Parallel Lines: Or, Journeys on the Railway of Dreams – Ian Marchant

…. “or every girl’s big book of trains”.

Quite why the third alternative title doesn’t make it onto the cover is a mystery, and an almost fatal one in my case is it’s taken me 5 months to pick up this book, which was another ex-Wishlist item.

And the loss would have been mine.

It’s had to explain why this is such a good book, and it’s hard to work out if I liked it purely because of my own character and background. Just don’t reject this book on the basis that it’s a trainspotter’s guide because it most definitely isn’t. Ian Marchant knows his stuff when it comes to trains and all things train-related, but he’s not an engine-spotting-list-ticker. Rather, he’s a bohemian bloke who loves the railways and their role in British history – all the way from the first horse-drawn tracks to Network Rail, via Stephenson’s rocket and the railway mania of the 1800s; Beeching and privatisation.

Parallel lines is part social history, part political commentary, part autobiography, in a style akin to Nick Hornby and Bill Bryson – but with less knowing cleverness, and more heartfelt passion.

Buy it: Amazon link