This new book by Eugene Buchanan, Jason Smith and James Weir would probably make a good Christmas present. In the interest of being completely transparent I'm going to declare from the outset that two of the authors are close friends of mine and all are influential throughout the paddling industry, and that I fervently hope they're nice about my book (the Haynes Kayaking Manual) when it comes out next year. There... now I'm going to tell you about theirs:
This book is captivating right from the front cover, and continues not to disappoint throughout. One of the problems I know only too well as a paddling author is how to cover all aspects of such a diverse pastime without creating vast swathes of material that half your audience just aren't interested in. The secret, of course, is to be engaging and inspirational. Everyone appreciates a beautiful photograph or an elegant turn of phrase, even if the content isn't their current obsession. This book nails it.
The book is subtitled "100 Extraordinary Paddling Experiences", and each takes the form of a stunning full page photo facing a page of text, which also supplies some small inset maps and tips on how to check out the location. It's designed for people who actually want to do this stuff, and it's all killer, no filler. With a double page for each adventure plus indexes, the book rounds out at 207 pages.
Knowing the background of the authors, I expected this work to bias heavily towards whitewater paddling, but the range and balance is impressive. From the canals of Venice to the lagoons of Fiji and from icebergs to waterfalls, the book is a travel cornucopia, and every turn of the page puts a smile on my face. It's got its fair share of whitewater, as of everything else, but it's all expertly presented to be inspirational and interesting to anyone, paddler or not.
I'm always loath to claim something is a "must have" or should "be on every paddler's coffee table", but in this case I must say I defy anyone not to enjoy every single page, and to want to show it to friends and family. There are a lot of good paddling books out there, but this one is unique in what it's set out to do and has exemplarily delivered. I know I'll continue to pick it up again and again. I highly recommend it.
You can buy it here (Amazon)