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Books & Hikes

Throughout 2023, we sent some book suggestions related to travel and nature in our newsletter. Because reading often inspires us to discover new places and, because many places, inspire us to read books. We have now decided to compile all the suggestions from the "Books & Hikes" section.

Happy reading!

In this article you will find links that are part of an affiliate program with the Wook bookstore. This means that, when you use any of these links to make a purchase at Wook, we receive a small commission in shopping vouchers. The good news is that you don't pay for it anymore! All books are selected by us and we only select books that we consider relevant to the theme of "walks and books"

The Hidden Life of the TREES, from Peter Wohlleben

We started the year with a suggestion to visit a mysterious and intriguing world, we talked about the book The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben. This book shows us the (still) unknown world of trees, how they communicate with each other, how they care for each other, and shows us that trees also have feelings. Ideal for reading in a forest or natural park surrounded by nature. Have you ever tried hugging a tree?


The Lost City of Z, from David Grann

In February we delved into the Amazon jungle. Our suggestion was the book The Lost City of Z by David Grann. The author tells the true story of the intrepid English explorer Percy Fawcett, who was obsessed with discovering an ancient civilization in the territory of the Amazon Rainforest. In 1925, he took his eldest son, aged 21, with him on a mission in search of the "Lost City of Z". After that, they disappear without a trace. The region where this city supposedly existed remains practically unexplored today. Let yourself be carried away on this suspenseful adventure through the Amazon jungle.

The Elefant's Journey, from José Saramago

A Portuguese writer, Nobel laureate in literature, José Saramago. In April we discovered The Elephant's Journey. Using scarce historical records of an elephant belonging to King João III, coming from India, and using his inexhaustible imagination, José Saramago describes the journey of the elephant Solomon (given as a wedding gift to his cousin Archduke Maximilian of Austria), from Lisbon to Valladolid, along old paths that connected Lisbon to Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo.

Our suggestion is that you follow the cultural route corresponding to the Portuguese route to the places where the elephant passed. Starting at Torre de Belém and passing through some Historical Villages of Portugal, such as Constância, Castelo Novo, Belmonte, Cidadelhe and Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo. Solomon's Way was inaugurated by the author himself in 2009 and is "an excuse to travel through Portugal with a book in hand". We like this idea!

Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, from Júlio Verne

Journey to the Center of the Earth, was our suggestion in May. In this book released in 1864, the story was inspired by a trip that Jules Verne took through the Scandinavian countries. Otto Lidenbrock, a professor of mineralogy, discovers a mysterious scroll from a 16th century Icelandic alchemist, where the sage declared that he had managed to reach the center of the earth, from the crater of the Sneffels volcano, located in western Iceland. The professor, accompanied by his nephew Axel and a local guide (Hans Bjelke), set out on this exploratory adventure, which mixes scientific facts with imaginary worlds. Jules Verne was considered the father of Science Fiction and predicted some important discoveries such as the trip to the moon and the submarine.


Walking, from Henry David Thoreau

In the middle of summer, in the month of July, we suggest taking a break for reflection. Described by the author as "an inner ritual of wisdom and freedom", the book Walking puts us in dialogue with ourselves. It challenges us to situate ourselves in relation to nature, more specifically, at what point, or to what extent, we relate to it. In the 19th century,  H.D. Thoreau senses people's increasing distance from the natural world. For him, being in nature is a return home, a return to freedom. Thoreau, poet, philosopher, naturalist, was also a historian and abolitionist. But what remains of this "Walking on Foot" is, after all, a beautiful lecture on a daily ritual that the author feels unable to miss: walking, towards the meadow, the woods, the forest, the landscape that remains wild.

Night Train to Lisbon, from Pascal Mercier

Changing Life or the Night Train to Lisbon, by Pascal Mercier, literary pseudonym of the philosopher Peter Bieri, former professor of philosophy at the University of Berlin. In August, we suggest following the main character of this best seller, Gregorius, a 57-year-old Greek and Latin teacher. After saving a Portuguese woman from jumping from a bridge in Bern, Gregorius feels compelled to search for and follow strange clues that lead him to a Portuguese book written by Amadeu do Prado, poet and resister during Salazar's military dictatorship. This is how this professor, used to a regimented and monotonous life, becomes obsessed with this doctor's story and decides to take a night train to Lisbon. Night Train to Lisbon became, after the success of this work, an idiomatic expression that means "changing your life". The book was adapted into a film, with many scenes filmed in Lisbon, in places such as Santa Apolónia station, Cais de Belém, Igreja da Cartuxa, Hospital de Sant’Ana and Cemitério dos Prazeres. The success of this book was such that it inspired many foreigners to visit Lisbon in search of Amadeu do Prado. Do you accept the suggestion to see Lisbon from another perspective?

The Great Railway Bazaar, from Paul Theroux

In 2023 we discovered a great travel book author, Paul Theroux; and his fascinating The Great Railway Bazaar. It was September's suggestion. The author had already traveled a lot in his life, but the trip he undertook across Asia on the world's largest trains was the first undertaken with the aim of gathering material to write a book. This book is not, however, a conventional travel book. It is based on Theroux's interaction and dialogues with other passengers he encounters. The author records these conversations and it is these small stories that make up the book and tell us indirectly about the places, as well as some of his ridiculous experiences.

Many of the trains no longer exist today, such as the Orient Express or the Golden Arrow, and the political configuration of the countries it passed through has changed a lot in recent decades, so it is not possible to do the same circuit that Paul Theroux did in the 1990s. 70. However, it is still possible to take some very interesting train journeys across Europe and Asia. An example of this is the Trans-Siberian, still existing today, which crosses Russia, Mongolia and China, crossing the vast Siberian landscapes of tundra, coniferous forests and mountain ranges.

The author also wrote other books that we suggest, such as The Ghost Train to the East (the same journey as the Grand Railway Bazaar but with recent geopolitical changes).


Seven Years in Tibet, from Henrich Harrer

November brought us Seven Years in Tibet. Released in 1952, this autobiographical travel book written by Austrian mountaineer Henrich Harrer is already a classic, popularized by its film adaptation in 1997.

During World War II, the famous mountaineer went on an expedition to the Himalayas, during which he was captured by English military forces and held in a refugee camp in India, from which he managed to escape. Traveling on foot, in the middle of winter, he managed to reach Tibet, the city of Lhasa, the Tibetan administrative and religious capital, where the Dalai Lama resided. The city is located at an altitude of 3,490 meters, at the foot of Mount Gephel, making it one of the highest cities in the world. Lassa means “Place of the Gods” and is considered the cradle of Buddhism. The Potala Palace, residence of the Dalai Lama, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Jokhang, an important Buddhist temple and place of pilgrimage.

Henrich Harrer stayed in Tibet for 7 years, learned the language and became a friend and preceptor of the Dalai Lama. During his stay, he recorded an important historical period for Tibet, before it was invaded by the Chinese People's Liberation Army in 1950. Even today, as we know, Tibet is considered an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China, and the Dalai Lama continues to try to peacefully resolve the Tibet issue.

Scientific Tourism in Portugal - A Guide, from Rui Cardoso

Arriving in December, our reading suggestion was the book Scientific Tourism in Portugal - a guide. We thought it would be a good book to give this season.

The author, Rui Cardoso, is a journalist for Expresso, responsible for various hotel and restaurant guides, and traveled the various regions of our country for many years. In this book you will find a very complete itinerary, organized by regions and municipalities, alphabetically, with suggestions for visits linked to scientific tourism in Portugal: museums, parks, gardens, planetariums, caves and other spaces, also including all the Ciência Viva Centers.

For those interested in science, this is an easy-to-use guide, indicating its location, history and online address for each location. The author also includes useful suggestions for planning some trips, even with family.

And so ends our "review" of the travel literature we enjoyed sharing with you last year. We hope we have inspired you with books & walks.

See you soon!

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