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Destination Reads: The Best Books for a Great British Holiday

Posted on 16th June 2021 by Mark Skinner

From the wildness of the Scottish Highlands to the grandeur of the Welsh Valleys, and from the rugged Irish coast to the spendour of the English countryside, there are more than enough wonderful destinations to satiate those hungry to discover the rich variety of the British Isles. Covering guidebooks, travel writing and immersive history, here are our top reading picks for a holiday in the British Isles. 

 
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Stonehenge, Stratford-upon-Avon and so much more besides; discover the riches of England’s counties with the definitive travel guide boasting up-to-date information on accommodation, travel and local culture.
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Packed full of independent reviews, detailed maps and richly researched history, get the most out of your holiday to Scotland with the globally renowned Rough Guide series.
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The stunning landscape and centuries of vibrant culture are exhaustively covered in this fully illustrated guide to where to visit, stay and avoid in Wales.

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From the urban bustle of Dublin to the wild grandeur of Skellig Michael, explore Ireland’s many evocative wonders with the last word in travel advice and cultural information.
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One of the quintessential pieces of British travel writing, Bryson’s wry, perceptive observations on his adoptive country provoke both guffaws of hilarity and winces of recognition – often within the same sentence.
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For Raynor Winn and her husband Moth, the cruellest of diagnoses and the simultaneous collapse of their business opens an unexpected door to salvation through a journey which over its length transforms into a sweeping narrative of inner courage and nature’s ability to heal.
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Traversing 39 counties and one capital city, the acclaimed travel writer teases out what makes every location so gloriously unique in a highly entertaining and informative guide to the eccentricities and idiosyncrasies of Albion.
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Boasting a new introduction from Ian Rankin, Banks’ classic travelogue is suffused with love for both fine whisky and the poetry of the Scottish landscape.
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A wonderful idea for all perambulating bibliophiles, Boland’s handsomely presented volume outlines a host of walks across the most beautiful and culturally resonant areas of Britain connected by a series of similarly wonderful bookshops.
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Rich in local flavour, Ned Palmer takes a delightfully esoteric trip around the British Isles in pursuit of the quintessential British cheeses - and what they say about our national story.
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The seminal travel writer delivers the definitive tribute to her home country, blending history, folklore, landscape and culture into an exquisitely written and rounded portrayal of the myriad wonders of Wales.
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The progenitor of the drunken-bet-travelogue-adventure is still the funniest and most charming of them all, as the popular comedian makes his hilarious way around the Emerald Isle getting into all manner of scrapes with his trusty kitchen appliance.
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A brilliantly accomplished mix of powerful memoir and revelatory nature writing, Sethi’s account of finding solace in the Northern countryside following a traumatic racial attack is a defiant act of reclamation and an astonishing piece of testimony.
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A riotous, engaging and dynamic journey around Scotland in the genial company of Outlander stars, Heughan and McTavish, Clanlands is a vibrant travelogue that explores both the traditions of the past and the promise of the future.
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The Poet Laureate walks the Pennine Way back to front, dispensing poetry readings as he goes, in this endearing, eye-opening account of Northern community and English landscape rendered in wonderfully readable prose.
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Across four walks through areas of stunning English countryside, Harrison crafts a beautiful synthesis of nature writing and cultural commentary that analyses our obsession with the weather and what it says about us as a nation.
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From Wigan Pier to the Lake District, the author of Cider with Roadies interrogates notions of ‘the North’ with his typical ready wit, warmth and memorable turn of phrase.
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From Geoffrey Chaucer to Zadie Smith, Taggart’s wide-ranging tour of British literature’s rich and varied heritage takes in some of the most iconic destinations in the British Isles as well as some lesser-known treasures.
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From the author of the bestselling The Shortest History of Germany comes a bracing trot through the story of England that makes a complex history wonderfully accessible and throws up many connections and revelations hitherto unexplored.
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Written with the vim and accessibility that are a hallmark of the historian’s presenting style, A History of Scotland debunks myths, celebrates neglected events and provides pithy and page-turning pen portraits of the nation’s favourite figures.
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From Roman hill forts to twentieth century miners, Davies' pacey, enlightening history tells the full, remarkable Welsh story with wit and brio.
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Covering the Great Famine, the struggle for Irish independence and many more pivotal events in modern Irish history, Gibney's authoritative and accessible work is the finest single volume history of the period available.
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The definitive history of Britain’s troubled history with the people of Africa and the Caribbean, Olusoga’s account begins in the Roman era and takes in Elizabethan ‘blackamoors’ and the horrors of the slave trade as well as the author’s own childhood memories of racism and prejudice.
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No other book gets under the skin of the English quite so effectively as Kate Fox's bestselling masterwork and this updated edition provides even more data and eye-opening findings to explain a myriad quirks and eccentricities.
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Tracing a path through the capital from prehistory to the London Olympics, Jenkins breezy and accessible volume tells an enthralling story of expansion, progress and hubris played out either side of the River Thames.
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Charting a nostalgic path through those idyllic weeks between June and September, British Summer Time Begins is an elegiac exploration of the mid-century summer holidays in the UK.
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