Around the World in 5 Books

Let us take you on a quick trip around the world via these five selected books of fiction with a sense of place that are currently on our shelves here at Stanfords:


by Chukwuebuka Ibeh


Set in: Nigeria

When Obiefuna’s father witnesses an intimate moment between his teenage son and the family’s apprentice, newly arrived from the nearby village, he banishes Obiefuna to a Christian boarding school marked by strict hierarchy and routine, devastating violence. Utterly alienated from the people he loves, Obiefuna begins a journey of self-discovery and blossoming desire, while his mother Uzoamaka grapples to hold onto her favourite son, her truest friend.

Interweaving the perspectives of Obiefuna and his mother Uzoamaka, as they reach towards a future that will hold them both, BLESSINGS is an elegant and exquisitely moving story of love and loneliness. Asking how we can live freely when politics reaches into our hearts and lives, as well as deep into our consciousness, it is a stunning, searing debut.

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Ways to spot a lost path

Guest Blog Post by Jack Cornish

In my recently published book, The Lost Paths, I explore the paths which reach into – and connect – communities across England and Wales. A network of paths which reveal how our ancestors have interacted with and shaped their surroundings over millennia. On the paths I discovered hundreds of stories – tales of love, commerce, death, graft and communication.

There are over 140,000 miles of recorded public rights of way in England and Wales, which started to be proactively and legally recorded from the early 1950s onwards. But tens of thousands more are missing from the maps, lying unclaimed and unprotected. So, as well as a celebration of an ancient network, I hope The Lost Paths will serve as a call to arms to reclaim and save our old paths – to preserve our history on foot. Below are some of my top tips for finding lost paths along with some of the paths that captivated me when writing The Lost Paths.

Look out for old stiles, bridges and fords – Often paths leave an impression, they are physical objects in the landscape. They are perhaps at their most tangible when they cross boundaries, natural and manmade. In The Lost Paths, I write about a lost path I walked in Lancashire, well used but not recorded as a public right of way. A wide track, with grass banks which merge into the surrounding hedges, with trees standing alongside as sentinels which mark the gentle drifts and curves of the lane. At its southern end, the path crosses a river – a quietly enchanting, almost hidden spot. In the riverbed can be seen the cobbles of an old ford and above the water, a beautiful, hunched packhorse bridge. These are tell-tale signs that the public have been coming this way for hundreds of years. Just some of the physical clues, alongside objects like old worn stiles buried in a hedge, that you may be looking at a lost public path.

Packhorse bridge on a lost path

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Author Event: Drink Maps in Victorian Britain by Kris Butler

“This is the story of drink maps, and it’s probably not what you think”

Last week we were joined by Kris Butler for a fascinating exploration of the history of alcohol in Victorian Britain via the ‘drink maps’ that were produced by the temperance movement to promote sobriety.

It’s not about pub crawls or plotted ale trails. Instead, these are maps with an agenda that was adamantly hostile to drinking alcohol, made by an organized faction known as the Temperance Movement. The logic at the time of the maps’ creation went as follows: if people are shown how many places there are to buy alcohol, they will be so appalled that they will join the effort to end drinking. In hindsight this logic is obviously flawed.’

Drink Maps in Victorian Britain explores how drink maps of cities were published to fight increasingly rampant alcohol consumption, from Liverpool,Manchester and Sheffield to Oxford, London, and Norwich.

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Author Event: French Windows by Antoine Laurain

On Tuesday evening we hosted an evening of discussion, storytelling and murder mystery with award winning author Antoine Laurain as he spoke to Jake Kerridge about his superb new novel French Windows, a surprising and suspenseful murder mystery, reminiscent of Hitchcock with a Parisian heart.

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Map of the Month: Normandy D-Day – 6 June 1944 IGN Map

Our Map of the Month for June is the Normandy D-Day – 6 June 1944 IGN Map.

This is a commemorative map from the IGN for the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy on 6th June 1944. It has three large panels showing the various groupings of the Allied Armies and the defending German forces, the changes in the front lines between 6th June and 18th August, and present day commemorative sites and monuments.

The main panel at 1:100,000 shows the five beaches: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword together with the command structure and the position of the Allied Forces, from General Eisenhower to individual units including the supporting airborne divisions, and the defending German forces, it also indicates beachheads and the front line 24 hours later.

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Author talk: D-Day Landings

Last week we hosted a really interesting event with Mary Ann Evans and Alastair McKenzie as they spoke about their new book D-Day Landings: a Travel Guide to Normandy’s Beaches and Battlegrounds.

Published to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the military mission that changed World War II, this is Bradt’s new guidebook to visiting beaches, memorials, museums, battlefields and other sites associated with D-Day and the Battle of Normandy (Operation Overlord). A simple-to-follow, portable guide for independent travellers, it includes maps and driving instructions to help visitors go back in time to explore World War II history.

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Children’s Book of the Month: Flags of the World

Our Children’s Book of the Month for June is Flags of the World by Collins Kids.

We are all massive vexillophiles here at Stanfords and for most of us our first memories of admiring flags was while watching the Olympics as children. With Paris hosting the Olympics this summer, now is the perfect time for us to all brush up on our flag knowledge.

Can you name every flag in the world?

Discover the design and colours of every single country’s flag – and learn lots of fascinating facts and stats about continents, countries, and capitals along the way.

Explore the world of fantastic flags from A to Z. Flags are listed alphabetically by country name for easy reference – from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe and every country in-between. Features completely up-to-date statistics and accurate flags.

Challenge yourself with flag-tastic quizzes. Which is the oldest flag in the world? Which is the only country that doesn’t have a rectangular flag? And which flag is the most colourful?

Perfect for entertaining kids on the go. This mini paperback makes an ideal gift for children aged 7+ who are curious about other countries, their capitals, and their flags.

Flags of the World is available now for £6.99.

Book of the Month: Slow Trains to Istanbul

Our Book of the Month is Slow Trains to Istanbul by Tom Chesshyre.

From London via Paris, Naples, Nuremberg, the Swiss Alps, Budapest, Athens and into the furthest corners of Eastern Europe across Romania and Bulgaria, join Tom Chesshyre on his fascinating journey to Istanbul and back.

Ever dreamt of dropping everything and adventuring cross-country to the edge of Asia? That’s just what Tom Chesshyre did, hitting the tracks for a 4,570-mile adventure on 55 rides, shadowing the old Orient Express route.

Interrailing was once the realm of young backpackers setting off to “find themselves” – and for many, it still is. But it’s also a joyful and eco-friendly twenty-first century adventure that’s open to us all, no matter our age or agenda. Dodging striking train drivers in Germany, getting stuck by the Bulgarian-Greek border, and negotiating tricky passport officials in Turkey is all part of the fun in this illuminating and meandering journey around Europe.

Europe by rail awaits. The freedom of the lines awaits. Why not hop on board?

Author Biography

Tom Chesshyre is the author of eleven travel books, the latest telling the story of a 379-mile hike around the Lake District. He has travelled 40,000 miles around the world for his train books; most recently for Slow Trains Around Spain: A 3,000-Mile Adventure on 52 Rides. His book writing has also taken him across North Africa after the Arab Spring, round the “dark side” of the Maldives on cargo ships, along the length of the River Thames and on a journey through “unsung Britain” (in To Hull and Back). He worked on the travel desk of The Times for 21 years and is now freelance, contributing to The Critic and New European magazines. He lives in London.

Slow Trains to Istanbul is available now for £20

Watch Tom Chesshyre introduce his new book:

Free Badiani Ice Cream with ‘You Deserve Good Gelato’ by Kacie Rose

You may have seen her hilarious TikTok videos about the everyday culture shocks of being an American living in Italy, now Kacie Rose has collated her experiences into a new book; You Deserve Good Gelato.

To celebrate the launch we’ve teamed up with DK and our neighbours Badiani for a delicious collaboration.

Visit Stanfords Covent Garden Store and get a FREE Badiani gelato voucher with your purchase of You Deserve Good Gelato between 28th May – 4th June

– 10% discounted gelato when you take your copy of You Deserve Good Gelato to any Badiani store across the UK from 28th May – 4th June.

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Author Talk: Globetrotting: A conversation with Duncan Minshull and Kim Kremer

“And what a world was seen afoot!” Bayard Taylor.

Duncan Minshull, former BBC producer, writer and anthologist, has used the words of the travel journalist Taylor as inspiration for his new collection, Globetrotting: Writers Walk The World, which he discussed last night at Stanfords with Kim Kremer, publisher of Notting Hill Editions.

In the collection we are able to follow in the footsteps of over fifty writers; ranging from Christopher Columbus, to Edith Wharton, to William Boyd. They traverse the seven continents in all sorts of climes and times, be it 1492 or the present day. But then, aren’t all walking types linked by one thing? The sensory desire to see, and also hear, smell, and ultimately feel the places they move though. Yes, you might ask, is this why we all want to travel on foot? Talking about, and reading from Globetrotting, provides some excellent answers.

 Globetrotting: Writers Walk The World, is available now for £15.99. We have signed copies while stocks last.

About the speakers:

Duncan Minshull was a senior producer at BBC Radio for twenty five years, and now writes and publishes book about walking. He also takes people for ‘walk & talks’ around the UK. Globetrotting is the final book in a trilogy about travelling the world on foot.

Kim Kremer is MD of Notting Hill Editions. She joined the company in 2014, having worked originally in Children’s Publishing. She is a judge on the 2024 Nature Chronicles Prize, and enjoys getting out on foot whenever time allows.