Just got my hands on a few of Nigel McGilchrist's guides to the Greek islands. What a joy to read. At £150 I couldn't afford the whole set of 20 books but I got a few of the more interesting at knock-down prices of around £6 each.
Art historian Nigel McGilchrist lives in an Italian farmhouse, keeps donkeys and makes his own olive oil and wine.
When the publisher Blue Guides commissioned a guide to the Greek islands it got nearly 600,000 words – three times more than asked for.
McGilchrist researched the islands for almost six years and in his own words 'attempted to walk, ride, drive, climb, sail and swim' them.
His epic manuscript was condensed into the Blue Guide to Greece: the Aegean Islands but, alarmed at the cuts that were made, McGilchrist bought back the rights to go it alone and has published his original detailed manuscripts in 20 volumes.
For lovers of the Greek Islands, they are as close to being definitive portraits as you could hope for. I say portraits as they are not typical guidebooks as such – more erudite ramblings on history, archaeology, geography and culture.
With the exception of Crete, the series takes in all the Aegean islands from tiny Antikythera up to Samothrace, and from Alonissos down to Kastellorizo.
He has visited each Greek island himself, exploring every place of historical and cultural interest and produced these pocket-sized delights that will enhance any travel bookshelf.
Maybe one day he'll find time to wander Crete and the Ionian islands and complete the collection.