The Snow Tourist, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


In this unique book, part eulogy, part history, part travelogue, Charlie English goes in search of the best snow on the planet.

Along the way he explains the extraordinary hold this commonplace phenomenon has over us, and reveals the ongoing drama of our relationship with it.

Combining on-the-slopes experience with off-piste research, Charlie English's journey begins with the magical moment when his two-year old son sees snow for the first time, before setting off in the footsteps of the Romantic poets over the Alps, following the sled-tracks of the Inuit across Greenland, and meeting up with a flurry of fellow enthusiasts, from snow-making scientists in Japan and global warming experts at Caltech to plough drivers in Alaska.

This is a book for anyone who reaches for their mittens at the sight of the first flake.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Travel writing
  • ISBN: 9781846270642

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What a fascinating book this turned out to be. I'd heard vague whispers about it in the newspapers when it was first published, but it was only a chance spying of it in Waterstones just before Christmas that reminded me it even existed! I'm so glad I asked for it for Christmas because it turned out to be a pretty delicious little gem.Charlie English has grown up with a love of snow, passed on by his mountain-sport-enthuasiast father in his childhood and nurtured ever since. In this book he formulates a plan: a Snow Tour of the world to delve to the bottom of snow's mysterious attraction and intrigue. From France to Vienna to the Alps to London, he travels in search of knowledge and understanding. He learns about avalanches and the history of skiing, visits perilous glaciers and stops at the mountain claiming to be the snowiest place on Earth, explores the lure of snow to artists and poets, learns how to build an igloo from an Inuit, and looks back at the scientists who helped form our knowledge of snow and snowflakes down the years. This friendly and accessible homage to snow is a genre-defying mix of science and travelogue, sport and nature, history and literature, memoir and art, which means there is something for everyone and it never failed to keep my interest. I have no knowledge of winter sports or of the wintry places English describes, but I never felt that I was being shut out from his journey. The only thing I would have liked was photographs - I felt that the book would have been enhanced still further by being able to see some of the incredible sights being described, evocative though the author's prose was as I was reading. There was, however, a nice little section at the back of the book filled with snowy trivia, survival tips and snippets of poetry, which was a nice touch, as well as a glossary of scientific and indigenous terminology. All in all, highly recommended - though I <i>would</i> caution that it's definitely best read snugly wrapped up with a mug of tea, as it's hardly the most warming of topics!