Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Since I moved into a new apartment a couple of months ago, which is across the street from a very cool Library, I have made a commitment to start borrowing books instead of buying them (at least part of the time). I recently figured out how to borrow e-books and download them onto my Kobo e-reader - cool, huh?

I love books and I love new books, but buying them can be hard on the wallet if you go through them quickly like I do (I read on the bus every day - to work and home - so I sometimes can finish a book in a week's commute. A new book every week? Yeah, not in the budget).

On my very first trip to the Library after making this commitment, I found a little gem in the travel book section that has become one of my new favourites - Adrift in Caledonia:

I had never heard of Nick Thorpe before so I wasn't sure when I picked it off the shelf if I would like his writing, but the story certainly sounded 'up my alley'. It turns out I did enjoy his writing - very much so - and the story more than I even thought I would. Basically, Nick is an Englishman living in Glasgow, Scotland and he decides to take a trip around the entire country (2,500 miles!) entirely by hitching rides on boats (hence "boat-hitching"). And hitch rides he does - he travels on everything from rowboats, submarines, fishing boats, ferries and kayaks - every kind of boat you can imagine really, on every kind of waterway you can picture (I had no idea that Scotland has an entire system of canals!). Although some sections of his trip were pre-planned, most of the time he literally (and bravely) has to walk up to people he doesn't know and 'bum' rides. He has to completely rely on the kindness and open-mindedness of yachters, rowers, fishermen, and sailors to complete his trip, and he even has to help crew some of the vessels. Fortunately for him, this allows him to pick up snippets of their 'stories', and the personalities and experiences of these people are what gives the book its real heart.

This book not only fed my wanderlusty soul with the whimsy and romance of a long-distance trip, but it also instilled in me a newfound respect for people who make their living on the water (NOT a cushy existence in most cases). As someone who has lived their entire life next door to the ocean, I understand the pull that the water enacts. There is something simultaneously magical and scary about being on the water - it has a kind of mystical power and beauty that is very exciting, although you know it could turn ugly on a dime. It's hard to explain if you are not someone who has grown up by the ocean, but I definitely get it.

I have some Scottish heritage and have always wanted to visit this country, but before reading this book I would never have thought of exploring it by boat. I hope I get to have a seafaring adventure in the home of my ancestors someday like Nick did, but in the meantime I was able to do so vicariously thanks to this wonderful book.

If you like books about sailing, boating, travel and/or journeys than you should read this one. If I can find it at the Library, I think I'll read his other story Eight Men and a Duck (a voyage to Easter Island in a reed boat?! That is just crazy enough to be awesome!).

His latest book Urban Warrior sounds great too. Sigh, so many books, so little time.

Have you read a book recently that really spoke to you? What are your favourite type of books to read? Do you prefer to buy or borrow books?


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