Treasured Islands’ blurb says that there are 6,000 islands around the coast of the British Isles, and that only 194 of them are inhabited – all of which it claims are covered here.
That turns out not to be the case – wee Cumbrae in the Firth of Forth, home to one of only two Gertrude Jekyll gardens in Scotland, isn’t included for instance despite being inhabited.
Yet this is still a fairly comprehensive list of the islands around our coasts, with close on 150 pages being dedicated to Scotland’s huge number of islands, from St Kilda and Shetland to Ailsa Craig.
It would, however, be easy to take issue with this guidebook on several fronts. The main one is scale – it allots more space to tiny Sanday than it does to massive Mull, while more words are given over to Eigg than to Skye, the huge neighbour which dwarfs it.
There is also a tendency to pick one aspect of an island and concentrate on it to the exclusion of all other virtues or deficiencies.
So in the section on Skye, for instance, there is a short passage about the artisan foods on offer but no mention of the astonishing range of fine dining on the island, including six entrants in the Michelin Guide and another formerly Michelin-starred restaurant at Kinloch House.
Yet for all its manifest imperfections, I absolutely loved this book.
If, rather than taking this as a comprehensive guidebook, you use it as food for your imagination and fuel for your wanderlust, then you can lose hours at a time flicking aimlessly through its pages.
There’s something deeply appealing about island life and Peter Naldrett manages to capture that sense of their quirkiness, insularity and unique cultures.
On a purely practical level there is also more than enough information in this beguiling book to allow you to plan your journey.
Given the wealth of information available on the internet, the nuts and bolts is the easy bit – Naldrett’s achievement is to light the fire and give readers the kick-start to want to find out more.
Treasured Islands, by Peter Naldrett, published by Bloomsbury, £18.99.