There is never a better time to catch up on your reading and there is no shortage of great books to read which can entertain and inspire a swimmer. Adventure, nature, swim-specific and old favourites – here is a list of what we will be reading while on lockdown. Don’t forget you can subscribe to the magazine or buy the current issue today. April’s magazine is available for pre-order now.
Losing Eden, Lucy Jones
As outdoor swimmers we don’t need to be told about the benefits of spending time outside, but this book makes a beautiful and well researched case for a wilder way of living. It may seem odd to recommend reading a book about being outside when we are being asked to stay inside, but this isn’t just about great big landscapes and wide-open seas, it is about soil, seeds and birds just outside our windows. It is a lovely read.
Wintering, Katherine May
This book is a great comfort in this period of uncertainty, the timing is serendipitous. It is about how we all need and have inactive periods in life – winters in our human experience. There are lessons on surviving dormant periods, dark moments and change of circumstances all told through Katherine’s personal experiences. There are beautiful passages about swimming in the sea in winter but overall this is a great book for comfort in these difficult times.
Books we loved in 2019…
Mudlarking, Lara Maiklem
Lara describes her mudlarking like time-travelling and reading her book is a bit like that too. She has been mudlarking along the River Thames in London for fifteen years and her book shares her finds from the tidal head at Teddington, down to the Thames Estuary. Her discoveries are tucked into a memoir style narrative and her personal story is much like the treasure she uncovers. Thames swimmers may find it an especially comforting read.
Dark Skies: A Journey into the Wild Night, Tiffany Francis
A lovely easy and short read about the joys of the night-time. It celebrates nocturnal landscapes and our connection to the dark, makes you consider our patterns of sleep and fears at night. It follows Tiffany as she explores her home landscape at night, her experience of the Midnight Sun and encountering the Northern Lights. Might tempt you out for a night walk, which will also help with social distancing exercise.
My Midsummer Morning, Alastair Humphreys
Al Humphreys has a range of books out for both children and adults, ever encouraging us to be adventurous, even on our doorsteps. This book came out last year and on the outside looks like a book about Al’s attempt to busk through Spain without any money and unable to play the violin. But what it is really about is settling down to family life while still being a restless and adventure hungry character. I related to it a lot more than I thought I would.
In the Wake of Mercedes Gleitze, Doloranda Pember
One of my favourite reads and favourite interviews. This book is about the first British woman to swim the English Channel, Mercedes Gleitze. But what makes it wonderful is that it is written by her daughter Doloranda, who barely knew anything about her mother’s swimming career when she was alive. The book documents the remarkable story and how Mercedes showed women they could be strong and deserved recognition for sporting success.
Taking the Plunge, Anna Deacon & Vicky Allan
This is a lovely book to dip in and out of and features gorgeous photography. Full of swimming stories from all sorts of swimmers, this book is about the healing nature of swimming and how much joy it brings. There is practical advice and personal inspiration, but overall is just a great example of the community we love to be part of.
A Boy in the Water, Tom Gregory
This isn’t just another book about another swimmer in the English Channel, it is a wonderful celebration of a moment in time for long-distance swimming. It is about spirit, determination, support, belief. There was so much to be enjoyed in this quick and simple read about a young boy’s dream. It won the William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2018 for good reason.
At the Pond: Swimming at the Hampstead Ladies’ Pond
A lovely collection of stories from London’s famous female pond. If you are a Hampstead Heath swimmer missing your fix, this is a great way to dive back into the energy of the place. Written by different swimmer writers from different perspectives it reflects on the history, seasons and spirit of swimming in the female-only pond.
Butterfly, Yusra Mardini
This one might have passed you by when it came out. It is a true story about how one woman saved fellow refugees from drowning and how she went on to become an Olympic swimmer. It is a great reminder of how ordinary people are thrown into extraordinary circumstances, unimaginable to many. Reading it will give you some grounding for the weeks ahead.