The Snow Tourist

Charlie English

Published: 5 October 2009
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 272 pages
ISBN: 9781846270642


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 in California to plough drivers in Alaska.This is a book for anyone who reaches for their mittens at the sight of the first flake.

About the author

Image of Charlie English

Charlie English is the deputy editor for the Saturday Guardian. The Snow Tourist is his first book. More about the author


The Snow Tourist is a humorous, philosophical travelogue that encompasses historical facts, insightful encounters and fascinating anecdotes as English's travels take him from the Arctic Circle to New York, Scotland and central Europe: anywhere, in fact, where a white blanket of crystals can turn the landscape into a miracle. A perfect winter book’ Tina Jackson



‘A cracking read that deserves to be by the bedside of every keen skier or snowboarder. Indeed, it is the phenomenon of snow, as much as skiing - or boarding, which he prefers - that fascinates him’

‘A quest for that precious memory of something lost, intrinsic to both man and his culture ... On the journey we learn about snow from multiple perspectives, including snow science, philosophy, history, architecture, sport, religion, literature and painting, and are kept in mind of both the extreme danger and wonder that it holds’ Jon Fordham

‘A series of quixotic essays ranging from a lesson in igloo-building in a remote, blizzard-ridden settlement on Baffin Island to a meditation on the origins of skiing in ancient China’ Edward McGown

‘A wonder and a delight. The perfect winter book’

‘An enchanting tale of one man's search for snow, a report on the precarious state of our extreme climates, an evocative poem to lost childhood winters: I was gripped, from the first flakes to the final thaw’ Joanna Kavenna

‘An engaging book that tells you all you want to know about snow ... Charlie English has the good journalist's ability to absorb a great deal of information and pass it on in a vivid and intelligent way, combining it with his own experiences. He describes the natural world very well ... compelling and paradoxically heart-warming’ John S Doyle

‘An engaging read’ Katie Owen

‘Another excellent book out next month is Charlie English's Snow Tourist ... The author is an accomplished snowboarder and he writes very well. These skills are not often combined’ Giles Foden

‘Charlie English's quest to find perfect snow - in history, in literature, on or off piste - twinkles with warmth and originality’

‘Conveyed with clarity and ease ... English's passion for snow is more than a mere hobby arising from ennui. Embedded within the narrative is an emotional quest’ Judith Rice

‘Curl up with a book unusually devoted to the magic, history and science of snow’ Martin Latham

‘English writes an efficient, automatic-drive kind of prose’ Tom Fort

‘English writes wonderfully about his anxieties and his travels, and if he does not always find what he is looking for, that is down to the increasingly elusive nature of his subject’ Adam Ruck

‘English's easy-going narrative style recalls Bill Bryson ... his struggles to understand the forces that have shaped him, both natural and human, make for a heart-warming read’ Simon Ward

‘English's glee is infectious ... A charming handbook ends the volume including an illustrated guide to building an igloo’ Helen Zaltzman

‘He explains the extraordinary hold this commonplace phenomenon has over us, and reveals the ongoing drama of our relationship with it’

‘His humble, gentle tone ... makes the book so refreshing, so different is it to the slew of recent travel books in which even the smallest event is hammed up for comic or dramatic effect. Here, combined with an audacious lack of incident, is a deliciously calm pace, a seriousness and honesty that couldn't be further from the silly quests we've grown accustomed to. English doesn't exaggerate; he's happy to give prominence to the experts he interviews as much as himself and, above all, to leave centre stage to the subject of his obsession - the snow itself’ Tom Robbins

‘In an interesting blend of meteorology, history, art and even the spiritual, English brings you close to understanding his chilly passion’ Colin Waters

‘In this unique book, which is part eulogy, part history, part travelogue, Charlie English goes in search of the best snow on the planet - a must-have for anyone who reaches for their mittens at the sight of the first flake’

‘Like individual sparkles in a homogenous whole, each chapter is a self-contained travelogue with a distinct destination and a linked snow-related subject or history ... engaging, thoughtful and well balanced’ Jonathan Trigell

‘Most admirable ... We do love his quest to find where gets the most snowfall’

‘Nostalgic, seductive and deadly, snow is a great subject to roll around in. English, who has a clear journalistic prose style and a boyish enthusiasm for the stuff is an engaging guide ... As a seasonal gift this may reawaken your inner small boy and is therefore probably the next best thing to the white stuff’ Caroline McGinn

‘The book leaves the impression of a man who thought travelling to learn more about snow would be fun, but in the process learned a lot about himself and wrote a thoughtful book’ Fordyce Maxwell

‘The perfect read for a winter's day as you sit in front of the fire imagining a crisp snow-scene outside ignoring the grey drizzly reality’

‘The story of Mr English's feeling for snow makes a book as delicious as a double chocolat liégeois’ Celia Brayfield

‘This enduring romance with the white stuff is what this book is all about, travelling across the globe and throughout the ages in an exploration of the allure of what is so much more than just frozen water’

‘This is a finely written and many-sided account of the fascination - both fearful and loving - that we have for snow. Charlie English deftly weaves together history, reportage, travelogue and memoir into a gentle, erudite and at times beautiful book’ Robert Macfarlane

‘This isn't simply the latest hand-wringing eco-polemic to hit our bookshops - it's both more subtle and more personal than that ... English makes some interesting forays into snow history and snow culture’ Roger Cox

‘Well written and filled with interesting perspectives from the people he meets, English will captivate you throughout just as long as you're as big a fan of snow as he is’ Arnold Withers

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