A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush, by Eric Newby
Stories are what set me on my odyssey; books transported me from my childhood bedroom in Staffordshire to exotic corners of the world. Eric Newby set a new bar for travel writing in the mid-20th century. He hilariously narrated his adventures in Afghanistan, treating a climbing expedition to the summit of Mir Samir like a walk in the park. I love his style and self-effacement.
Richard Francis Burton
Burton was probably the greatest of all the Victorian explorers. He was a passionate anthropologist who was utterly fearless and got truly stuck in. He spoke 27 languages. I think we’d have had a lot of fun adventuring together; we share the same passion for meeting new people and experiencing new cultures.
The Grand Tour
Not the Amazon series! I studied the history of travel writing at university and was fascinated by this phenomenon of young Britons travelling around Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries. I read the personal diaries of eccentrics like James Boswell and realised that what they got up to wasn’t all that different from the gap-year youngsters of today.
The Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius
Marcus Aurelius, aka the “philosopher king,” is one of antiquity’s greatest thinkers, and his lessons in The Meditations are wise, inspiring and full of foresight; for example, “You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.