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What we’re reading: March 2017

One woman, two wheels, and an infinite amount of nerve: Lois Pryce goes in search of the real Iran by motorbike

What we’re reading: March 2017

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When other road users in Iran appear to be trying to kill you, rob you or kidnap you, normally they just want to feed you.’ Such is the no-nonsense tone of this Iranian travelogue, painting a vivid picture of an otherwise much maligned country as a nation not of terrorists, but of partiers, poets and dedicated picnickers.

That’s not to say it’s preachy — it’s rather a self-motivating pep talk by Lois, the motorbike-riding author of this book, about her overland adventure across Iran. This is a proper travelogue. It’s the sort of story that, had she been in possession of a motorbike licence, Freya Stark may have written on her 19th century travels through Iran. Lois follows the legendary lady traveller’s path across mountains and cities, small scruffy towns and magnificent Silk Road settlements. She encounters the sort of shining hospitality, cultural inclusion and inspirational joie de vivre that Stark famously found here as a lone female traveller well over a century ago. It’s a very Iranian human spirit — all the more humbling in today’s age of fearsome Islamic Republic repression.

Our biker has to contend with riding in hijab and helmet, going off-road, off-map and repeatedly ploughing into the unknown. Lois simply gets on with things and the result is a joyful, moving and stereotype-busting travel tale.

Revolutionary Ride, On The Road In Search Of The Real Iran, by Lois Pryce. RRP: £14.99 (Nicholas Brealey).

Wise words

The Stanford Travel Book of the Year
Winner of the just-announced 2016 Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year: Interstate, by Julian Sayarer (Arcadia Books), is about a hitchhiking American road trip. With plenty of travel-related writing categories, the Stanford’s shortlisted books are all worth wrapping your eyes around.

The blog
The Daily Overview, a blog-cum-Instagram account posts a different satellite photo of the Earth every day, with a focus on man-made environments that is both a surprisingly beautiful and sobering look at how we are re-shaping our planet. Five hundred of the most arresting images are now available in glossy book format.

The podcast
If the debut episode is anything to go by, new series The Rough Guide to Everywhere looks promising. It features Dervla Murphy’s stories from her 1963 solo cycle from Ireland to India. 

School holiday helpers

The Road School 
Take inspiration for your ‘edu-vacation’ from a family who pulled their kids out of school for an educational backpacking adventure around the world; the latest travel trend comes with the requisite irritating buzzword, but is also an interesting read. RRP: £9.99 (Crown House Publishing).

Alphabet Cities
Alphabet Cities journeys around the world in 32 pullout prints, each inspired by early 20th century travel posters. Illustrator David Doran also includes tidbits of trivia on the way. RRP: £18.99 (Virgin Books).

Fish Boy
This illustrated book is a magical read for young adults. Billy, a bullied teen, prefers swimming to socialising… until one day, he meets a mackerel who blows bubbles in his goggles and says: ‘Fish Boy’. RRP: £9.99 (Faber & Faber).

Published in the April 2017 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)