Tag Archives: audiobook

awol on the appalachian trail

Awol on the Appalachian Trail written by David Miller and read by Christopher Lane

From Audible:

In 2003, software engineer David Miller left his job, family, and friends to hike 2,172 miles of the Appalachian Trail. AWOL on the Appalachian Trail is Miller’s account of this thru-hike from Georgia to Maine. Listeners are treated to rich descriptions of the Appalachian Mountains, the isolation and reverie, the inspiration that fueled his quest, and the rewards of taking a less conventional path through life. While this book abounds with introspection and perseverance, it also provides useful passages about hiking gear and planning. This is not merely a travel guide; it is a beautifully written and highly personal view into one man’s journey and the insights gained by abandoning what is comfortable and routine.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

I listened to this straight after “Journeys North” and I think it would have been more enjoyable with a gap between the two. It’s also the very first AT based audiobook for me and it seems that the PCT is a much more diverse adventure and also seems to attract a more interesting participant. This means that while the author is interesting and has his own good back story those around him seem less so. Again this could be due to comparing everyone to Journeys North.

I did enjoy the writing style of the story which kept it tipping along at a steady pace. He also provided a lot of information about the AT itself and I felt that I knew it much better at the end compared to Bill Bryson’s book which was more about his experience than the actual trail.

At a similar age to the author I found great admiration for how he was able to recognise the way his career was affecting his mental health and happiness and was able to change the script of his life with the incredible support of his wife. I was really glad he filled us in at the end on how he returned to real life once again.

My only regret with this book is that I should have listened to it before Journeys North.

Header image source: fossbytes.com

the farthest shore

The Farthest Shore by Alex Roddie (Read by Alex Wingfield)

From Audible:

In February 2019, award-winning writer Alex Roddie left his online life behind when he set out to walk 300 miles through the Scottish Highlands, seeking solitude and answers. In leaving the chaos of the internet behind for a month, he hoped to learn how it was truly affecting him – or if he should look elsewhere for the causes of his anxiety.

The Farthest Shore is the story of Alex’s solo trek along the remote Cape Wrath Trail. As he journeyed through a vanishing winter, Alex found answers to his questions, learnt the nature of true silence, and discovered frightening evidence of the threats faced by Scotland’s wild mountain landscape.

My Rating: ⭐⭐

I came across this book from a recommendation on Splodz Blogz a couple of weeks ago. Having just finished Wild and watched YouTuber Haze Outdoors’ videos of  walking the Cape Wrath Trail I thought it would be right up my street.

This author and Haze Outdoors definitely seem to be very different characters but I was still surprised by the differences in how the two people approached the walk and their experiences on it. Haze very much camped for the majority of the trail and also immersed himself in the experience, the land and devoted his story to the experience of completing the trail. Roddie on the other hand used this book to talk more about his motivation for walking the trail and his own very personal experience which was more about a changing outlook on life that happened along the trail. He made extensive use of bothies along the trail rather than relying on camping and took almost 3 times as long. That was probably a consequence of the different times of year as much as the different walkers.

As I was expecting more of a trail story I was a bit disappointed by this book. I was expecting and hoping for something more like the aforementioned Wild or even The Last Englishman but didn’t get it. I thought that the book was written more as a way to justify the author’s expedition and to fund the cost of it. Now, that is his career and I can understand the need for it, but I think this was more of a personal journey that didn’t need to be a book. While I have sympathy for his struggles with anxiety I couldn’t help but feel that much of it was either self-imposed by his view of social media or coming from a totally unrelated source. Maybe if I had a similar struggle I could have related and empathised more.

I also struggled with the overly flowery language he used. It reminded me of Steve Backshall’s book Expedition that I eventually gave up on. This author had the same tendency to over describe the most normal of occurrences. Everything seemed to be the most wonderful or the most terrible rather than just depicting it as it was. His occasional forays into a very mystical view of nature and wildlife left me rolling my eyes and tempted to switch off.

This is the author’s second book based on walking The Cape Wrath Trail. It’s possible he didn’t want to rehash the story of the original but for me this approach simply didn’t land. I think I’d like to try his first book though and see what it’s like and how they differ.

Header image source: fossbytes.com

wild

Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Read by Laurel Lefkow

From Audible:

A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an 1100-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe and built her back up again. At 22, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. After her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State – alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than an idea: vague, outlandish, and full of promise. But it was a promise of piecing together a life that had come undone. Strayed faces rattlesnakes and bears, intense heat and record snowfalls, and both the beauty and intense loneliness of the trail.

Wild vividly captures the terrors and pleasures of forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is an excellent story! The summary above tells you enough about Cheryl’s life that she self-destructed after her Mother’s death but she writes a very eloquent and honest story about the details and what walking the PCT meant for her. I loved how she mixed in her past life story with the PCT story, it gave so much more depth to it all. This isn’t really a story about the PCT. It does provide a lot of details of the walk itself but it’s more a personal journey set on the PCT.

The narrator is also excellent. I still struggle a little with the convention of imitating voices and accents for characters but it doesn’t take away from the fact that she tells this story with warmth and passion as much as if it was her own story.

Stop reading this review and go listen to the book!

Header image source: fossbytes.com

catch up

I’ve been very quiet on here recently and although it’s been 3 weeks since I last posted it doesn’t mean that life has been quiet, quite the opposite in fact.

The last two weeks have been pretty momentous from a personal perspective. It’s all been very surreal but also very positive but I’m going to be annoyingly enigmatic and park that one for a little while yet. More details over the next couple of weeks but it’s consumed my time and thoughts for most of the last two weeks…

Shortly after my last post I took my buff for a proper walk and ticked off another of my 50 nearest summits by climbing Altnapaste. This is a hill I’ve been looking forward to for a while now and I had almost the perfect day for a hugely enjoyable walk.

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I hope to write more about that soon as I also filmed the walk and have some footage to edit and post also.

Last week I had a good long walk around the local roads and laneways. I left it quite late in the day so was short on daylight but stopped in the forest and made myself a hot chocolate as the last of the daylight faded. It was a really enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon especially with a head that needed emptying out for a while.

view original post on strava

I also decided to take my camera on that walk and made a video for YouTube. I’m still learning and it’s far from perfect but the link is below if you want to have a look.

I’m still trying to work out why I’m doing the YouTube videos. I don’t fully understand my motivation for them. I don’t expect to be a YouTube star (although humble beginnings and all that) and I don’t have any great insights to impart but so far I am enjoying the extra element it brings to days out as well as the editing and post production process. As long as that stays true I think I’ll keep at it.

Despite my lack of book reports I’ve kept reading. I finished a very good book called The Gold Coast by Nelson DeMille that took me just over a week to read. I’m a pretty fast reader so this was one of the longest books I’ve read for a while. It continues the trend of reading books that I have read before but many years ago.

My current read is a new author for me and it’s the first in a series. The Northern Lights by Philip Pullman. So far I’m enjoying it even though it was written for a much younger reader than me!

I’ve also started listening to audiobooks on my daily commute again. I recently finished Wild by Cheryl Strayed which was mentioned in an Outside Magazine article mentioned by another blogger (Reg Spittle: Books and my Backpack). This was a fantastic story and I’ll definitely give a more detailed review of that soon.

So, that’s been the last 3 weeks for me, 3 more and Xmas will be past. Hard to believe that we’ll finally be saying goodbye to 2021 soon and hopefully welcoming in a more enjoyable 2022…

Header image by Mike from Pexels

the moneyless man

The Moneyless Man by Mark Boyle, read by David Thorpe

From Audible:

Imagine a year without spending – or even touching – money. Former businessman Mark Boyle did just that and here is his extraordinary story. Going back to basics and following his own strict rules, Mark learned ingenious ways to eliminate his bills and discovered that good friends are all the riches you need.

Encountering seasonal foods, solar panels, skill-swapping schemes, cuttlefish toothpaste, compost toilets, and – the unthinkable – a cash-free Christmas, Boyle puts the fun into frugality and offers some great tips for economical (and environmentally friendly) living. A testament to Mark’s astounding determination, this witty and heart-warming book will make you re-evaluate your relationship to your wallet.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

This is the first book that Mark Boyle wrote and the start of his journey that culminated in his living completely without technology as well as money. This was covered in a previous review of The Way Home.

I did enjoy listening to this and definitely didn’t find it boring. However, I felt it was a bit light on the day to day details of life without money. The main reason for writing the book was to promote the Freeconomy concept and to encourage others to give it a try and get involved. He spends a lot of time explaining the Freeconomy concept and the ethos behind it as well as giving tips and information. He also goes into detail why he feels that society needs to change. He doesn’t come across as preachy in any way and does a good job of promoting the lifestyle but I was expecting something more along the lines of his other book and was disappointed not to get the details of life without money.

The best section for me was describing how he managed to get from Bristol to Donegal for Xmas without spending money or compromising his ideals. This involved an appearance on RTE’s Grainne Seoige Show. The narrator is English and it did make me giggle listening to him trying to pronounce her surname. I think I heard at least 4 different attempts and none of them correct!

The narrator was good but had a slightly irreverent tone throughout the whole book. This suited the early chapters that are written in a very self-deprecating style but I found it a bit jarring in some of the more serious later sections.

Overall a good book and I’d recommend reading it before The Way Home.

Finally, I only realised this morning that I saw Mark Boyle being interviewed on The Tommy Tiernan Show a few months ago. The video clip below is short piece of that interview.

Header image source: fossbytes.com

inspire: life lessons from the wilderness

Inspire: Life Lessons From The Wilderness by Ben Fogle

From Audible:

The latest adventure from best-selling author Ben Fogle explores what we can learn from nature about living well and living wild. 

What can rowing across the Atlantic teach us about boredom and about patience? Can coming down from Everest take more resilience than climbing up in the first place? How can the isolation of the South Pole highlight what’s most important? And how can we tap into the same reflective state in our daily lives? 

Writing during the unprecedented period of the coronavirus pandemic and drawing on a wealth of personal stories, Ben reflects on the significance of nature to all our lives and shows us how we can benefit from living a little more wild. Drawing on his greatest adventures, he shares what his time spent in the wilderness has taught him about life. Ranging across seas, icecaps, jungles and deserts, Ben’s stories are filled with wonder and struggle, with animals, adventure, wilderness, friendships, unexpected acts of kindness and heroism, and are bursting with inspiration directly from nature. Ben’s epic stories reveal a new side to his adventures and show how everyone can find meaning in the wilderness, even if it’s just outside their front door. 

Full of exciting adventures and practical guidance, this primer on positivity is a story about overcoming obstacles, surpassing your expectations and inspiring your journey of adventure. 

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

I must confess that I knew very little about Ben Fogle before I read this. I knew he rose to prominence because of the BBC series Castaway and that he had done some TV presenting including Countryfile. I was totally unaware of the amount of TV he has done though and had no idea of his achievements by rowing the Atlantic, taking part in the Marathon Des Sables or climbing Mount Everest.

Anytime I’ve seen him on TV I’ve liked his laid back style and lack of arrogance. On TV he comes across as confident and happy so it was interesting that he has fought against imposter syndrome and self esteem issues for most of his life. This is a very honest book and probably wouldn’t have been written only for the Covid19 lockdown.

I particularly enjoyed the second half of the book from when he talked about the Wild Folk. This was also my favourite chapter of the book and I was pleased to see Mark Boyle get a mention too. I didn’t know of the TV series that he made and will be making an effort to get a chance to watch it.

I’m not really sure about the title of the book. I don’t really think it’s written to inspire and it sounds a lot more pretentious than it is. The secondary title “Life Lessons From the Wilderness” is much more accurate and the biggest lesson for me was the impact of taking yourself away from the stresses of modern life, even for shorter periods of time. I’ve found the benefits of this recently myself.

The book is also read by Fogle and unlike Steve Backshall’s audiobook this time it worked really well. The writing styles and personalities of the two are very dissimilar though.

Header image source: fossbytes.com

my outdoor life

My Outdoor Life by Ray Mears, narrated by Simon Shepherd.

From Audible:

Ray Mears is a household name through his television series Tracks, World of Survival, Bushcraft Survival, The Real Heroes of Telemark, and many more.

He is a private individual who shuns publicity whenever possible and would prefer to let his many skills tell their own tale – until now.

In My Outdoor Life, Ray tells of his childhood and the formative years when he first developed a passion for both bushcraft and the martial arts skills that are central to his life. Having travelled the world several times over, he is no stranger to risk and has had more than his fair share of dangerous and life-threatening encounters to share with his listeners. But his life is so much more than a tale of derring-do. Shortly after he returned to England having narrowly survived a serious helicopter crash, his father died. Just a year later, he had to face the death of his first wife, Rachel. The book conveys the many sides of Ray Mears, taking us up to the present day – including the previously untold story of his involvement in the man-hunt for murderer Raoul Moat. My Outdoor Life gives us all a chance to share a life story as rich and as inspirational as a walk in woods with the man himself, Ray Mears.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I absolutely loved this! I also believe that I enjoyed it more as an audiobook than I would have if I’d read it as a regular book.

It’s a pretty much no-holds-barred insight into the life of someone that has lived both a public life and a very private life. With this book he gives a very frank, honest and detailed explanation of his life from an early age right up to the present (at the time of writing).

It did take a little bit of getting used to the narrator’s voice. He has a very proper English accent and tone of voice which adds a layer of pomposity at times that I don’t think is intentional from the author. Ray Mears is a supremely confident man, very clear in his morals and beliefs and totally unafraid to voice them and to hold himself and others to his exacting standards. Hearing his views in the narrator’s accent can cause this to be misinterpreted at times.

I particularly liked how he described the most difficult times in his life. The death of his first wife is harrowingly described as is the aftermath. Also the death of his father and the impact it had on him. However, he is also incredibly enthusiastic about the good times, meeting his second wife, surviving the helicopter crash, living with and learning from many different indigenous peoples of the world.

I started listening to audiobooks via Audible using a link from a YouTube channel I watch called TAOutdoors. This link will get you one month free access and two free downloads: audible.com/taoutdoors If you use it I’d highly recommend that you give this one a go even if you have no interest in the outdoors, bushcraft or even know who Ray Mears is!

Header image source: fossbytes.com

we’re alive

We’re Alive Season 1 by Modern Myth Productions

From Audible:

This exciting audio drama is based on an immensely popular podcast that has received hundreds of positive reviews and has had over four million downloads – and counting.


For Army Reserve soldier Michael Cross, the world as he knows it ends in an instant. One minute he’s in college, and the next rioters are roaming the highway around him, breaking into cars and literally tearing people apart. This is the day the dead walk. This is the world of We’re Alive.


The first season features 12 chapters packing performances and sound effects that rival movies and prove that modern audio drama is undead and well. Join our survivors as they band together, struggle to fortify a safe haven known as the Tower, and discover that zombies are far from the worst thing in a post apocalyptic Los Angeles, where the rules of human decency no longer apply.


Little food. Little water. Little hope. Who is lucky enough to say “We’re Alive”?

My Rating: ⭐

Having had great success with my first audiobook and having enjoyed a few podcasts last year I thought this might be a good mix of the two. In addition I usually like zombie horror stories.

I really wanted to like this but just couldn’t. At 4 hrs in I decided to cut my losses and pulled the pin. Dislikable and annoying characters, forced and wooden acting, storylines full of plot holes and a sub standard copy of “The Walking Deadjust about summed it up for me. Don’t waste your time and definitely don’t waste your money. I got this with a free credit on Audible but it costs £20 normally. I really don’t understand why it has been so popular and how it managed 5 seasons!

Header image source: fossbytes.com