APA Publications Travel Memoir Book of the Year

SHORTLIST:
A Beginner's Guide to Japan: Observations and Provocations by Pico Iyer

A Beginner’s Guide to Japan is a playful and profound guidebook full of surprising, brief and incisive glimpses into Japanese culture.

 

Pico Iyer’s adventures and observations as he travels from a meditation-hall to a love-hotel, from West Point to Kyoto Station make for a constantly surprising series of provocations guaranteed to pique the interest of those who don’t know Japan, and to remind those who do of the wide range of fascinations the country contains.

Footnotes by Peter Fiennes

Peter Fiennes follows in the footsteps of twelve inspirational writers tracing paths recorded in their books and journals, and looking for the country they once knew. 

 

Beginning with the Isle of Purbeck, Enid Blyton’s favourite holiday spot, he accompanies Somerville and Ross on their ascent of Snowdon; revisits the English journey of JB Priestley in the 30s and Beryl Bainbridge in the 80s, and traces Dickens’ final journey from his house in Gad’s Hill to his resting place in Westminster Abbey.

Mud and Stars: Travels in Russia with Pushkin and Other Geniuses of the Golden Age by Sara Wheeler

There is a literal Russian landscape, and there is its emotional, literary counterpart. In Mud and Stars, award-winning writer Sara Wheeler sets out to explore both.

 

At a time of deteriorating relations between Russia and the West, Wheeler searches for a Russia not in the news – a Russia of humanity and daily struggles. She gives voice to the ‘ordinary’ people of Russia, and discovers how the writers of the Golden Age continue to represent their country today.

Just Another Mountain: A Memoir by Sarah Jane Douglas

The true story of a young woman who, in the mountains of Scotland, found the strength to face her grief, to accept her troubled past and, ultimately, to keep on walking – even when life threatened, once more, to pull her off course.

 

A life-affirming journey of healing and endurance, and of how we strive to keep both love and hope alive.

The Summer Isles by Philip Marsden

In an old wooden sloop, Philip Marsden plots a course north from his home in Cornwall. He is sailing for the Summer Isles, a small archipelago near the top of Scotland that holds for him a deep and personal significance. On the way, he must navigate the west coast of Ireland and the Inner Hebrides. Bearing the

full force of the Atlantic, it is a seaboard which is also a mythical frontier, a place as rich in story as anywhere on earth.

 

Through the people he meets and the tales he uncovers, Marsden builds up a haunting picture of these shores - of imaginary islands and the Celtic otherworld, of the ageless draw of the west, of the life of the sea and perennial loss - and the redemptive power of the imagination. Exhilarating and poignant, Marsden's prose has been widely praised. Bringing together themes he has been pursuing for many years, The Summer Isles is an unforgettable account of the search for actual places, invented places, and those places in between that shape the lives of individuals and entire nations.

North Korea Journal by Michael Palin

In May 2018, former Monty Python stalwart and intrepid globetrotter Michael Palin spent two weeks in the notoriously secretive Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, a cut-off land without internet or phone signal, where the countryside has barely moved beyond a centuries-old peasant economy but where the cities have gleaming skyscrapers and luxurious underground train stations. His resulting documentary for Channel 5 was widely acclaimed.

Now he shares his day-by-day diary of his visit, in which he describes not only what he saw – and his fleeting views of what the authorities didn’t want him to see – but recounts the conversations he had with the country’s inhabitants, talks candidly about his encounters with officialdom, and records his musings about a land wholly unlike any other he has ever visited – one that inspires fascination and fear in equal measure.

Written with Palin’s trademark warmth and wit, and illustrated with beautiful colour photographs throughout, the journal offers a rare insight into the North Korea behind the headlines.

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