It was my birthday recently and as usual I was on the receiving end of some excellent books. Unusually however, I received two by the same author.
Mark Mason is all around legend who combines three of my favourite activities – books, walking, and general knowledge that no one ever really needs but loves regardless. ‘Walk The Lines’ is an absolutely incredible book, and for those looking for more bang for your buck, it’s two books in one!
The first book is his own immersive piece of non-fiction that just carries you away. The walks he undertakes of London’s meandering tube lines, the trivia he shares about where he travels, the history of the communities he sees, and so much more is all piled together gloriously to make something so delightfully inspiring to read.
The second book, and the most important one I think, is the one that Mark helps you write your own head. Your very own book of London, and of the tube, that grows inside your head as you walk with him. Enabling long suffering commuters to create their own tube adventures as they go isn’t easy – but it is achieved in these pages. Since reading this book I have done variations of his walks, and I have even been on one of his guided tours.
It’s rare I want to thank an author for a book, but I do want to thank Mark for bringing magic to the streets. For anyone who loves London, the underground, or indeed anyone who just loves life I can wholly recommend ‘Walk the Lines’ and I will be reading it again very soon.
‘The Importance of Being Trivial – In Search of the Perfect Fact’ begins in Muswell Hill making it hyper local for readers. This book is a journey book and one that goes on so many tangents that you can’t help but enjoy it. As Mark begins his quest for the perfect fact at the pub quiz, and his quest ends a million (metaphorical) miles away from where he started – and all that is in between is stunning crafted by a very gifted story-teller.
The story itself is told alongside boxes of trivia facts, which are enthralling and keep the mind on the prize: the perfect fact! Did you know that Keith Richards of Rolling Stones fame was a choirboy at the coronation of the Queen?
This book brings to the fore the importance of knowledge and how it can change lives for the better. In the age of smart phones, we’re all too quick to Google, so where does this leave thinking and knowledge? Do we rely on others to cultivate it and we just harvest it? Are we losing the ability to think, and learn, for ourselves?
Try this one in your head before you search for the answer: How long will a standard HB pencil draw a line for before running out of lead?
To enjoy life is to enjoy the books of Mark Mason. You could do much worse on an Autumn evening, and with Christmas only around the corner, I think a visit to your local independent book shop to order these books to give as a present is a must.