Greatest books of 2020: Travel | Monetary Instances
Without ever reaching the top, by Paolo Cognetti, Harvill Secker, RRP £ 10.99, 160 pages
This sleek, elegant report is a breath of fresh air for mountain lovers currently in custody. It follows Cognetti’s hike through the remote Dolpo region in northwestern Nepal. It is a travel diary, a literary homage to Peter Matthiessens The Snow Leopard and a laudation on the purity of life at great heights. The sparse, graceful prose (translated from Italian by Stash Luczkiw) reflects the barren landscape and the author’s delight in pushing back the distractions of modern life.
A grave with a view: The stories and glories of the cemeteries, by Peter Ross, heading, MSRP £ 20, 368 pages
It may seem crude to get this book named in time, but in recent years many of us have enjoyed walking a local cemetery, fresh air, solitude and, in Ross’ words, “a vaccine against the dark; If you are exposed to a particle of darkness you will not get sick. “He explores cemeteries across Great Britain, Ireland and Flanders and finds them to be ‘treasuries of stories’. The pages are full of life and anecdotes while examining our relationship to memory.
The whale museum you will never see: Traveling among the collectors of Iceland, by A Kendra Greene, Granta, RRP £ 14.99, 272 pages
Iceland has only 357,000 inhabitants but 265 museums. Though the country’s ice caps and thermal baths draw all the attention, many visitors will spend a wet afternoon in front of an esoteric gathering, be it herring, punk rock, or phallology. Greene’s quirky narrative style isn’t for everyone, but her museum tour captures the magical charm of this wild, idiosyncratic land.
Best books of 2020
FT writers and reviewers share their favorites throughout the week. Some highlights are:
Monday: Andrew Hill’s shop
Tuesday: Economy by Martin Wolf
Wednesday: Politics by Gideon Rachman
Thursday: Tony Barber’s story
Friday: The Critic’s Choice
Saturday: Crime of Barry Forshaw
Cathedrals made of steam: How London’s Great Stations were built – and how they transformed the city, by Christian Wolmar, Atlantic Books, RRP £ 25, 352 pages
In just four decades in the mid-19th century, London – more than any other city – had a dozen major train stations built by competing railroad companies trying to get as close as possible to the center of the capital. The creation of these stations shaped the city and almost all of them survive today. Wolmar’s story will inspire Zugspotter, but it is also fascinating for the passengers who often pass these large temples of transport without a second thought.
Give us your opinion
What are your favorites from this list – and which books have we missed? Let us know in the comments below
Antarctic Atlas: New maps and graphics that tell the story of a continent, by Peter Fretwell, Certain Books, RRP £ 35, 208 pages
Fretwell, cartographer and scientist with the British Antarctic Survey, has created 70 new maps, each revealing different aspects of the icy continent. We learn the locations of the “Pole of Ignorance”, the driest place in the world and the largest penguin colonies, but also about human history and politics in the region and – alarmingly – what Antarctica could look like when all the ice has disappeared.
Tom Robbins is the FT’s tour guide
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