New books on travel and place

Tom Chesshyre is perhaps best known for his journeys on the rails (Slow Trains to Venice; Slow Trains Around Spain), but he’s a walker, too, and has followed the Thames From Source to Sea. In his latest book, Lost in the Lakes (Summersdale, £16.99, April 13), he’s on foot again, making a “big wobbly circle” through the Lake District, focusing on the 16 principal bodies of water rather than the “Wainwright” peaks. The idea “is to show a new way around the Lakes that suits the casual rambler”.

  A link in an email from Reaktion Books about titles coming in autumn has directed me to some books due a little earlier than that. In The Stopping Places, which was short-listed in 2019 for the Stanford Dolman prize, Damian Le Bas journeyed through Gypsy Britain as it is today. In Travellers Through Time (Reaktion Books, £20, April 24), Jeremy Harte, secretary of the Romany and Traveller Family History Society, offers “the first real history of the Romany people, from the inside”. He “portrays the hardships of the travelling life, the skills of woodland crafts, the colourful artistic traditions, the mysteries of a lost language and the flamboyant displays of weddings and funerals, which are all still present in this secretive culture”.

  In Astray (Reaktion Books, £16, May 1), Eluned Summers-Bremner, who has written books on insomnia and the novels of Ian McEwan, offers what the publisher says is “an enthralling look at wandering, belonging, alienation and hope throughout history”. Moving from ancient ancient Australian Aboriginal cosmology to the journeys of today’s refugees, she aims to show that “wandering is the means by which creativity and skills of adaptation are preserved”.

  In The Food Adventurers (Reaktion Books, July, £20), Daniel E Bender, a professor of food studies and history at the University of Toronto, tells the history of eating on round-the-world trips, looking at what tourists ate, as well as what they avoided, and what kinds of meals they described in diaries, photographs and postcards. 

  In the acclaimed Wanderers (2020), Kerri Andrews told the stories of 10 women who had found walking “essential to their sense of themselves as women, writers and people” — from Elizabeth Carter, a parson’s daughter of the 18th century, to Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild. Wanderers was a bestseller, and Andrews is following it up with Way Makers (Reaktion Books, September 1, £15.99), which the publisher says is “the first anthology of women’s writing about walking”. Moving from the 18th century to the present day, and taking in poetry, letters, diaries and novels, it is “testament to the rich literary heritage created by generations of women walker-writers over the centuries”. Andrews, incidentally, will be at the inaugural Abingdon Walking Festival in Oxfordshire on April 22.

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