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Geographical’s pick of the books: October

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Geographical’s pick of the books: October
24 Sep
September’s top non-fiction reads

Book of Trespass

BOOK OF THE MONTH: THE BOOK OF TRESPASS: Crossing the Lines that Divide Us by Nick Hayes

It’s tempting to think of the English countryside as a bucolic landscape that, with minor restrictions, we are all free to roam. Picturesque rivers, hills, woodlands and meadows criss-crossed with public footpaths that we can explore to our heart’s content. Yet that’s far from the reality. In fact, most of England is out of bounds to the general public. Today, around 92 per cent of land in England is off limits, as well as 97 per cent of the country’s waterways.

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EAT THE BUDDHA: The Story of Modern Tibet Through the People of One Town by Barbara Demick

Best known for her revelatory book about North Korea, Nothing to Envy, Barbara Demick returns with a familiar style but a new location. Choosing as her focus the small town of Ngaba, located in Sichuan Province, China, but Tibetan in every way, she uses the intimate, traumatic and inspirational stories of residents past and present to tell the wider story of modern Tibet. 

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On Time and Water

ON TIME AND WATER by Andri Snær Magnason

In On Time and Water, Magnason discovers a poetic answer to the question of how we move people to climate action, using family history to construct a portal through environmental time. 

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Au revoir Tristesse

AU REVOIR, TRISTESSE: Lessons in Happiness from French Literature by Viv Groskop 

Groskop’s latest book is a heart-felt and beautifully written love letter to France and to French literature in which Groskop introduces the reader to her favourite twelve French writers – from Francoise Sagan to Albert Camus, via Hugo, Flaubert, Maupassant and others. 

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STRANGE RITES: New Religions for a Godless World by Tara Isabella Burton

Religion – or more precisely formal, institutional religion – is facing a crisis in the USA. The number of religiously unaffiliated (or ‘nones’ as Burton labels them) are creeping up: 15 per cent of Americans said they didn’t affiliate with any church in 2007. By 2012, that figure stood at 20 per cent and rising. But here’s the catch: they aren’t turning their backs on faith. Rather, according to Tara Isabella Burton, Americans are now experiencing a new spiritual awakening, that’s powered, as Protestantism was by the printing press, by the growth of internet culture.

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To the Lighthouse

TO THE LIGHTHOUSE: Lockdown Swansea by Smartphone and Bike by Nick Smith

Photographer Nick Smith has spent the past three decades travelling with his camera to more than 100 countries. He has crossed the Namib Desert, photographed elephants in the Okavango Delta, penguins in Antarctica and polar bears at the North Pole. Without a doubt, one of the most bizarre ventures of his career was a 75-day, 1,500-mile voyage that took him no more than five-miles from his home in Swansea. This was the limit the Welsh authorities allowed people to travel under the coronavirus lockdown.

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