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Geographical's pick of the books: August

  • Written by  Geographical
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Geographical's pick of the books: August
02 Sep
Explore the month's best nonfiction reads 

Chasing the thrill

BOOK OF THE MONTH: CHASING THE THRILLObsession, Death and Glory in America's Most Extraordinary Treasure Hunt by Daniel Barbarisi

When Forrest Fenn, a wealthy New Mexico art dealer, hid a chest filled with old coins, golden relics and precious gems somewhere in the wilds of America in 2010 he set off a decade-long treasure hunt. The content was worth millions of dollars; even the chest was a treasure, a 12th century bronze Romanesque lockbox that had cost $25,000. Those hunting the wealth had little to go on: a cryptic poem, some of Fenn’s personal writings, as well as clues given out in media appearances and a general geography (somewhere in the Rocky Mountains north of Santa Fe). In Chasing the Thrill, Daniel Barbarisi charts the manic rush to discover the treasure.

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Cut Short

CUT SHORT – Youth Violence, Loss and Hope in the City by Ciaran Thapar

Cut Short follows the story of author Ciaran Thapar’s time spent mentoring teenagers in Lambeth, one of the poorest areas of London and the UK as a whole, which sits at the sharp end of the current knife crime epidemic. Having recently moved to Brixton, Thapar signs up to become a student counsellor and coach, determined to forge a connection with local people and learn more about the area around his new home. But the invisible lines of class, race and postcode assert themselves from the start. It’s a steep learning curve for writer and mentees alike.

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Around the world in 80 plants

AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 PLANTS by Jonathan Drori and Lucille Clerc

It’s fair to say that Jonathan Drori, who has spent his life involved with plants and is now a member of the Council of Ambassadors of WWF and The Woodland Trust, has a real place in his heart for the simple and overlooked. In Around the World in 80 Plants, it is more often than not the plants we walk past all the time, or those that form the basis of our food, clothing and domestic gardens that get space to shine.

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Hannigan The Travel Writing Tribe CMYK

THE TRAVEL WRITING TRIBE – Journeys in Search of a Genre by Tim Hannigan

Taking the genre back to its origins, Tim Hannigan cites travel writing as possibly the oldest of all literary traditions. After all, Norse sagas are simply accounts of voyages, the Book of Exodus is a journey narrative and was not Herodotus the original ‘travel writer’, his Histories being a detailed account of view regarding the Greco-Persian Wars? In The Travel Writing Tribe, Hannigan turns the concept on its head in his quest to hunt out travel writers themselves, ‘just as Philip Marsden has tracked down Spirit-Wrestlers and Armenians’. He seeks out the big names from previous generations as well as younger writers trying to carry their work into unknown destinations. It is a journey that brings him face-to-face with writers whose work he has known since his teens, and which sends him delving deep into archives, seminar rooms and academic gatherings, combing library shelves for scholarly works on travel writing.

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London Clay HB

LONDON CLAY – Journeys in the Deep City by Tom Chivers

We walk the streets of London, circumnavigating humans, dodging traffic, while scarcely giving a thought to the world beneath our feet. The daily commute on the Underground fails to excite our curiosity about the subterranean realm. Tom Chivers has journeyed across the metropolis, his thoughts focused on what lies underneath its more than 600 square miles of pavement. In doing so, he has produced a delightful narrative of the deep city, inspiring him to proclaim, ‘London shimmers beneath you’.

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Wild Souls

WILD SOULS – Freedom and Flourishing in the Non-human World by Emma Marris

Taking a slight side step from where she left off at the end of Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World, Emma Marris returns, taking on a series of ‘exercises in practical philosophy’ regarding the ethics of human lives versus those of wild animals. From the conservation of songbirds in Hawaii to the extermination of rats in one part of New Zealand (and their protected status in another), she asks what, in our overwhelmingly human-dominated 21st century, the concept of ‘wild’ even means. 

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