What We’re Reading: Team Patchwork’s Favourite Travel Books

Hopefully, if you haven’t been on holiday yet this summer, you’ve got something planned. And what better way to get in the mood for your trip than reading a good book about packing up and heading off. We’ve picked some of our favourite books about travel that will keep you inspired until your next adventure…

Kim, Commercial Director – The Unlikely Voyage of Jack De Crow: A Mirror Odyssey from North Wales to the Black Sea

It’s the most brilliant adventure story – without really meaning to be!

I love this book for many reasons, but the two that immediately spring to mind are…

It reminds me of when my brother and I aged about 6 & 8 (and other little friends in other boats) used to sail up the river Dart in our mirror dinghy (called Ciao) and camp by the waters edge in farmers fields. In our minds then, the size of the adventure was equal to reading this book now. (How none of us died I have no idea. Our parents were lurking somewhere nearby but I don’t remember seeing them much.)

But the main reason this book is so special is the certainty that amazing adventures can just happen, without money, planning or equipment. All you need is a great sense of humour and a reasonable amount of courage. The rest will just happen.

Olivia Knight, Founder – The Go-Between by L. P. Hartley

This book is about a 13 year old boy Leo who goes to spend his summer holidays with his friend Marcus in the Norfolk countryside. It’s not so much that he travels far but the journey that he goes on that’s so transformative.

It’s the most evocative book I’ve ever read describing the seductive and oppressive heat of an English summer, the long afternoons he spends exploring the countryside alone (when his best friend comes down with measles) and the illicit love affair he discovers between Lady Marion and Ted the farmer as he becomes their ‘go-between’.

The Go-Between is hopeful, romantic, heart-warming and tragic. It’s a journey back in time to 1900, back into childhood. It’s about a young boy’s initiation into the adult world of love and desire within the constraints of a strict social class structure. As the opening sentence of the book warns us…

‘The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.’ If you’re feeling the heat of the summer and want to escape to another time and place. You need to read this book.

Ismay, Creative Director  – ‘A Time of Gifts’ by Patrick Leigh Fermor

In 1933, at the age of 18, Fermor set out on an epic walk across Europe – from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople, with a budget of £4 per month. This book, which is the first in a trilogy (although the third still hasn’t been been published!), takes him as far as Hungary.

Fermor is brilliant and charming and narrates what is an unbelievable adventure in a very different time in an incredibly captivating way. As Europe is on the verge of being torn apart, Fermor finds the beauty in its countries, its people, and its cultures. He’

s a young man armed with plenty of youthful confidence and enthusiasm, and has an inspiring ability to make friends wherever he goes.

The reason I love this book so much is how well it highlights the persistent kindness of strangers – he was met everywhere he went with generosity and warmth. I like to think it would be the same today.

Kate, Design – ‘The Lonely Londoners’ by Sam Selvon’

The Lonely Londoners follows a group of people who have just arrived in 1950s London on the boat train from the West Indies. It’s all about trying to start afresh and the struggles that come with life in a new city – especially when you have a different face to the locals.

Written largely in patois/creolised English the reader gets a real sense of the hostile welcome the Windrush Generation felt, their determination to adapt and make the city their own, and how that has made London the city it is today.

It’s an evocative novel about the loneliness of missing the warmth of home, the importance of community and the bright lights of London.