Best summer books of 2022: Travel

Imagine a City: A Pilot Sees the World
by Mark Vanhoenacker, Chatto & Windus £16.99/Knopf $30

In 2015, the pilot and FT columnist’s debut, Skyfaring, saw Vanhoenacker hailed as the “poet of the skies” for his meticulous, mellifluous descriptions of the processes of flying. For his latest book, he ventures beyond the cockpit to explore the numerous cities around the world that he visits frequently between flights. Its more personal, less aviation-geeky, but with the same reassuringly precise and perceptive voice.

Time on Rock: A Climber’s Route into the Mountains
by Anna Fleming, Canongate £16.99

“Each rock type speaks its own language,” writes Fleming, and in this engaging debut we hear many of them. As she progresses from novice to experienced climber, she leads us from the seemingly featureless grit stone of the English Peak District, to the “gothic cathedrals” of tufa on a Greek island and the dark, coarse-grained Gabbro on the Isle of Skye. With machismo noticeably absent, the sport becomes something more interesting: “A form of dance. And within that absorbing outdoor ballet — when stretching and balancing, reaching and releasing — you come to see things differently.”

Walking with Nomads
by Alice Morrison, Simon & Schuster £20

Perhaps it’s a result of the pandemic but much new travel writing seems increasingly inward looking, often leaning heavily into memoir and self-discovery, striving to find fresh meaning in familiar locations. So there is something refreshingly straightforward about Morrison’s latest adventure. The Scottish-born, Morocco-based writer leaves a copy of her will with her parents, rents some camels and sets out on an expedition across the deserts and dunes, from the Atlas Mountains to the Sahara.

Explorer: The Quest for Adventure and the Great Unknown
by Benedict Allen, Canongate £18.99

In 2017, Allen was late emerging from a jungle trip in Papua New Guinea. Media interest soared, the Daily Mail sent a helicopter to rescue him, and Allen was thrust into the limelight as either a heroic explorer or dubious imperial throwback, depending on which headline you read. This is his own thoughtful, sensitive account of what happened — and of his lifetime of travelling alone to remote communities.

The Trespasser’s Companion
by Nick Hayes, Bloomsbury £14.99

As wild swimming and a desire to reconnect with nature become increasingly mainstream obsessions, so the politics of trespass are set to rise up the agenda. Those in England have access to just 8 per cent of the land, writes Hayes, and swim in only 3 per cent of rivers. This manifesto “is not an incitement to break the law, it is a call to change it”.

Summer Books 2022

All this week, FT writers and critics share their favourites. Some highlights are:

Monday: Economics by Martin Wolf
Tuesday: Environment by Pilita Clark
Wednesday: Fiction by Laura Battle
Thursday: History by Tony Barber
Friday: Politics by Gideon Rachman
Saturday: Critics’ choice

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