Must Read Books for any Narrowboater!

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Do you like reading books? I know I do! There is nothing better than a good old sit down with a book in front of a roaring multi fuel stove 🙂 So today I want to let you know what my favourite narrowboat related books are! And if you have others you want to recommend to the community at large feel free to leave a comment at the bottom. Share and share alike is what I say!

I am not going to order these books by how much I like them, as this would be too hard to decide! However, I am simply going to split them up by subject matter.

Before we start, I will say that this list is a work in progress and I will add and take away from it as I discover new books. If you wish to find out more about any of these books, simply click the image to be taken over to Amazon.

Narrowboat DIY and Maintenance Books

Narrow Boat Engine Maintenance and Repair

You know what narrowboat engines can be, right? Massive time and money sinks, especially if you don’t know what you are doing (which is most of us at the start). How about a book that explains everything you would possibly need to know about narrowboat engines in one book (along with detailed colour photographs to boot). Sound good? Well, this is your jam. This book will get you out of those canal side jams when your engine won’t start or something fell off it! And you can save money on expensive services that you can now do yourself! Narrowboat engine books are like gold dust, so snap this one up quick!

Narrow Boats: Care and Maintenance

Need a book to explain all the different parts of and systems within a narrowboat? If you do, this should be the first book you grab. There are a lot of great explanations and valuable information here, and even the most seasoned narrowboaters could learn a thing or two from this book. These kind of books might not be around for much longer (this one is from 1995 and could go out of print at any point), so I say put them on your bookshelf whilst you still can.

Narrowboat Journey Books

For this section, you kind of need books for the head and books for the heart 🙂

Collins Nicholson Inland Waterways Map of Great Britain

Let’s start with the uber practical inland waterway maps (for your sensible side), of which the best one is by Nicholson. Believe it or not, it might not be as easy as you think to get a full size fold-out map of the British waterways, but this is exactly what you will find here. This is like the AA maps for narrowboaters!!

And if you want something along the same lines but a bit more specific to an area, Nicholson also have some well-written guides for specific canals. Rather than just being a simple map, they will also detail some of the main attractions along that specific part of the cut 🙂 The one below is mainly for the Grand Union Canal.

With our head dealt with, let’s move on to some more inspiring narrowboat journey books for your heart 🙂

Our Great Canal Journeys: A Lifetime of Memories on Britain’s Most Beautiful Waterways

I don’t think I have met anyone that didn’t enjoy watching the amazing TV series with Prunella Scales and Timothy West of the same name. It not just because Prunella is someone we ‘know from the TV’ either. The couple really did bring their canal journeys to life with a dose of reality and a side of dry wit. This exact feeling is brought over to this book (unbelievably) so if you love the series you are probably going to treasure the book too!

The Canals of Britain: The Comprehensive Guide

This book has comprehensive in its title and boy oh boy not a truer word has ever been spoken! If you are looking for an ultimate guide to the British Canal System, this is surely the book for you. No stone is left unturned in this book, and once you have picked it up, you will have trouble putting it down. That quick read can soon be an afternoon’s work 🙂 If you like a little history in with your canal guide this one is especially for you!

Pearson’s Canal Companion – Kennet & Avon, River Thames

The Canal Companions are available for many different stretches of the canal system and offer an excellent guide that will make sure you are well informed way before you moor up in a new location. I find these books really match the often slow pace of canal life and therefore often have a habit of showing up on my coffee table!

Narrowboat Beginner Guides

Narrowboat Life: Discover Life Afloat on the Inland Waterways

This starter guide for narrowboat life will provide you with a great insight into what living on the water is like, but in a more fun and casual tone rather than some of the matter of fact books out there. If you want to be inspired to live on the canals (and get some answers along the way) this could be the book for you. If you are looking for a factual encyclopedia of beginner tips, maybe look somewhere else 🙂 I have to say I love the photos in this book and this makes it a great coffee table read!

Narrow Boats: Ownership, Care and Maintenance

If you are after that more matter of fact beginner guide to narrowboating, this could be it. This turns out to be a comprehensive guide to everything narrowboat. Yes, you can find a lot of this information for free from the internet (like on my website!), but you can’t beat having it all in one place and not using up your leisure batteries whilst reading it! Seriously though, there’s just something magical about reading a book! This is the book I wish I had right back at the start of my narrowboat journey!

Narrowboat History Books

Water Ways: A thousand miles along Britain’s canals

I struggled with whether to put this book into the journey books section or this one, but upon reflection I am opting more for the history angle. Think of this book as a travelogue around the British canals with someone explaining the history to you as you go. Another amazing book that anyone interested in canals or canal boats can easily get absorbed in. The author Jasper Winn knows how to write (which isn’t always the case with canal related books) and I found myself wanting to read the whole thing in a couple of sittings. But, be warned, this book will give you the cruising bug!

Canal Builders: How Britain’s Canal Network Evolved

If you simply want a blow by blow account of the history and evolution of the British canal network, this could be the book for you. Heavy in history and nostalgia, it will be more than enough for even the biggest history buffs. Funnily enough, this book was first published in the 70’s, but is just as relevant to me now. Any canal history geek needs to reserve a place on their bookshelf for this vintage!

Get your Read on….

There you go, there’s some canal related book ideas! And as I said above, feel free to suggest your own favourite books below. I would never suggest to be the world’s best canal boat book critic, I’m simply trying to help the community out 🙂

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