Summersdale is an independent publisher of non-fiction titles including humour, travel writing, self help and general interest. I do find it a nice break to read non-fiction now and then, especially if it gives me ideas for holidays! Here’s a few of my picks out of their January – June 2013 catalogue.

Extreme Sleeps: Adventures of a Wild Camper by Phoebe Smith
April: paperback

Having spent a lot of my childhood holidays in tents, this one appeals to me. I don’t really do camping any more but it does have a certain sense of adventure that staying in a hotel doesn’t. Plus it’s always nice to be reminded that we have amazing countryside right on our doorstep.

Woolloomooloo, veteran globe trotter Phoebe Smith sets out to prove that the extreme camping experiences available in the UK could rival anything found elsewhere in the world. In this sometimes scary, frequently funny and intriguing journey around the country, Phoebe attempts to discover and conquer its wildest places. From spending the night in the decaying wreckage of a World War Two bomber at Bleaklow to pitching next to the adrenaline-inducing sheer drops of Lizard Point, Phoebe’s extreme sleeps defies her perceptions of the great outdoors and teach her about herself along the way.

The Hotel on the Roof of the World by Alec le Sueur
January: paperback

Yaks! It just sounds bloody entertaining and is set in a unique and stunning place to boot.

Few foreigners are lucky enough to set foot on Tibetan soil, but Alec Le Sueur spent five extraordinary years there, working in the unlikeliest Holiday Inn in the world.

Against the breathtaking beauty of the Himalayas unfolds a highly amusing and enlightening account of his experiences, from fly infestations at state banquets, unexpected deliveries of live snakes, a predominance of yaks and everything yak related, insurmountable communication problems to a dead guest.

Le Sueur, the only Westerner since the days of Heinrich Harrer to spend so long in Tibet, provides a fascinating insight into a country that was only just opening up to the outside world, from what can only be described as the ‘Fawlty Towers’ of Lhasa.

Oscar the Bionic Cat
March: paperback

Yes, there are many cat and dog books floating around these days but this one’s bionic! I have seen a few episodes of The Bionic Vet and it is astonishing the lengths people go to, to save their beloved pets.

I popped into the newsagent and there on the front page of our local daily newspaper was a picture of Oscar with the caption ‘Meet the world’s first bionic cat’, with the full story appearing inside headed up, ‘Puss in bionic boots’. I bought ten copies. The man in the shop looked at me quizzically. ‘That’s my cat!’ When Kate Allan’s beloved black cat, Oscar, is found lying severely injured in a field near their Jersey home, she is sure the accident-prone boy has met his end. With both hind legs severed by a combine harvester, Oscar’s life hangs in the balance; luckily for him, his vet knows Noel Fitzpatrick, star of BBC One’s The Bionic Vet. Noel agrees to try pioneering surgery on Oscar to replace his legs with specially created prosthetics. Against all odds, Oscar comes back from the brink to become the world’s very first bionic cat, and a feline celebrity.

Canoeing the Congo by Phil Harwood
May: paperback

Wow this just sounds like an amazing experience and a journey few people experience. Except through the magic of books of course.

At 2,922 miles, the Congo is the eighth longest river and the deepest in the world, with a flow rate second only to the Amazon. Ex-Marine Phil Harwood embarked on an epic solo journey from the river’s true source in the highlands of Zambia through war-torn Central Africa. With no outside help whatsoever he faced swamps, waterfalls, man-eating crocodiles, hippos, aggressive snakes and spiders’ webs the size of houses. He collapsed from malaria, and was arrested, intimidated and chased. On one stretch, known as ‘The Abattoir’ for its history of cannibalism and reputation for criminal activity, the four brothers he hired as bodyguards were asked by locals, ‘Why haven’t you cut his throat yet?’ But he also received tremendous hospitality from proud and brave people long forgotten by the Western world, especially friendly riverside fishermen who helped wherever they could on Phil’s exhilarating and terrifying five-month journey.

No Fixed Abode: A 21st Century Tramp by Charlie Carroll
June: paperback

After my disappointment in reading A Street Cat Named Bob, this sounds like a wonderful approach to understanding more about those who sleep rough on our streets.

In the summer of 2011, Charlie found the school he worked at could not afford to renew his teaching contract. With no job and no money, but suddenly all the time in the world, he decided to travel from Cornwall to London in a peculiarly old-fashioned, quintessentially English and remarkably cheap way – as a tramp, on foot, sleeping rough.

The journey was filled with colour, surprise and danger, and a range of memorable encounters – from Stan who once saved a boy from being raped but whose homelessness stemmed from a paralysing addiction, to I Am, the one-handed Rastafarian who lived in a tent on Parliament Square. With a striking mix of travel and current affairs writing, No Fixed Abode sheds light on a side of the UK few ever see from within.

Summersdale have some fantastic sounding travel titles on their back list so if you enjoy travel writing, do check out their website.

View catalogue online.

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