These books and writers have influenced the Islands and Lifelines venture, by their content and/or their inspiring writing

Iain Banks, Raw Spirit - Banks tours Scotland in search of the perfect whisky, keeping a safe distance from the macabre events of the Wasp Factory

Bella Bathurst, The Lighthouse Stephensons - The story of Britain's Lighthouses, well researched, with first hand fieldwork and superbly  written

Bella Bathurst, The Wreckers - The dark side of salvage from the sea, exploring the communities around our coasts

Ronald Blythe, The Age of Illusion - The author of Akenfield's brilliant reconstruction of life in England between the wars.  Some wonderful essays – but sadly out of print

Bill Bryson, Notes from a Small Island - The original amiable travel book, apparently effortless connection with people and places on a haphazard tour

Nicholas Crane, Clear Waters Rising - The story of Crane's remarkable endurance trek across the roof of Europe

Robert Edric, The Broken Lands – Fictionalised, compelling story of Franklin's search for the North West Passage

Daniel Gahan, The People’s Rising - History of the Wexford Rebellions in 1798

Jean Giono, The Man Who Planted Trees - The story of a shepherd’s visionary efforts to reforest an alpine valley in the early 20th century

Brian Girvan, The Emergency (Ireland 1939-45)Ireland’s neutrality during the Second World War

Al Gore, Earth in the Balance - Gore realised the scale of the challenge facing the environment a decade before other politicians.

Peter Gray, The Irish Famine - A succinct, powerful introduction to the Irish Famine of 1845 to 1850.

Thomas Hardy, Tess of the Durbeyvilles - Probably the best introduction to Hardy's Wessex – but many to chose from

Hamish Haswell-Smith, The Scottish Islands - Exhaustive (but far from exhausting) and beautifully presented catalogue of Island Scotland

WG Hoskins, The Making of the English Landscape - Classic 1965 account of how our landscape has evolved.  Others follow in his wake.

John Manley, Atlas of Prehistoric Britain - Comprehensive overview of Britain's prehistoric sites with some great photographs, cogent narrative and, of course, brilliant maps

Aubrey Manning, Earth Story - Geology for the uninitiated

Daphne du Maurier, House on the Strand - Du Maurier considered this to be her best work, and I agree. Spooky tale of time travel set in the West Country, with a wonderful sense of landscape and history

Pete McCarthy, McCarthy’s Bar - McCarthy's hilarious drunken rampage through rural Ireland. Great insights amidst the mayhem. So sad it was his last book

Don McCullin, Unreasonable Behaviour - Autobiography of the photographer who went where others fear to tread and then found himself anew

Ken McGoogan, Fatal Passage - Biography of John Rae, the great unsung hero who really did discover the crucial twist in the North West Passage

Alistair Moffat, The Sea Kingdoms - History of the Celtic Kingdoms of Britain, offering an original perspective and terrific challenges to Anglo-centred view of the past

Ludovic Kennedy, In Bed with the Elephant - Study of Scotland's relationship with England.  LK’s autobiography is brilliantly written and also illuminates naval history

George Monbiot, Heat - Up to date, no holds barred version of Global Warming. Uncomfortable, impassioned, contentious – and usually right

Dervla Murphy, A Place Apart – The uncompromising, shrewd, hardy traveller gets under the skin of Northern Ireland in her first venture across the border at age 44.

Eric Newby, Short Walk in the Hindu Kush - A great British travel writer. Even now Newby's adventures seem like insane undertakings, particularly this venture into the still impassable Hindu Kush. His understated style, and skilful depiction of the characters he encounters, make them all the more compelling

Eric Newby, Love and War in the Apennines - Newby's account of his part in the war, escape from captivity and meeting Wanda the love of his life

Eric Newby, The Last Great Grain Race - Aged just 18, Newby signs up as part of the crew of the last clipper ship making its way from Australia to Europe.  An unbelievable adventure beautifully told

Redmond O’Hanlon, Trawler - Hallucinatory account of O'Hanlon's ride-along with one of the most dangerous professions on Earth

E F Schumacher, Small Is Beautiful - Classic economic text ‘as if people mattered’.  If ever we needed to rediscover EFS it is now                                

Tom Steel, The Life and Death of St Kilda- The story of the last days of Britain's furthest inhabited outpost

Toibin and Ferriter, The Irish Famine - More detailed account of the appalling Famine

Mark Wallington, 500 Mile Walkies - This touching and funny travelogue covering Wallington's attempt at the South-West Coast path with his miscreant dog, Boogie inspired me to start travel writing.