Wales is my absolute favorite place on earth, and I thought I had seen quite a large amount of it, but Griff Rhys Jones has proven me wrong. Insufficiently Welsh, the book companion to his BBC television show, explores depths of Wales that even I missed in all my explorations. He has me so curious to see all the teeny, tiny hidden sites that I’ve missed in my travels to Cymru. An example? How did I go to Aberystwyth yet somehow miss a library that holds 6,000,000 books? Yes, you read that correctly. Six million books! I am salivating just thinking of the 118 miles of bookshelves that are needed to accommodate that many tomes. And I how did I, a foodie and lover of just about anything edible that comes out of the sea, miss out on fried cockles? Oh sure, I tried them cold and a wee bit slimy from the market in Swansea, but, as with any food, I am sure adding a crispy fry batter is a 100% improvement. (Dear readers, consider this a public service announcement: If you have not yet tried Welsh laverbread, just skip it. Trust me on this one).
Now since this book is a companion to a show, we readers get to see just how silly and false television is. Rhys Jones is tasked with some absurd challenges, such as finding the Holy Grail in Mid-Wales or having to rappel down a cliff and then do it again so that the camera crew can get shots from all angles. But in between these oddball television requirements, Rhys Jones visits some of Wales’s best gems: the fortified town walls of Conwy, the gorgeous coast and sea life of Angelsey, Hay-on-Wye also known as the town of books (and like Rhys Jones, I also didn’t buy a single book in the entire town, but not for lack of trying!), and many other uniquely Welsh places. Rhys Jones is funny and engaging, and his book is perfect for anyone who loves Wales or traveling or stories about finding one’s heritage.