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Top 5 books about getting lost, chosen by travel writer Tom Chesshyre

Losing your way needn't be a thing to dread. These books reveal the life-affirming opportunities that aimless travel can present

Travel

Image: Dariusz Sankowski on Unsplash

Travel writer Tom Chesshyre selects his top five books that celebrate the underrated benefits and pleasures of getting lost.

As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee 

In 1934 Lee, aged 19, sets off with a backpack and a fiddle, busking his way around Spain. There is a charming innocence to the freedom of his travels, told with a poetic pen, as he weaves from Vigo to near Malaga, never quite sure where he’ll end up the next day. 

A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor

Another tale of a long walk, with Fermor striding forth from the Hook of Holland to Istanbul aged 18 in 1933, a few letters of introduction and a sketchbook in his pocket. He lets what happens, happen – with verve and many diversions.

In Ethiopia with a Mule by Dervla Murphy

At the start of this refreshingly honest account of a journey around the little-visited African country (published in 1968), Murphy admits she found it difficult to provide an answer when asked “Why did you go?” This sets an almost existential tone for the twists and turns to come. 

Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome

This comic classic along the Thames is driven by a desire for “rest and complete change… the overstrain upon our brains has produced a general depression throughout the system. Change of scene, and the absence of the necessity for thought, will restore the mental equilibrium.” And off they paddle. 

Anatomy of Restlessness by Bruce Chatwin 

Published in 1997, this posthumous collection of essays reveals Chatwin’s philosophy of movement: how he believed in an innate, often random, human “drive” to travel long distances. If thwarted, he said, this could lead to “violence, greed, status seeking or a mania for the new”.

Lost in the Lakes book cover

Lost in the Lakes: Notes from a 379-Mile Hike Around the Lake District by Tom Chesshyre is out in paperback on 8 February (Summersdale, £10.99). You can buy most of these titles from The Big Issue shop on Bookshop.org, which helps to support The Big Issue and independent bookshops.

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine, which exists to give homeless, long-term unemployed and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income. To support our work buy a copy!

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