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When Amy Liptrot returns to Orkney after more than a decade away, she is drawn back to the Outrun on the sheep farm where she grew up. Approaching the land that was once home, memories of her childhood merge with the recent events that have set her on this journey. Amy was shaped by the cycle of the seasons, birth and death on the farm, and her father’s mental illness, whic When Amy Liptrot returns to Orkney after more than a decade away, she is drawn back to the Outrun on the sheep farm where she grew up. Approaching the land that was once home, memories of her childhood merge with the recent events that have set her on this journey. Amy was shaped by the cycle of the seasons, birth and death on the farm, and her father’s mental illness, which were as much a part of her childhood as the wild, carefree existence on Orkney. But as she grew up, she longed to leave this remote life. She moved to London and found herself in a hedonistic cycle. Unable to control her drinking, alcohol gradually took over. Now thirty, she finds herself washed up back home on Orkney, standing unstable at the cliff edge, trying to come to terms with what happened to her in London. Spending early mornings swimming in the bracingly cold sea, the days tracking Orkney’s wildlife—puffins nesting on sea stacks, arctic terns swooping close enough to feel their wings—and nights searching the sky for the Merry Dancers, Amy slowly makes the journey toward recovery from addiction. The Outrun is a beautiful, inspiring book about living on the edge, about the pull between island and city, and about the ability of the sea, the land, the wind, and the moon to restore life and renew hope. A Guardian Best Nonfiction Book of 2016 Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller New Statesman Book of the Year


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When Amy Liptrot returns to Orkney after more than a decade away, she is drawn back to the Outrun on the sheep farm where she grew up. Approaching the land that was once home, memories of her childhood merge with the recent events that have set her on this journey. Amy was shaped by the cycle of the seasons, birth and death on the farm, and her father’s mental illness, whic When Amy Liptrot returns to Orkney after more than a decade away, she is drawn back to the Outrun on the sheep farm where she grew up. Approaching the land that was once home, memories of her childhood merge with the recent events that have set her on this journey. Amy was shaped by the cycle of the seasons, birth and death on the farm, and her father’s mental illness, which were as much a part of her childhood as the wild, carefree existence on Orkney. But as she grew up, she longed to leave this remote life. She moved to London and found herself in a hedonistic cycle. Unable to control her drinking, alcohol gradually took over. Now thirty, she finds herself washed up back home on Orkney, standing unstable at the cliff edge, trying to come to terms with what happened to her in London. Spending early mornings swimming in the bracingly cold sea, the days tracking Orkney’s wildlife—puffins nesting on sea stacks, arctic terns swooping close enough to feel their wings—and nights searching the sky for the Merry Dancers, Amy slowly makes the journey toward recovery from addiction. The Outrun is a beautiful, inspiring book about living on the edge, about the pull between island and city, and about the ability of the sea, the land, the wind, and the moon to restore life and renew hope. A Guardian Best Nonfiction Book of 2016 Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller New Statesman Book of the Year

30 review for The Outrun: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Norquoy

    On a bleak January morning in 2013 my husband decided to surprise me with a trip to Papa Westray. We would never set foot on the island but the flight from Westray to Papay is the shortest in the world, and we were doing it for the novelty/bucket list factor. It isn’t very touristy to take this flight in January, even the pilot commented so, but we’re not tourists and clearly my husband wanted to beat the rush. While we waited at Kirkwall airport for our plane I was intrigued by a young woman al On a bleak January morning in 2013 my husband decided to surprise me with a trip to Papa Westray. We would never set foot on the island but the flight from Westray to Papay is the shortest in the world, and we were doing it for the novelty/bucket list factor. It isn’t very touristy to take this flight in January, even the pilot commented so, but we’re not tourists and clearly my husband wanted to beat the rush. While we waited at Kirkwall airport for our plane I was intrigued by a young woman also waiting for the plane who I now know to be Amy, the author of the book. Amy is difficult to miss as she is so striking in looks. Tall and slim with long blonde hair, I remember thinking she looked a little out of place to be travelling one way to Papay and wondered what she might be doing there. For some reason, I know not why, I decided she must be a locum doctor or something. I now know how wrong I was. Our paths never really crossed again other than the occasional sighting around Orkney but I later put two and two together and realised we followed each other on Twitter and further still I knew her mother who I met when I came up to Orkney for a first visit several years earlier, and she kindly invited me to lunch. We briefly touched on similar stories in that we were both fairly recently divorced or separated and spoke a little of our experiences. Strangely much of these fleeting glimpses into Amy’s life weaved their way into The Outrun and I now know why she was catching a plane to Papay. Living in Orkney, and only a mile away from The Outrun and farm Amy grew up in, we share the same view. My house looks down onto the bay that Amy describes and I can almost see the farm she describes from my window. my house was built by a neighbouring farmer. All these things little facts combine to fascinate me. I picked the perfect time to read the book, during the peak of a particularly rough storm. The winter is long and dark and showing no signs of abating and Amy’s descriptive language helped me to fall in love with Orkney all over again as I endure the last few weeks before Spring. She draws many contrasts between the 24 hour stimulation of London life and the solitude and wonder of nature in Orkney. In this extremely well written first book I felt at times almost voyeuristic as Amy describes in detail her struggle with alcoholism and determination to free herself from this addiction. From the very first paragraph, describing her arrival to Orkney as a new born, while her mentally ill father is taken away in a straight jacket, we discover there is nothing average or run of the mill about the author or her life. Through showing us her deep knowledge of Island life, Orkney myths, nature, birds, seas and skies we come to realise that what Amy was initially escaping is also the very thing that brought so much healing as she recovered. There are some hilarious chapters for instance when the author describes a cleaning job she once had in Flottta and there are some deeply moving lines, some which made me draw breath and at one point cry out. ”When I first left Orkney, my friend Sean gave me a compass. I used to wear it round my neck at parties, and when people asked about it, I would tell them it was so I could find my way home. I left the compass somewhere one night, then I was totally lost.” Amy is totally lost to alcoholism in the book but eventually finds her way North to recovery. I’m a huge fan of quirky people and Amy strikes me very much as one of these. Modest and at times self deprecating, with her enormous talent I’m sure she will go far. I cannot recommend The Outrun highly enough. It’s worth all the attention it’s currently getting.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    It seems a little churlish, not to say dimwitted, to read a memoir and then complain that the writer is a bit self-obsessed, but I did find that by around page 200 I wanted Amy Liptrot to give it a rest and stop bending my ear. Please, no more of the I was born to be an alcoholic but now I’m recovering day by day in the gorgeous yet bleak Orkney islands. They’re on the edge of Britain. I was born on the edge and I live on the edge all my life, geddit? Amy contemplates herself so much that even It seems a little churlish, not to say dimwitted, to read a memoir and then complain that the writer is a bit self-obsessed, but I did find that by around page 200 I wanted Amy Liptrot to give it a rest and stop bending my ear. Please, no more of the I was born to be an alcoholic but now I’m recovering day by day in the gorgeous yet bleak Orkney islands. They’re on the edge of Britain. I was born on the edge and I live on the edge all my life, geddit? Amy contemplates herself so much that even she complains about it : “Endlessly self-absorbed and self-doubting, I was shocked to find myself speaking platitudes that used to make my brain recoil”. Every reviewer is very respectful of this book and tiptoes around it admiring its self-lacerating yet perfectly-tuned prose (not one string even slightly flat), as if one wrong word might set Amy off on the downward spiral again. But no, she is an excellent writer. She is. She’s probably not my kind of excellent writer. There’s an awful lot about nature in this book. You know, little baa lambs and corncrakes and sketties and mulchbleeders and beefburgers and the like. I’m not so jazzed with the wildlife. I think I should watch David Attenborough but after the standard five minutes of pure wow my eyes are wandering. Although the fate of the dwindled corncrake does give one a teensy twinge – here’s a bird who Amy says has become reluctant to fly (maybe they’re lazy arses, maybe it’s the price of tickets). Now see their gruesome fate: The main reason for the decline in the numbers of corncrakes over the twentieth century is increasingly mechanised farming methods, in particular larger and more efficient grass mowers. Most corncrakes live in fields intended for hay or silage and when the mowers come to cut the grass, the birds are usually killed. Corncrakes move away from the mower into the ever-decreasing area of uncut grass, and are eventually caught in the middle of the field and mown to death on the final swathe. This could be directed by Tobe Hooper : The Orkney Corncrake Mower Massacre (1982). Several pretty but dense young corncrakes, their van having broken down, take refuge in the wrong field. Anyway, the young Amy leaves Orkney for its complete opposite : Hackney, London – warehouse parties, ecstasy and an awful lot of booze. And a fab American boyfriend. Alas, she becomes an out of control alky and it’s a wonder she was only arrested once. But the upside is that when they try to make her go to rehab instead of saying no no no as the other Amy did she says yes yes yes and that’s what this book is : Amy’s painful and not so painful recovery, and the things she did to get herself to stay sober. So this is a rehab memoir (an AA memoir, specifically) and there are the usual funnyish stories: One lunchtime we were talking about vitamin supplements, how useful they were, whether it is better to get vitamins through eating fruit and vegetables. “I mean, when you’ve had a salad, can you immediately feel it doing you good?” I realised that, because we were all addicts, the conversation had quickly developed into how much of a buzz you could get off a carrot. Once back in Orkney she does much stuff to take her mind off the booze : works on her dad’s farm building dykes (dry-stone walls), finds out whether the weird lump of waxy stuff in the barn is ambergris or not, visits abandoned islands, mucks in with the lambing, checks out the corncrakes for the RSPB, goes to live on a really tiny island called Papay in a tiny house, gets into astronomy (“that’s not a star, that’s Jupiter”), goes sea swimming, goes snorkeling (apparently it’s a whole new world)…. All regular stuff for an Orkneer. For instance: Across the field I spot a newborn lamb and as I get closer I realise it must be dead, lying limp and still. The birth sac is still across its body and head, so with my fingers I puncture it at the mouth and peel it off like a condom. The lamb immediately sneezes, shakes itself and breathes deeply before letting out a healthy baa. The mother, who had given up and wandered away, is alerted by the sound and trots back to begin licking her newborn. For me Amy kind of rams (get it?) her themes home a little too often: Britain is an island off Europe, Orkney is an island off Britain, Westray is an island off Orkney, Papay is an island off Westray and the Holm of Papay is at yet another remove. It’s where to go when life on Papay gets too hectic. Two typical Liptrot sentences: Breaking the peace of my lochside trudge, a swooping hen harrier terrifies and flushes assorted ducks and waders from the loch. I rub the scar on the back of my head. So okay, how did it all work out for Amy? I stride onwards… I am a lone figure in waterproofs walking the coastline, morning after morning, miles from anywhere, at the north of nowhere. But down here, inside myself, I feel powerful and determined. Well it’s not for me to put the boot into a lambkin when it’s struggling to get on its legs, so I shall refrain from further comment except to say : a mean-spirited 2.5 stars and an unmowed corncrake for Amy "Help me, Amy, help meeeeee..."

  3. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    The day Amy was born on the island of Orkney her father was sectioned and taken to an institute in Aberdeen. Not the most illustrious of starts. Apart from her fathers mental heath she has an idyllic childhood, she spent hours on the Outrun, a huge field that went right to the edge of the cliffs. Her mather and father were incomers to the island, and this field was part of the farm that they owned. There is precious little for teenagers to do on these remote Scottish islands and when she got tog The day Amy was born on the island of Orkney her father was sectioned and taken to an institute in Aberdeen. Not the most illustrious of starts. Apart from her fathers mental heath she has an idyllic childhood, she spent hours on the Outrun, a huge field that went right to the edge of the cliffs. Her mather and father were incomers to the island, and this field was part of the farm that they owned. There is precious little for teenagers to do on these remote Scottish islands and when she got together for parties, she started drinking, just wine and beer first, but what she most wanted was to go to the big cities; London was calling. London was exciting, full of life and new friends, but whilst there her alcohol problem spiralled out of control. Her daily pursuit of drinking herself into stupor lost her friends, jobs and partners, gained her a driving conviction until it reached the point where she could carry on no more. Admitted to Alcoholics Anonymous she stops drinking on on of the equinoxes, those pivot points of the seasons. Initial results are a success, so after three months she starts to apply for jobs again, but nothing seems to turn up. So reluctantly she makes the decision to return to Orkney. A decade has passed since she lived there, and now she is back at the age of 30. She now has to unpick and untangle the mess that she made of her life, provided she can stay sober. As she settles back in to island life, she has bleak and tough days, but there are times when the sun shines and the wind blows and she gains a little more clarity every time. She applies for jobs in London again, but when a job comes up on Orkney working for the RSPCA counting corncrakes, she gets it. Liptrot ends up tracking puffins and arctic terns amongst other creatures, and this exposure to nature opens wide her eyes for the possibilities that nature offers for her healing. An early interest in astronomy is rekindled too; this is one of the best places to see the stars with almost zero light pollution and there are the occasional glimpses of the Northern Lights. She joins a club that swims whenever possible in the breath-takingly cold sea, a much healthier way of getting the adrenaline rush she used to get from the bottle. It is a heart-rending book in lots of ways. She has similar traits to her father who has suffered from mental health issues all through his life, her parents had split too further adding to the stresses and strains of her life, and then she reaches rock bottom. Her return to Orkney and the time spent on the tiny island of Papay gives her an opportunity to find an alternative direction. The landscape, the harsh weather and the wildlife bringing a new purpose to her life. It is not always the easiest book to read, but Liptrot’s writing is beautiful and lyrical, she conveys just what she observes without it feeling overbearing or too wordy. She is a talent to watch out for in the future.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    Within the first few fragile months of her sobriety, Amy Liptrot moves from London back to her home in the Orkney Islands off Scotland’s northern coast. From here she writes with passion and fearless honesty about everything from her alcoholic lows to her most elevated moments in recovery, and the spectacularly unique setting of the remote island on which she lives. Since I’ve had time to think about and absorb what I read in these memoirs, I need to make this five instead of four stars. This hi Within the first few fragile months of her sobriety, Amy Liptrot moves from London back to her home in the Orkney Islands off Scotland’s northern coast. From here she writes with passion and fearless honesty about everything from her alcoholic lows to her most elevated moments in recovery, and the spectacularly unique setting of the remote island on which she lives. Since I’ve had time to think about and absorb what I read in these memoirs, I need to make this five instead of four stars. This hit home for me, bigtime. I’ve been sober for ten years, told my story many times in countless AA meetings, and every time I tell it I discover something new about myself. Amy’s journey in these pages is very much one of her own self-discovery. Stopping drinking is only the beginning… it’s actually the easiest part. But whatever it is that made her drink is still there inside her. How can she recognize that and change it? Can a person really change on such a deep level? My answer is yes, I believe we can. As I read, I marked pages where something really resonated with me or felt particularly insightful, and by time I was done the poor book was full of dog-eared pages and colored post-it notes. At this point, I can only think to share just a few of these passages. One night I had a moment, just a glimpse but it was expansive and ambitious, as if the blinkers were temporarily lifted and my view was flooded with the light, when I saw a sober life could be not only possible but full of hope, dazzling. I held on to that vision and told myself this was my last chance. If I didn’t change, there was nowhere else for me to go but into more pain. ... Every day on Papay, there’s a moment, looking back, facing into the northerly wind, at the coastline I’ve just walked, for instance, when my heart soars. I see starlings flocking, hundreds of individual birds forming and re-forming shapes in a liquid geometry, outwitting predators and following each other to find a place to roost for the night. The wind blows me from behind so strongly that I’m running and laughing. ... I didn’t know what would happen when I got sober, when I launched myself into the unknown future. I didn’t know I would return to Orkney. I didn’t know my strongest desire would be to hear the rasping call of the corncrake. I didn’t know I’d start swimming in the sea and taking my writing more seriously. I didn’t know I’d find myself alone climbing a steep hill on the country’s most remote island during a gale in the early January, buffeted by spindrift. But I had to give myself the chance to find out. Alcoholic daily drinking is not easy. It’s painful and lonely and shameful, yet learning how to live without booze is scary as hell. Amy is so obviously in terrible pain, and how gratifying it was to witness her metamorphosis and watch her find her true self, true happiness. And her story does not end here, it will continue on, one day at a time. But everything I’ve found in the past year is pulling me more strongly: the clear eyes and shooting stars, the fresh mornings when sleep has made me feel better rather than worse. The strength I feel when I end a day without having inebriated myself is true freedom. AMEN.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    This book was a must-read for me because of the setting, the Orkney Islands, but I came away even more impressed by it than I thought I would be. Part recovery memoir, true, but Amy Liptrot writes beautifully about nature and her connection to it. I could see the islands through her eyes, and felt the balm of the freezing water and isolated winds. I had a review copy of this but will be purchasing it from the UK since it won't come out here for months.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Dianne

    To be completely honest here, the sole reason I had for reading this was the setting of the book. I have a weird fascination with remote and isolated places - the Arctic circle, Antarctica, the Northwest Territories, and in this case, the Orkney Islands off Scotland's north coast between the Atlantic and the North Sea. My husband's father's family is from the Orkney Islands so when I read a review of this book and saw the setting, I was all in. This is a memoir of a young woman, Amy Liptrot, who To be completely honest here, the sole reason I had for reading this was the setting of the book. I have a weird fascination with remote and isolated places - the Arctic circle, Antarctica, the Northwest Territories, and in this case, the Orkney Islands off Scotland's north coast between the Atlantic and the North Sea. My husband's father's family is from the Orkney Islands so when I read a review of this book and saw the setting, I was all in. This is a memoir of a young woman, Amy Liptrot, who can't wait to get off her unexciting family farm in Orkney and head to London. When she does, she loses all control and becomes a raging alcoholic, drinking herself to the point that she cannot hold a job, keep relationships going or find a place to live. Amy enters a rehab program and manages to be one of the very few who are able to stop drinking. She moves back home to the Orkney Islands to recover and find her true self again. Amy's narration is interesting, but it does get repetitive after a while. She shares many, many, many times how much she wants to drink and has many, many, many metaphors for her struggles to remain sober. But - the wild windswept beauty of those lonely islands and the flora and fauna found there are the real revelation. That part of the book was all I hoped for and more. Lovely writing, a good debut.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Fiona

    The Outrun is an extraordinary narrative, a warts and all cathartic autobiographical account of recovery from alcoholism twinned with the most beautiful writing about Orkney’s natural world. Amy Liptrot’s parents came to Orkney from England more than 30 years ago but will always be incomers and Amy, although born on Mainland, Orkney, seems to identify more with being English than Orcadian. She left for / escaped to university in London and that began her downward spiral into addiction, mainly to The Outrun is an extraordinary narrative, a warts and all cathartic autobiographical account of recovery from alcoholism twinned with the most beautiful writing about Orkney’s natural world. Amy Liptrot’s parents came to Orkney from England more than 30 years ago but will always be incomers and Amy, although born on Mainland, Orkney, seems to identify more with being English than Orcadian. She left for / escaped to university in London and that began her downward spiral into addiction, mainly to alcohol. The Outrun is the story of her recovery which really only began when she returned to Orkney. There she found a new addiction to the natural world, finding a position as a corncrake counter with the RSPB. In her second year of sobriety, with the help of a bursary, she lived on Papay Westray which has a population of around 90 and her descriptions of the natural world there are quite stunning at times. She was also addicted to the internet through which she communicated with others obsessed with natural phenomena such as the Northern Lights or Merry Dancers, Fata Morgana, star and satellite, whale and shark watching, and so on. At times, I grew tired with the constant return to her recovery. The jumping from one paragraph to another, from the beauty of the landscape or seal watching to dismal London nightclubs or the rehab centre, was jarring at times. There is the occasional cringeworthy analogy. As a whole however, this is an inspirational story, detailing the reality of the easy descent into addiction and the difficult, lifelong road to recovery. As nature writing, it is beautiful and also inspiring. AL is working on her second book and I’m looking forward to it, although this will be a hard act to follow.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    BOTW http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06wclxn Description: Amy Liptrot's incisive memoir of overcoming alcoholism amid the luminous Orkney landscape. Liptrot grew up on a sheep farm on Orkney. She was shaped by the wind-swept islands, but longed for the excitement of the city. A move to London led to a life that was hedonistic and fun but she was unable to control her drinking. Her alcoholism exposed her to some terrifying situations and left her lost and lonely. At thirty she finds herself washed BOTW http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06wclxn Description: Amy Liptrot's incisive memoir of overcoming alcoholism amid the luminous Orkney landscape. Liptrot grew up on a sheep farm on Orkney. She was shaped by the wind-swept islands, but longed for the excitement of the city. A move to London led to a life that was hedonistic and fun but she was unable to control her drinking. Her alcoholism exposed her to some terrifying situations and left her lost and lonely. At thirty she finds herself washed up back home in Orkney, and discovers that this place she once longed to escape is curative, its wildness and lore playing an essential part in her recovery from addiction. Episode 1/5: Amy finds herself washed up and back home. 2/5: Back from the Brink: after hitting rock bottom in London Amy seeks treatment before the Orkney lambing season. 3/5: The Corncrake Wife: a job with the RSPB sees Amy scouring the islands nightly, listening for rare Corncrakes. 4/5: Rose Cottage: Amy has moved to tiny Papa Westray, one of the smallest inhabited Orkney islands. 5/5: Personal Geology: examining the fault lines bisecting her life, Amy questions why she became an alcoholic.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    OK, I've had a month to mull this over and have decided to remain with 3.5 stars. Pity I can't score that on the rating, so have rounded it down .... This is a beautifully written memoir of a recovering alcoholic gone back home to Orkney after the London life proved to be harmful to her health and well-being. Whilst I somewhat enjoyed it, I found it a bit self-absorbed at times (yes, I know it's a memoir ... see how hard I had to think about how to write this review?!). I also found the obsession OK, I've had a month to mull this over and have decided to remain with 3.5 stars. Pity I can't score that on the rating, so have rounded it down .... This is a beautifully written memoir of a recovering alcoholic gone back home to Orkney after the London life proved to be harmful to her health and well-being. Whilst I somewhat enjoyed it, I found it a bit self-absorbed at times (yes, I know it's a memoir ... see how hard I had to think about how to write this review?!). I also found the obsession with describing the Orkney wildlife and scenery a bit too David Attenburgh for me, although I think I understand why Amy has done this (addiction transference?). I did find some of the descriptions quite repetitive but it didn't annoy me so much that I would score it down for that alone. In all, it's not so bad.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Alice Mc

    This book appealed to me mainly for its setting in Orkney, a place I would love to visit someday. The descriptions of the island were beautiful and captivating. Having spent time on the remote islands of the Outer Hebrides I could relate to many of them. However, the more I read on, the more I found myself getting quite bored. Amy Liptrot writes beautifully, but it was a bit repetitive. I think I might have found it more engaging as a chronological memoir. As it is, she jumps between the Orkney This book appealed to me mainly for its setting in Orkney, a place I would love to visit someday. The descriptions of the island were beautiful and captivating. Having spent time on the remote islands of the Outer Hebrides I could relate to many of them. However, the more I read on, the more I found myself getting quite bored. Amy Liptrot writes beautifully, but it was a bit repetitive. I think I might have found it more engaging as a chronological memoir. As it is, she jumps between the Orkney Islands to London flashbacks, and it all feels a bit whimsical and detached - I struggled to relate and empathise with Amy even during the depths of her alcohol addiction. Just too "wordy" for me.

  11. 4 out of 5

    The Nerdwriter

    A clear-eyed memoir of recovery from alcohol addiction. Amy Liptrot's prose skips forward with assurance and clarity. The book is relatively short; so are the chapters, which makes this is a pretty quick read, but there is depth too. Reading The Outrun is like drinking cold water. The story is simple: Liptrot, who suffered from severe alcohol addiction in her twenties, moves back to her home in Orkney after completing a rehab program in London. Orkney is a collection of islands to the north of Sc A clear-eyed memoir of recovery from alcohol addiction. Amy Liptrot's prose skips forward with assurance and clarity. The book is relatively short; so are the chapters, which makes this is a pretty quick read, but there is depth too. Reading The Outrun is like drinking cold water. The story is simple: Liptrot, who suffered from severe alcohol addiction in her twenties, moves back to her home in Orkney after completing a rehab program in London. Orkney is a collection of islands to the north of Scotland, sparsely inhabited and ancient. In the solitude and nature that Orkney affords, Liptrot attempts to make sense of her mistakes and move on. What makes this book so valuable is the way Liptrot maps her recovery onto the natural environment. On the windswept islands of Orkney, Liptrot, a keen observer, finds patterns and metaphors that help her think through a difficult time. In this way, The Outrun is as much a nature guide as it is a memoir of addiction. She teaches you about the flora and fauna of these unique islands, explores some of its very long history and finds beautiful links between these things and her own life. All this makes it a joy to read. The Outrun is one of the most lucid memoirs I've read.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    Well one thing this book failed to do is stop my craving for visiting the Orkney Islands. So far I love everything about them, the remoteness, the history, the people, being able to experience the raw power of nature and the wildlife. One thing that doesn't appeal to me is the swimming in the sea, too cold for me, Amy Liptrot joined the Orkney polar bear club, another author who was a member who I read recently was Victoria Whitworth I'm curious to know if they ever met. The book was not what I w Well one thing this book failed to do is stop my craving for visiting the Orkney Islands. So far I love everything about them, the remoteness, the history, the people, being able to experience the raw power of nature and the wildlife. One thing that doesn't appeal to me is the swimming in the sea, too cold for me, Amy Liptrot joined the Orkney polar bear club, another author who was a member who I read recently was Victoria Whitworth I'm curious to know if they ever met. The book was not what I was expecting, I just assumed it would be about one of the islands. Amy's Alcohol addiction is woven into the story, she takes you on a journey from her birth to leaving the islands and moving to London where she developed the addiction, she shares the lowest points of her life, how she lost her friends, her dignity, her job and her home. At times things get very dark and you do worry for her. Eventually she goes to rehab and on her release moves back to the Islands to heal. She eventually moves onto a remote island and spends a lot of time alone, this must be a very tough thing to do when dealing with the addiction. The writing is wonderful, the places she visits are amazing, some are mind blowing, Sheep Rock for instance. I've learnt a lot about recovering alcoholics, I never quite grasped that the cravings never really go away and that you'll always have that inner voice telling you that a nice cold beer would be great right now. This was a great read and I hope Amy remains sober. Blog review is here. https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    From BBC Radio 4 - Book of the Week: Amy Liptrot's incisive memoir of overcoming alcoholism amid the luminous Orkney landscape. Liptrot grew up on a sheep farm on Orkney. She was shaped by the wind-swept islands, but longed for the excitement of the city. A move to London led to a life that was hedonistic and fun but she was unable to control her drinking. Her alcoholism exposed her to some terrifying situations and left her lost and lonely. At thirty she finds herself washed up back home in Orkne From BBC Radio 4 - Book of the Week: Amy Liptrot's incisive memoir of overcoming alcoholism amid the luminous Orkney landscape. Liptrot grew up on a sheep farm on Orkney. She was shaped by the wind-swept islands, but longed for the excitement of the city. A move to London led to a life that was hedonistic and fun but she was unable to control her drinking. Her alcoholism exposed her to some terrifying situations and left her lost and lonely. At thirty she finds herself washed up back home in Orkney, and discovers that this place she once longed to escape is curative, its wildness and lore playing an essential part in her recovery from addiction. 1/5: Amy finds herself washed up and back home. 2/5: After hitting rock bottom in London Amy seeks treatment before the Orkney lambing season. 3/5: a job with the RSPB sees Amy scouring the islands nightly, listening for rare Corncrakes. 4/5: Amy has moved to tiny Papa Westray, one of the smallest inhabited Orkney islands. 5/5: examining the fault lines bisecting her life, Amy questions why she became an alcoholic. Written by Amy Liptrot Read by Tracy Wiles Abridger: Sara Davies Producer: Simon Richardson. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06wclxn

  14. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    straight up 5 stars. I loved every word of this. Essential reading if you have taken part in hipster culture/gentrification, if you have ever been in recovery, if you have ever felt like your true home is on the internet, if you have ever realised that who you are is not who you are.... I have started reading this again, straight away.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Olive Fellows (abookolive)

    See my review on booktube: https://youtu.be/7A6jT35WEEQ See my review on booktube: https://youtu.be/7A6jT35WEEQ

  16. 5 out of 5

    Viv JM

    The Outrun is the author's memoirs of how, returning to the remote Orkney Islands were she grew up, she manages to recover from her alcoholism. It is a lovely testament to the healing power of nature, and I felt thoroughly immersed in the wildness and beauty of the islands, as described by Liptrot. I listened to the audiobook version, narrated very ably by Tracy Wiles, and thought the book worked especially well in audio format.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    My first reaction to this book is that it was a disappointing read for me. I am fascinated by islands, love Shetland, but haven't been to Orkney, and am interested in the natural life, history, and sociology of island societies. This book gave me too little of these things I expected. It has been compared to H is for Hawk, a book I loved. The comparison is superficial as they both deal with natural life, and emotional crises. The brief description that appears on GR and the book's cover refer to My first reaction to this book is that it was a disappointing read for me. I am fascinated by islands, love Shetland, but haven't been to Orkney, and am interested in the natural life, history, and sociology of island societies. This book gave me too little of these things I expected. It has been compared to H is for Hawk, a book I loved. The comparison is superficial as they both deal with natural life, and emotional crises. The brief description that appears on GR and the book's cover refer to the author overcoming an addiction. She is an alcoholic and demonstrates all of the self absorption that alcoholics often display. It struck me as I was close to the end of the book she rarely mentions other people, and when she does, she fails to spend any time describing them. The exceptions are her parents. Her father is bipolar and her mother is a born again Christian. She has a brother who is mentioned only 2 or 3 times. The people she mentions the most often are other addicts she met in rehab. Yet she has no time to include the people who have been kind to her, or helped her throughout her life. There are details about natural life on Orkney. History is also woven in. At times, these segments engaged me, but other times I wondered why detail was lacking. The stand out example of this was her chapter on Fair Isle, a fascinating part of the Shetlands I dream of visiting. While the chapter is 10 pages or so in length, it gave me almost no idea of what Fair Isle is like. For me, this was the realization of just how dissatisfied I was with this book. There aren't many books about the Orkneys, which is what led me to buy and read this book. There are plenty (maybe too many) memoirs about addiction. This book won a couple of small prizes and has a number of 5 star reviews here. I also found some readers who agreed with my take on the book. I honestly can't say who this book is for - perhaps readers interested in recovery from addiction in natural surroundings. I honestly can't say. It was probably a 2.5 star read for me and I am rounding it up to 3. I may reconsider and rate it 2 stars.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Put simply, this is a memoir about Amy Liptrot’s slide into alcoholism and her subsequent recovery; she also mulls over her father’s history of mental illness and the strain it put on her family. And yet it is about so much more that I’m tempted to say alcoholism is only the backstory, not the main thrust. Liptrot grew up on mainland Orkney, a tight-knit Scottish community she was eager to leave as a teenager but found herself returning to a decade later, washed up after the dissolute living and Put simply, this is a memoir about Amy Liptrot’s slide into alcoholism and her subsequent recovery; she also mulls over her father’s history of mental illness and the strain it put on her family. And yet it is about so much more that I’m tempted to say alcoholism is only the backstory, not the main thrust. Liptrot grew up on mainland Orkney, a tight-knit Scottish community she was eager to leave as a teenager but found herself returning to a decade later, washed up after the dissolute living and heartbreak she left behind in London. A simple existence, close to nature and connected to other people, was just what she needed during her first two years of sobriety. Her atmospheric writing about the magical Orkney Islands and their wildlife, rather than the slightly clichéd ruminating on alcoholism, is what sets the book apart. See my full review at Shiny New Books.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    Scottish book, Scottish author, dealing with alcoholism and recovering from it, about nature, and finding your way home. The book was right up my alley.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lindsey

    Brave, tender, unvarnished and beautifully written. Has to be one of the best books I've read in yonks. Well up there amongst my favourites. Brilliant.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Abby Green

    This book was a beautifully lyrical and rawly honest account of one woman's descent into darkness and her subsequent rebirth. Absolutely gorgeous. I will admit that I semi-skimmed the nature pieces, but only because I was more enthralled when she spoke of her personal experience. An inspiring and thought provoking read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Janneke

    'I'm back here, on these windy rocks, looking for hope in my imagination and my surroundings.' Another one for my collection of books set on isolated islands. And a wonderful one at that. Rough and poetic, and also with the clearest images of addiction I have ever come across. I loved it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Cathy

    Unflinchingly honest and insightful - full review to follow

  24. 5 out of 5

    Paula Bardell-Hedley

    "I'm gradually learning to say things sober that other people wait to say drunk." Without a doubt, this book has been my favourite read of 2017. It was a Christmas gift from my Mother, and I am ashamed to say that it remained on my TBR shelf for several months before I settled down to read it over a long weekend break in Barmouth Bay. I mention my whereabouts because The Outrun has at its heart the wild seas of the Orkneys, so the plaintive call of oystercatchers passing overhead merely added to "I'm gradually learning to say things sober that other people wait to say drunk." Without a doubt, this book has been my favourite read of 2017. It was a Christmas gift from my Mother, and I am ashamed to say that it remained on my TBR shelf for several months before I settled down to read it over a long weekend break in Barmouth Bay. I mention my whereabouts because The Outrun has at its heart the wild seas of the Orkneys, so the plaintive call of oystercatchers passing overhead merely added to my overall enjoyment of this remarkable book. Amy Liptrot's candid memoir is an exhilarating journey from the wild Scottish north of her upbringing to her sleazy, drunken, carousing years in London, by way of mental illness, romantic love and gradual addiction. However, Liptrot is no cry baby. She returns to her rugged homeland at her lowest ebb, and learns that it is possible to survive without alcohol as she listens for the mysterious nocturnal 'boom' of the corncrake and each morning plunges into the icy sea. The Outrun will, I am sure, be recognised as a classic of the genre for generations to come.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Arielle

    This took me nearly two months to read, which I think sums up my general feelings for the thing. While I sympathise with the author's struggles towards sobriety, if I had realised how completely the book would focus on - specimen-under-a-microscope focus on - the state of being an alcoholic I would never have picked it up in the first place. It's not the kind of reading I wish to engage with, for many reasons, and therefore have left one star beyond my feelings about the piece to compensate for This took me nearly two months to read, which I think sums up my general feelings for the thing. While I sympathise with the author's struggles towards sobriety, if I had realised how completely the book would focus on - specimen-under-a-microscope focus on - the state of being an alcoholic I would never have picked it up in the first place. It's not the kind of reading I wish to engage with, for many reasons, and therefore have left one star beyond my feelings about the piece to compensate for bias. The thing is, despite a few lovely descriptions of Orkney, the rest of the book is a repetitive navel-gazing near-diary piece, and I just couldn't manage more than a chapter at a time without having to leave the book behind for a few days.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Michael Livingston

    This is a lovely book: part recovery memoir, part nature writing, it tells the author's story as she sinks into alcoholism and chaos in London and slowly recovers herself exploring her childhood home, the Orkney Islands. Liptrop's writing on nature is stunning - the landscapes and animals are vivid, and you can feel the wind and rain slashing across the exposed islands. The metaphors linking the landscape and islands to her alcoholism and recovery feel a bit laboured at times, but the story is b This is a lovely book: part recovery memoir, part nature writing, it tells the author's story as she sinks into alcoholism and chaos in London and slowly recovers herself exploring her childhood home, the Orkney Islands. Liptrop's writing on nature is stunning - the landscapes and animals are vivid, and you can feel the wind and rain slashing across the exposed islands. The metaphors linking the landscape and islands to her alcoholism and recovery feel a bit laboured at times, but the story is brave, beautiful and moving. I've been googling corn crakes and looking at webcams from the Orkneys the whole time I've been reading it - it's really vivid stuff.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Furniss

    I listened to this on Radio 4 as it was Book Of The Week. This book is a very powerful, raw and honest account of alcoholism resulting in an uplifting tale of recovery aided by self discovery from returning to the authors roots on the wind swept Orkney Islands. I have seen very closely the devastating effects this disease can have so I approached this book cautiously and emotionally but I ultimately marvelled at the strength shown to pull through this disease to sobriety. Beautifully written and t I listened to this on Radio 4 as it was Book Of The Week. This book is a very powerful, raw and honest account of alcoholism resulting in an uplifting tale of recovery aided by self discovery from returning to the authors roots on the wind swept Orkney Islands. I have seen very closely the devastating effects this disease can have so I approached this book cautiously and emotionally but I ultimately marvelled at the strength shown to pull through this disease to sobriety. Beautifully written and the story really came alive through the narrator.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    This was recommended to me after I expressed my enjoyment of Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. Although from the outset it seems to be about similar things, it is a very different book. It took me a while to get through, but it's beautifully written and has made me want to visit Orkney very much.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Bart Van Overmeire

    "I want something to take the edge off. But I'm realising that times of anxiety are necessary and unavoidable and, in any case, I like the edge: it's where I get my best ideas. The edge is where I'm from. It's my home." Waw

  30. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    A lovely, lyrical, bittersweet dive into the healing brutality of nature. Especially lovely to read as a Brit living in Sweden - lots to identify with in the Orcadian landscapes.

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