Island Dreams

‘Not just a paean but a meditation. Drawing on psychology, philosophy and literature, Francis examines the appeal of separation and remoteness, and recounts his own trips over the years, to the Antarctic, the Hebrides and beyond . . . Filled with a cartographer’s embarrassment of maps, while Francis elegantly and methodically asserts his case . . . He writes in brief, elliptical paragraphs, each as ornately designed as the diagrams that accompany them’

‘In his elegant, questing book, flavoured by wide learning and deep experience, Francis offers a fresh look at a perennial paradox: whether we live gregariously in a city or remotely on an island, a part of us is always wondering and fantasising about the other’

‘Composed of koan-like snatches of prose, [Island Dreams] wanders between memoir and literature, steered by Francis’s adventurous past and eclectic reading . . . Illustrated with a gorgeous array of maps, pictures and diagrams’

‘A delightful hymn to the many attractions of islands . . . Beautifully illustrated . . . There are so many riches and delights in this book that there is scarcely a page that does not invite quotation, so I can best advise that you buy it and treat it as an anthology or a box of delights. It will set you dreaming and have you thinking’

‘Wonderful . . . Beautifully illustrated throughout, it's an enchanting meditation on rest and motion, independence and attachment, and what these mean in our hyper-connected world’
Bookseller, editor’s choice

‘This gorgeous book from Gavin Francis looks at our collective fascination with islands by blending his own experiences with great voyages from literature as well as a splash of psychology and philosophy. It's at heart, an exploration of isolation and connectedness that's particularly timely’
The List

‘An interesting, enjoyable and informative work of psychogeography that wends its way through time and space . . . Beautifully produced, typographically and pictorially . . . It deserves to be read widely’

‘   *****   
This artistic, poetic depiction of island life is the perfect travel book . . . A book to be read at leisure, slowly savouring the descriptive text . . . Both uplifting and relaxing and takes the reader to a place of solitude where they may discover their own particular passion'

Wee Review

Published October 2020, Canongate Books

With Island Dreams, Gavin Francis journeys into our collective fascination with islands. He blends stories of his own travels with great voyages from literature and philosophical exploration, and he examines the place of islands and isolation in our collective consciousness.

Island Dreams compares a life of freedom of thirty years of extraordinary travel - from the Faroe Islands to the Aegean, from Antarctica to the Andaman Islands - with a life of responsibility as a doctor, community member and parent approaching middle age.

Maps show us the ways islands have been understood and imagined over the centuries, and demonstrate how island communities connect to broader currents in science, seafaring and society.   It’s often said that it’s easier to feel socially isolated in the city than it is in a small island community, and Island Dreams riffs on the twinned poles of rest and motion, independence and attachment, never more relevant that in today’s perennially connected world.

Beautifully illustrated with maps throughout, this is a celebration of human adventures in the world and within our minds.

Read more on the Canongate website