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Books to get excited about

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Photo: John Coefield

Jon Barton gives a whistle-stop tour of Vertebrate's book publishing programme over the coming months.

‘I just climb small rocks.’ So said Ben Moon in his recent interview with Radio 4’s Libby Purvis. Ben was talking about his recently published biography, Statement, written by Ed Douglas – our first book of 2015.

We like small rocks here, and they don’t get much smaller than the quintessential pebbles giving Churnet Bouldering, our second new title of the year, its unique character (see right). The Churnet Valley might not get as much attention as many neighbouring bouldering venues in the Peak District, but it’s a magical place with some quality climbing. We hope producing this guide will enable more people to get acquainted with its charms.  

Continuing to experience new places and seek fresh inspiration is important to us. This year we want to explore more, climb higher, peddle longer, sail further and delve deeper; our publishing programme for the next twelve months is a reflection of these ambitions. Books like Alastair Lee’s Lake District Mountain Landscape reveal familiar landscapes from revelatory new perspectives, and serve as a reminder that, however well you think you know a place, nature is never-ending in its capacity to astonish. If you want to get out and experience the majesty of the Lake District for yourself, Steve Goodwin’s lovingly crafted Lake District Climbs and Scrambles is a new guidebook that we hope will guide the intrepid in their exploration of the area.

The Lakeland hills are a perfect training ground for forays further afield. Just jump across the channel to the Continent and a whole world of mountain-based adventure awaits. With this in mind, we’ve been working on our Selected Climbs series, to which we’re adding new volumes covering areas like Mont Blanc and the Aiguilles Rouges, the Swiss Alps and the Pyrenees. If you’re heading to the Alps with your bike, take a look at Alps Mountain Biking – it’s out this May and has some of the best MTB trails in the region.

One of Vertebrate’s priorities is to capture real-life stories of intrepid ‘off-the-beaten-track’ adventures so that they might inform and inspire our readers. May kicks off the first of such stories for 2015: The Storms is Mike Trueman’s in-depth account of twenty expeditions to the Himalaya, including his personal experience of the tragic 1996 Everest storm. And June sees the result of Sandy Allan sitting down long enough to write about the mind-boggling first ascent of Nanga Parbat’s Mazeno Ridge. The book, In Some Lost Place (right), charts his incredible tale of survival against the odds. Make sure you sign up to our enewsletter to get advance notification of the special edition copies that we’ll be doing.

We have two more books on the horizon that are based in the high mountains. The first is a new edition of Norton’s 1924 expedition book, The Fight For Everest, when of course Mallory and Irvine were lost. We’ve been working very closely over the last couple of years with members of Norton’s family, and the families of the expedition’s other members. We hope to produce something very special – true to the original book, but with a lot of previously unseen letters, diaries and sketches from the trip.

Plus (drumroll) this year will see the release of Doug Scott’s autobiography. To be published in two volumes, the first of which is out this September, it charts Doug’s childhood and early expeditions, and runs right up to the 1975 ascent of Everest. Again, watch this space for news of some very special limited edition copies. Also this autumn, back by popular demand, will be the first of a series of new editions of H.W. Tilman’s books. The first two, Snow on the Equator and the sailing epic Mischief in Patagonia, are due out on 1 September.

If it’s inspirational cycling stories you’re after, then consider this: at the time of writing nobody has ridden further in a year than Tommy Godwin did … in 1939. His record of 75,065 miles has stood for over 75 years. But, with a current attempt being made on Tommy’s record, maybe that will have changed by the time we publish Dave Barter’s The Cycling Year Record. The result of the author’s incredible passion for cycling and diligent research, this book lays bare the truths, the lies, and the ups and downs of this quite phenomenal challenge.

As autumn arrives, a gentler, but equally passionate, enthusiasm can be found in the images of Christine Gregory. Christine has been out photographing and writing about Britain’s water voles – a captivating creature, but one facing a perilous future as human activity encroaches on its dwindling habitat. If you haven’t seen Christine’s images, take a quick look at her website – a real celebration of our native wildlife and landscape.

We’ll round off the year with something for younger adventurers: Matt Dickinson (right) is finishing the second instalment of his teen fiction series, Everest Files: Killer Storm, and the very talented fiction writer Sarah Mussi has written what we hope will be the first of many books for us, Here Be Dragons, due out in September.

So there you have it: a whistle-stop tour of our upcoming publishing programme. Happy reading – we hope you’ll enjoy a Vertebrate book or two over the coming months. 

To be the first to hear about new books, offers and limited editions, sign up to the Vertebrate enewsletter via the box on our homepage.

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