Nice travel writing with an interesting central idea, even if the analogies sometimes feel a bit far-fetched.
Thanks to the publisher, Nicholas Brealey US, and NetGalley for an advanced copy of this book.
This book looks at four "outlandish" environments, or ecosystems that seem out of place where they are. A desert in Spain, a rainforest in Poland, a steppe in Hungary ( I thought this one was a stretch) and an Arctic environment in Scotland. I was interested in the Scotland piece, which began the book, but wasn't interested enough to continue.
This felt like four padded magazine pieces that were put together to form a book. I found the environments themselves interesting, but what the author did with them was not. In the first piece, for example, I was interested in how reindeer were reintroduced to this area of Scotland. I was puzzled, though, since reintroducing species can throw off the balance between the species (deer in this case) that have remained as all of these creatures must now compete for the same food and this was not addressed. The author also briefly mentions conifers being (re) introduced but doesn't touch on the lack of enthusiasm that many people who live in the area have for these particular trees being planted.
The author doesn't want to stick with research and history of these places, so he goes there and walks.= and writes about his jaunts. I didn't find him especially gifted at getting across what it's actually like to pass through these environments and that's a shame because it was a big part of why I wanted to read the book. If the author can't put me there, then he hasn't succeeded in his efforts. I wasn't ever sure just how much common sense he was displaying in these places as he hiked through them either.
Due to a sudden, unexpected passing in the family a few years ago and another more recently and my subsequent (mental) health issues stemming from that, I was unable to download this book in time to review it before it was archived as I did not visit this site for several years after the bereavements. This meant I didn't read or venture onto netgalley for years as not only did it remind me of that person as they shared my passion for reading, but I also struggled to maintain interest in anything due to overwhelming depression. I was therefore unable to download this title in time and so I couldn't give a review as it wasn't successfully acquired before it was archived. The second issue that has happened with some of my other books is that I had them downloaded to one particular device and said device is now defunct, so I have no access to those books anymore, sadly.
This means I can't leave an accurate reflection of my feelings towards the book as I am unable to read it now and so I am leaving a message of explanation instead. I am now back to reading and reviewing full time as once considerable time had passed I have found that books have been helping me significantly in terms of my mindset and mental health - this was after having no interest in anything for quite a number of years after the passings. Anything requested and approved will be read and a review written and posted to Amazon (where I am a Hall of Famer & Top Reviewer), Goodreads (where I have several thousand friends and the same amount who follow my reviews) and Waterstones (or Barnes & Noble if the publisher is American based). Thank you for the opportunity and apologies for the inconvenience
What a truly magical and eye-opening book. I felt as if I was tagging along everywhere he went. I loved this book. It opened up worlds I'd never known and, really, what more can you say in praise of a book ?? 5 Stars !!
This was a highly entertaining travelogue as the author brings us on walks through wilderness where it should not be in Europe. It is a unique concept executed well.
Stunning and breathtaking, Hunt takes you along on this incredible journey that shows absolutely gorgeous landscapes. This book will take you on a global journey right from home. Such an amazing experience reading this book and would recommend this to everybody.
Some very lovely writing about some very unique places that don't always get their due in travel writing.
This is exactly the sort of book I enjoy reading, where I learn a little bit about lots of things. It is a wonderful mixture of travel memoir, natural history, meeting people and learning about their traditions, a smattering of geology, even a little politics. For me personally, there were many things that resonated or triggered memories about my own travels in remote places, though none quite as remote as the Hungarian Steppe or the Spanish desert. It sent me scurrying to the internet to look up photos of the places he visited; it’s amazing what you can find on TripAdvisor! And one of the best things about this particular travel book, is that all these places are accessible to me, too, without flying halfway around the world. The wilderness is not as far away as we are sometimes led to believe.
Nick Hunt’s Outlandish had already been published when I discovered it on NetGalley, but when I downloaded it, there was no archive date. Then one day in March, two of my NetGalley books had dates set for archiving, so suddenly I had to read both within a relatively short space of time. Outlandish was first and I devoured it. Sadly for The Hunt for Mount Everest by Craig Storti, I didn’t manage to finish it before it expired.
As a travel writer, Nick Hunt felt guilty about the environmental damage caused by air travel, so he hatched a plan to travel only to places he could reach by train. Based in the UK, this meant European destinations: The Cairngorms in Scotland, Białowieża forest in Poland, the Tabernas desert in Spain, Hortobágy National Park on the Hungarian steppe. However, in his introduction, he goes to an area which is very familiar to me, Dungeness, a vast windswept area of pebbles next to the sea, with not much to see except a lighthouse and the incredibly unpicturesque Dungeness nuclear power station. Even though Derek Jarman made a famous gravel garden around his cottage and it is the final stop on the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Miniature Railway. It’s more interesting if you’re interested in plants or insects, but as a schoolchild, it had few charms.
For Nick Hunt, it was a “place that tipped me unexpectedly into elsewhere”, as did those other areas he visits in Outlandish. Dungeness is as near to a desert as you can get in the UK. At the other extreme, the Cairngorms are the nearest one can get to permanent glaciers in the UK, with just a few permanent snow patches left, though these may have finally been melted after 2022’s extended heatwaves. Each of the places Hunt visits are just not representative of unexpected landscapes, but also of different times. In some ways, they hark back to prehistoric times, glaciation, primordial forests, cave paintings and ancient traditions. On the other hand, as landscapes change due to human activities and climate change, he is shown what may be our future, with more desertification, melting glaciers, flooding, peculiar weather. Another aspect of his trip is to think about the people and animals who have lived in these landscapes, their traditions and stories of mythical beings. He describes his book as “four small pilgrimages into the imagination.”
Disclaimer: I received this book free as a digital ARC from NetGalley. This review reflects my true opinion of the book.
I usually like travel essays, but I was very bored by this book. I just wasn't interested in the things Hunt wrote about. This was a big disappointment to me. I did like the information about how climate change will impact the areas the author visits, but overall, I probably should have DNFed this instead of reading it all the way to the end.
Amazing! I am heading to Europe next year and have added a few of these places to visit when I am near them. I bet even my foreign family will be surprised to hear of them. Nature puts the most interesting places in the least likely of places so we puny humans will never get bored of exploring! Kudos Nick Hunt for finding these amazing places for all f us explorers and nature lovers!
Nothing quite like a book that makes you itchy to get out there to do some walking. Loved it and it kept me company while I gather my strenght to hopefully do some walking of my own very soon.
Nick Hunt provides a beautifully described journey around Europe's less familiar landscapes, from Arctic tundra in Scotland to grassy steppes of Hungary.
He covers natural history, ecology, folklore, history and travel writing. His writing is evocative of the landscape, weather and conditions that you feel like you're following in his footsteps. A hugely enjoyable book.
Thank you to #Netgalley and #NicholasBrealeypublications for allowing me access to the ARC.
I love travel books, it's half of what got me into reading as an adult so it pains me when I don't love one. I really wish I liked this more than I did. That's not to say it's bad at all, but there were quite a few times I found myself wishing I was done. I really enjoyed bits and pieces of all four parts of it, particularly Hungary, but some of it just really dragged. I absolutely love the concept of the book though and would never have known these strange landscapes could be found in Europe.
The writing is great, and the places are interesting, but I think it would have been better with a couple more locations in the same amount of book. I was also a little disappointed in the Jungle chapter even though II did enjoy it. I was expecting more of a rainforest based on the 'jungle' title but it basically sounds like a regular forest. I found myself liking the travel parts more than the history parts, but that may just be a personal preference.
Overall, I'm glad I read it but I'm also glad I get to move on. I would recommend it if you like travel, geography, and history though.
I fell in love with this book almost immediately. I was worried I would devour it too quickly and not appreciate the author’s writing so I forced myself to pace each chunk of chapters. I share the author’s love of wild spaces and odd wild spaces. I loved learning the history (natural and human) of the areas he visited, and I immensely enjoyed his writing style. Maybe it was because his first story took place in a location that I have longed to visit, and he made me want to book a plane ticket immediately; but it was also his account of his experience: hiking in inclement weather and that tickle in the back of your neck that you aren’t alone. From there I was hooked, and I followed willingly, reflecting on my own experience of hiking in old growth forests alongside the author’s, sweating in the heat of the day in a desert-like climate unable to discern reality from hallucination, and hiking across sweeping grassland and having no sense of progress. In addition to enjoying the author’s writing, I now have a desire to visit these destinations for myself!
This book awakens the traveller within and both creates and fulfils a sense of wanderlust in one go.
We get to explore places that wouldn't appear in a usual traveller book, and thank heavens for that.
I'm lacing up my walking boots and heading out!
Travel writing at its best.
Nick Hunt is a fresh voice in this genre and takes you on a jouney through Scotland, Poland and Spain to paths seldom travelled. He relates his exoeriences to the rather worrying state of global warming, making this book an important work to understand the significance of global warming.
Nick Hunt's writing style creates an immersive experience for the reader.
Gorgeous writing that paints an evocative and life-like picture, dotted with personal reflections and anecdotes from the road.
Travel writing at its finest.
When I started reading this book, it began with the author talking about outlandish places in the UK, and I was a little apprehensive about the scope of the entire book (I did not review the blurb at this time). He then takes off to Europe, and the actual content begins.
The book primarily focuses on places in Europe that are remnants of older landscapes that are not remotely connected to the areas geographically close to them at this time.
I will not list the locations individually, but they include a glacier, a grassland, a forest and a desert. The author provides some backdrop with the history and politics of the places he visits. What threw me off was his flaunting of the rules. In every place he visited, he did something that was generally expressly forbidden, if not just discouraged.
In one place he was staying, they only had the rule that no meat or alcohol should be consumed in the house, which I think is something you agree to live there as a lodger, but he sneaked it in any way. In another, he was supposed to stick to the cleared routes in a forest and not disturb the ecosystem by wandering in non-marked areas, which he promptly did, but luckily didn't go far. The same thing happened in the grasslands as well. He mentions it so nonchalantly that it was quite mystifying for a person like me. I am sure most people would probably agree with him that these small lines can be crossed, but strangely enough, it affected the way I looked at the book.
The writing and the emotions helped me picture the surroundings and imagine the world the author was describing. I will probably never visit these places, but I feel like I got something from this armchair visit. The information is unique and provides a new lens to look at the climatic issues around us. It also factors in political and cultural issues that impact making larger decisions for the better of the environment. The latter parts were quite fascinating and almost entirely new to me.
Apart from the minor issue (a highly personal one at that), I would recommend this book for people who want to read about what has managed to survive despite (and sometimes with the help of) humans in Europe.
I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers, but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.
A non-fiction travel book that takes place in the wilderness. Nick Hunt goes to four locations that are not what you may typically find in Europe. There is the Scottish artic, Poland’s jungle, Hungary’s steppe, and Spain’s desert. Hunt describes why these places are here, the environment but not in a highly scientific manner. We meet people along the way that help Nick or join him with his walks; as that is how he engages with these areas, he walks for hours and hours, days on end. Occasionally, he even ventures to where he shouldn’t or seems not very wise.
I enjoyed the book, the writing style, but was glad there were only four locations. The format for each location was similar, starting out jumping in the middle of this adventure, then backtracking to how he got there and the entire experience while in this unusual place. Happy to have gone along the ride with Nick Hunt.
a lovely book for the armchair traveler to dream about far off places that mainstream wouldn't go to but more isolation spots that sound spectacular, loved the writing style and would give this a great thumbs up