I've always loved books, so here are five of my favourites, which in some way or another have influenced the Woman with Altitude project:
My Journey to Lhasa by Alexandra David-Néel
This is the book that directly inspired the whole Woman with Altitude project, My Journey to Lhasa by Alexandra David-Néel.
I first read this book when I was 16, and I was so amazed and in awe of her journey that I've been a little bit obsessed with her ever since!
I've written a full blog post on this book that you can read here.
My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell
I would maybe go as far as to say that My Family and Other Animals is my favourite book of all time......maybe. My copy is totally destroyed from the amount of times I've read this gorgeous autobiography.
One morning, the rain in England just wouldn't stop, so Gerald's mum decided that they had to move somewhere warm. They immediately packed their bags and moved to Corfu. This book follows Gerald's early life and his obsession with animals. It's beautifully written, making you laugh out loud at his eccentric family and the unconventional characters he meets along the way.
This book, along with Gerald Durrell's wildlife conservation work, made my love of animals even greater than it was, which in turn has helped me to understand how important my actions are when it comes to looking after our planet. (A couple of years ago I ended up climbing a mountain and running a marathon in aid of this. Read about that adventure here.)
The real hero of this book though, has to be Gerry's mum. She had an idea, immediately put her plan into action and didn't shy away from seeing it through to the end.
The Cave in the Snow by Vicki MacKenzie
Tenzin Palmo, formerly Diane Perry from Bethnal Green, spent 12 years living in a cave on her own, high up in the freezing Himalayas.
She was determined in her quest to prove that a Buddhist woman could reach spiritual enlightenment, just like a man could. In her cave, she survived incredibly cold Himalayan winters, managed to dodge near-starvation and slept upright on her three-feet square meditation box... just to reiterate - this was for 12 years!!!
I won't ruin the story, but if you want some inspiration when it comes to physical and mental determination - this is your book. I'll be thinking about Tenzin Palmo while I'm trying to sleep in my freezing cold yak tent!
Along the Enchanted Way by William Blacker
This beautifully written memoir tells the story of Blacker's time living in rural Romania. When the Berlin wall came down, Blacker took his chance and set off on a journey across Eastern Europe.
He never intended on living in Romania, but a kind family, an enchanting gypsy girl and an ancient way of living life won over his heart.
My mum has an enormous book collection, and has probably read thousands of books in her lifetime. This one is still up there as a firm favourite of hers.
A Mad World, My Masters by John Simpson
John Simpson has written many books that I love, but A Mad World My Masters, the first one I read has to be my favourite. Whenever I need to be brave I just remember that if John can interview a farting Colonel Gadhafi, I too can do anything.
So, if you want to know how to escape from a crazed Osama bin Laden, or how to come out of a Colombian cocaine market alive, give this a read.
Much to my delight, I actually got to meet John when he did a talk in London. John dressed up all smart for the occasion, but I played it cool in my grandad shirt dress and Puma rucksack.