(Issue 68, Autumn 2014) Books that have caught our eye this season:
The one to read
The Irresponsible Traveller: Tales of Scrapes and Narrow Escapes (Bradt Travel Guides)
What happens when 40 of our most loved and adventurous travellers get together to tell their tales of ‘scrapes and narrow escapes’? You get one of the most delightful travel books to be published in a generation, and one we have no hesitation recommending as our read of the season. The book has been produced to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Bradt Guides, and is inspired by the honest, down-to-earth travel insight that Hilary Bradt has built her reputation on. It reminds us that the joy of travel lies in the thrill of discovery when things, thankfully, don’t go to plan.
In South Africa at the beginning of the year my tour guide gave me a book entitled Cape Town Then and Now, by Vincent van Graan. It is a wonderful pictorial coffee table book. I quote from the jacket: “A unique visual portrait of Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula contrasting rare archival photographs with stunning contemporary views. These images portray the changing Cape Town scene from the 1880s to the 1930s – landscape, architecture, transport, recreation and the march of history. Where possible, the modern day photographs have been shot from the same locations as the originals. It is a visual journey that will appeal to Capetonians and visitors alike.”
Recommended by Linda Rogers, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
If you’d like to propose a favourite book about Africa, share it with fellow readers: email@example.com
• Through My African Eyes, by Jeff Koinange (footprints press)
For a broader perspective on Africa, Koinange provides a fascinating read. The renowned Kenyan journalist and TV personality has travelled to 47 countries in Africa to interview some of its biggest characters. Along the way, he’s developed a view of the continent that is very definitely worth appreciating.
• Kenya, A Natural History, by Stephen Spawls and Glenn Mathews (T&AD Poyser)
Although published last year, we’ve included this because it’s a thorough exploration of the wildlife and habitats of the country so many of us love.
• Under an African Sky, by Peter Hudson (New Internationalist)
An account of the author’s relationship with the people of Mauritania as they struggle to adapt to new realities. But it comes with a warning: what happens in Mauritania will, in time, affect us all. READER OFFER: We have 5 copies of this book to give away. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
• The Sarcastic Lens , by Richard & Amy Lynn (self-published)
The Lynns are everyday travellers like you, who have produced a book of their (really good) photographs along with very humorous commentary. Our preview was very funny. A full review will follow when our copy arrives. Here follows their letter to us:
“My name is Richard Lynn. My wife, Amy, and I have just self-published a 280 page coffee table book entitled: “The Sarcastic Lens: An Ordinary Couple’s Photographic Journey through the Animal Kingdom.” As the name implies, the book is a light-hearted journey photographing animals around the world. We visit all seven continents and over 40 countries. The book contains over 700 photographs, all of which were taken by either Amy or me. It is all presented in a top 100 format which makes it easy to read all at once or from time-to-time when the spirit moves you. Many of the images are from Africa, a continent we have visited seven times over eight countries.
We believe that the readers of Travel Africa magazine would enjoy reading our story and about the places we have visited and the animals we have photographed. First of all, Amy and I are just two ordinary 60-year olds, each with a regular job and a sense of humor, who like to travel and photograph wildlife. We are not professional photographers. This would give the readers a different perspective than the one they normally get from the professional photographers who dominate the articles in these types of magazines. We use normal camera equipment; no tripods and no Photoshop. People might be able to relate more to this. One of the points of our book is that is that if we can take these photographs, so too can almost anyone. You do not have to sit alone in a blind for days on end to capture wonderful images nor do you have to have a masters degree in camera operation. We travel to destinations in Africa your readers want to see. Next, while the photographs are eye-catching, we like to think that it is the commentary that sets the book apart. As we like to say: come for the photos, but stay for the stories. The stories are often amusing and, as the title suggests, sometimes downright sarcastic. An interview with us would be the same. The book is not your typical animal book giving you the gestation period of a giraffe and the lifespan of an elephant. It is our absurdist view of the animal world with excellent photos to accompany it. Yet, it provides just enough information to also be somewhat educational. Finally, while the book covers a wide variety of animals from all over the world, it certainly covers enough of the African animals as to be very relevant to your magazine. It will be fun for your readers to not only see the African animals, but to also see them interspersed with an incredible variety of animals from around the world. Not since the days of Noah’s ark have so many diverse animals been gathered in one place.
Thanks so much for your time.”