A year cycling round the world is a year spending a lot of time by yourself. I met lots of people along the way but there were many nights alone in my tent, and reading played an important part in passing the time, engaging my mind and keeping me sane. At the start I predicted I’d consume more TV than books, due to being tired at the end of a day’s cycling, but the opposite turned out to be the case: I often couldn’t face watching a program through to the end, preferring to read a book as I could put it down any time I liked.
My e-book reader proved to be invaluable: I don’t know how I’d have got hold of such a wide range of reading material all over the world without it. I’d either have had to carry a veritable library around with me, make do with any old lit I could find, or else – shock horror – ride my bike more!
I also listened to a lot of audiobooks; a few on Audible and then whatever I could find on Spotify. I didn’t keep a list of those and I’m not going to attempt to list them but there was a lot of nineteenth century literature in there; a lot of Poe, Verne, Lovecraft et al. It was a good way of getting through works I’d never read properly but wanted to know about as cultural touchstones.
Anyway, here’s the list: all the books I read on tour. They all come recommended, even the ones I didn’t finish!
The are other rivers (poster edition) – Alastair Humphreys
Journey to the Centre of the Earth – Richard and Nicholas Crane
Lone Traveller: One woman, two wheels and the world – Anne Mustoe
The Places In Between – Rory Stewart
Feet in the Clouds: A tale of fell running and obsession – Richard Askwith
The White Spider – Heinrich Harrer
I Like Alf: 14 lessons from the life of Alf Engers – Paul Jones
The Gulag archipelago (abridged) – Alexander Solzhenitsyn
The Great Game: on secret service in high Asia – Peter Hopkirk
Liberty or Death: India’s journey to independence and division – Patrick French
The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a global world – Maya Jasanoff
Cider with Rosie – Laurie Lee
As I walked out one midsummer morning – Laurie Lee
Down and Out in Paris and London – George Orwell
Knowing Jesus through the Old Testament – Christopher J.H. Wright
The Bible – Not much of it but that’s hardly the point, is it?
Stone Mattress: Nine Wicked Tales – Margaret Attwood
Count Zero – William Gibson
Mona Lisa Overdrive – William Gibson
The Quiet American – Graham Greene
Salem’s Lot – Stephen King
The Little Drummer Girl – John le Carré
The Mission Song – John le Carré