as a great reminder of all the things that make a real journey or adventure; the total unknown, lack of preparation, the characters met along the way, a couple of hairy situations and the endless hours spent on the road making sense of it all. It’s full of beautiful, evocative writing and humour, which made it such a rich read.”
Price: £8.36 | Bookshop.org
Neurotribes by Steve Silberman
What is autism: a devastating developmental condition, a lifelong disability, or a naturally occurring form of cognitive difference akin to certain forms of genius? In truth, it is all of these things and more - and the future of our society depends on our understanding it.
“This book is pretty heavy lifting (quite literally), but an eye-opening read. It really does take all sorts of brains to make a real difference,” says Head of Content Jo Fairweather.
Price: £13.94 | Bookshop.org
The Outrun by Amy Liptrot
“This is a memoir about a woman’s struggles as a 20/30-something living in London and fighting a losing battle with job and relationship pressures, isolation and ultimately alcoholism. She then heads back to the remote island in Orkney where she grew up, to start the healing process,” says Adventure Manager Chris Kearney.
“Cue a gradual immersion into nature, cold sea swims, and a journey towards restoration. I like that although the ‘troubled soul, healed by nature’ narrative isn’t a new one, this book didn’t see the person heading off somewhere far-flung, or walking the entire length of the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail). She simply went home and started to pay close attention to the natural world where she grew up, a place she had taken for granted previously. It made me think of people who might normally have travelled far and wide in 2020 to get over something difficult or start a new chapter but couldn’t do that due to Covid. And how many of those might have discovered something akin to that experience right on their doorstep this year instead.”
Price: £9.29 | Bookshop.org
Humankind by Rutger Bregman
"I seemed to start but not finish quite a lot of books this year but one I loved (and quickly finished) was Humankind by Rutger Bregman," says co-founder and CMO Sam Bruce. "The premise of the book is that people are inherently good and the many case studies he uses to try and prove it is really interesting. I read it during the first lockdown and it helped me better understand and appreciate the overwhelming kindness and community spirit that I was witnessing in my neighbourhood and around the country at the time. I've also read some pretty depressing stuff this year about the climate crisis, the pandemic and social injustices and this definitely provided some light and optimism. It's a hopeful, reassuring and fascinating read, especially in the context of 2020."
Price: £9.29| Bookshop.org
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