The best books of 2022: Travel

Closer to the edge
by Leo Houlding, Heading £20

The British pioneer climber’s first book suffers from trying to cram in too many episodes from an absurdly eventful life, but it’s an engaging read. Rather than striving for the philosophical implications of the sport like many mountaineering memoirs, Leo Houlding offers an honest look at the tight-knit climbing scene in Britain and Yosemite, and the risks and rewards of a dangerous career.

tourists: How the Brits went abroad to find themselves
by Lucy Lethbridge, Bloomsbury £20

With the end of the Napoleonic Wars, Europe reopened to British travelers and paved the way for tourism’s transition from an aristocratic activity to something for the fast-growing middle class. And almost immediately the hapless tourist was mocked: “Peace has set John Bull a-gadding,” wrote Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1818, “with leaking purse and open-mouthed.” Lucy Lethbridge’s fascinating account traces the development of modern tourism from the 19th century to the 1970s.

The PO: An elegy for Italy’s longest river
by Tobias Jones, Head of Zeus £25

The 400-mile-long Po stretches across Italy, rising in the Alps near the French border and then flowing east to empty into the Adriatic Sea near Venice. Tobias Jones travels its length – on foot, by boat, canoe, bicycle and more – introducing not just a river but a country, from ancient history to contemporary environmental issues.

Tell us what you think

What are your favorites from this list – and which books did we miss? Tell us in the comments below

High: A journey across the Himalayas through Pakistan, India, Bhutan, Nepal and China
by Erika Fatland MacLehose Press £30

The successor to the much acclaimed Sovietistan (2019) and The border (2020), Norwegian anthropologist Erika Fatland sees a year-long journey along the Himalayas, through Pakistan, India, Bhutan, Nepal and China. Rather than scaling the imposing peaks, Fatland’s main activity is interviewing people, especially women, and her portrayal of the region is refreshing and compelling as a result.

The Alps 1900: A portrait in color
by Sabine Arqué and Agnès Couzy, Bags £150

This collection of photographs and postcards from the “golden age” of alpine tourism might be the ultimate illustrated book for your mountain hut. Just make sure it’s a strong table: with 600 extra-large pages, the book weighs 6.4 kg.

Books of the year 2022

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

Monday: Andrew Hill’s business
Tuesday: Surroundings of Pilita Clark
Wednesday: Economics by Martin Wolf
Thursday: Fiction by Laura Battle
Friday: Politics by Gideon Rachman
Saturday: The Critics’ Choice

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