Category Archives: Books

Summer Reading Top Picks

My summer reading top picks are books about the outside! Of course! Pick up any of these for some summer reading pleasure!

Summer Reads

(If you click on a picture, it is an affiliate link, which will take you to Amazon via my affiliate link where I may get a few cents if you buy a book! Thanks!)

The Tower


Famous climber Cesare Maestri with his partner claimed first ascent on Cerro Torre, a beautiful ice capped peak in Patagonia in 1959.  His partner died on the descent.  Many world class climbers attempted to climb this route in the years following but never were able to duplicate the summit, with the rumor that Maestri did not make the summit. Maestri always insisted that he had done it. But did he?  Kelly Cordes explores this fascinating mystery. Even if you are not a climber, it’s a well written interesting read.  Did he make the first ascent?

Lost in the Wild

This book is two stories: two separate people who became lost in the woods. Spoiler alert, they do both live. It’s a very interesting story to see what little, small mistakes can turn into HUGE problems when you are in the woods alone.  Even though I knew the men were rescued, I was literally on the edge of my seat when the rescuers almost missed him.

Tales from Out There: The Barkley Marathons

If you are an ultra runner or KNOW an ultra runner, you may have seem the documentary “The Barkley: The Race that Eats it Young”.  This book is the history of The Barkley written by Frozen Ed Furtaw. If you are thinking of running The Barkley, you need this book. If you are just interested in Barkley lore, you need to read this book.

Deep Survival

Yes another survival book. They do interest me!  This is a compilation of stories. It goes into the psychological side of survival, meaning why do certain personality traits help you to stand fast and get out of your situation, when other people may simply cave and die?

Micro Adventures

You can have an adventure in your backyard.  Alistair Humphreys shows you how in this simple book to have an adventure in your backyard or the next town over.   Keep your adventurer close to home!

Everest: Expedition to the Ultimate

Maybe your adventurer is fascinated by Mount Everest. There’s many books on Everest.  I have a few others than could be considered favorites, but Reinhold Messner was the first person to ascend Everest without supplemental oxygen.

Be Brave Be Strong: A Journey Across the Great Divide

Jill Homer is a writer and adventurer. This is her adventure as a bike rider in the Tour Divide, which is riding your bike-across mountains-from Banff, Alberta to the Mexican Border of the Untied States.  By herself.  (She rode with other bikers at time.) Jill rocks!  I’ve read this book several times over.

The Last Season


Eric Blehm

A comelling narrative about a back country ranger who worked for the National Park Service for 28 years-and just abruptly disappeared one summer. A very interesting read.

What is on your summer reading list for this fleeting summer?

 

 

 

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Books On My Reading List

Books on my Reading List

(This post contains affiliate links. If you click on a book, it will take  you to Amazon, where if you buy the book thru my link,  I receive a few pennies.)

One of my goals for 2017 is to read more books.  I’ve started a list of books that I want to read.

Thanks to Hamilton: An Americal Musical many of my books are about American History these days. I am still reading Chernow.

Then I want to read     Burr by Gore Vidal. I may have read this a few years ago. I’m sure after I start reading it I will remember. Or not.

I found this American Revolution Book I bought 16 years ago and still have not read: The Founding of a Nation by Merrill Jensen  

I bought this book several months ago and have not started it yet.

There are the books already on my Kindle that I have not gotten around to read yet.

 

I’ve heard very good reviews of this book:  

A fellow runner’s book I have not read yet:

A short book by Brendan Leonard:

Also recommended was this book:

Did you read books still? Any recommendations after  I finish these?

Ten Books for the Outside Adventurer for Christmas

books for your outside adventurer at ChristmasDo you  have an outside adventurer in your life, whether she/he is a runner, climber, biker, surfer?  Looking for something interesting for them to read in their off season?  Here are ten books in different categories for a Christmas present for your outside adventurer.

(If you click on a picture, it is an affiliate link, which will take you to Amazon via my affiliate link where I may get a few cents if you buy a book! Thanks!)

The Tower


Famous climber Cesare Maestri with his partner claimed first ascent on Cerro Torre, a beautiful ice capped peak in Patagonia in 1959.  His partner died on the descent.  Many world class climbers attempted to climb this route in the years following but never were able to duplicate the summit, with the rumor that Maestri did not. Maestri always insisted that he had done it. But  had he?  Kelly Cordes explores this fascinating mystery. Even if you are not a climber, it’s a well written interesting read.  Did he make the first ascent?

Lost in the Wild

This book is two stories: two separate people who became lost in the woods. Spoiler alert, they do both live. It’s a very interesting story to see what little, small mistakes can turn into HUGE problems when you are in the woods alone.  Even though I knew the men were rescued, I was literally on the edge of my seat when the rescuers almost missed him.

Tales from Out There: The Barkley Marathons

If you are an ultra runner or KNOW an ultra runner, you may have seem the documentary “The Barkley: The Race that Eats it Young”.  This book is the history of The Barkley written by Frozen Ed Furtaw. If you are thinking of running The Barkley, you need this book. If you are just interested in Barkley lore, you need to read this book.

Deep Survival

Yes another survival book. They do interest me!  This is a compilation of stories. It goes into the psychological side of survival, meaning why do certain personality traits help you to stand fast and get out of your situation, when other people may simply cave and die?

Personal Record: A Love Affair with Running

Is there a runner in your life?  Runners like to read about running.  This is a collection of stories written by the talented Rachel Toor. I enjoyed them all, especially the one personal story written just after 911.

Micro Adventures

You do not have to travel to Nepal or South Africa to have an adventure! Alistair Humphreys shows you how in this simple book to have an adventure in your backyard or the next town over.   Keep your adventurer close to home!

Everest: Expedition to the Ultimate

Maybe your adventurer is fascinated by Mount Everest. There’s many books on Everest.  I have a few others than could be considered favorites, but Reinhold Messner was the first person to ascend Everest without supplemental oxygen.

Funny Shit in the Woods: The Best of Semi-Rad

Brendan Leonard is my favorite outdoor writer.  His blog posts are the ones that my close friends send to one another, usually with the comment “Brendan hit another one out of the park:.  Brendan has two other books out, but this would be a good compilation to give your wanna be climber/hiker/van lover.

Be Brave Be Strong: A Journey Across the Great Divide

Jill Homer is a writer and adventurer. This is her adventure as a bike rider in the Tour Devide, which is riding your bike-across mountains-from Banff, Alberta to the Mexican Border of the Untied States.  By herself.  (She rode with other bikers at time.) Jill rocks!  I’ve read this book several times over.

Feet in the Clouds: A Story of Fell Running and Obsession

This is about fell running, which is running over mountains, sometimes multiples, on whatever line you want to take down or up the mountain, which may or not follow a trail. Usually the weather is awful. This is a classic running book by Richard Askwith. If you are interested in the running scene outside the United States, this is a good book to own.

Do you have any books to recommend for Santa to bring to me on Christmas Day? Please leave a comment!

Project 50-Reading Sherlock Holmes for the very First Time

Project 50-Reading Sherlock Holmes for the very First Time

 

Sherlock Holmes

 

In all my years of voracious reading, I had never read a Sherlock Holmes book.  I read Agatha Christie at a young age, but the detective Mr Holmes never really interested me.

I decided reading a Holmes novel was a good Project 50 activity.

Sherlock Holmes

Result? Very much enjoyment.

I started with “A Study in Scarlet”.  After consulting the internet, it seemed I should have started with more of the short stories. But this was where Holmes and Dr. Watson met.  It wasn’t bad. The Tonga section was kind of boring.

“Hound of the Baskervilles” was much better after “A Study in Scarlet”, more mystery.

I didn’t realize most of the Holmes stories were short stories! I read many of these. Easy to read and follow.

I was surprised to see that Professor Moriarty was only in one short story. Even though I had never read or watched any of the Sherlock Homes TV/movie shows, I know of the characters.

 

I did read The Valley of Fear where Dr  Moriarty was referenced. Another interesting read. I believe I read most of the novels/stories that were in the Kindle edition of the Sherlock Holmes stories.

 

Is there a “classic” book that you have never read? Why not try Sherlock Holmes?

 

Read Any Books Today?

Today is Read Across America, a nationwide reading celebration that takes place on March 2, Dr Seuss’s birthday.

 

Read Across AmericaAre you reading any books? Do you have a reading list?

I read almost exclusively on my Kindle. It was a great invention.  Back in the old days, I would buy a best seller, read it, and now what do I do with it? It sat on the shelf taking up valuable space. (Does anyone want the first ten or so Tom Clancy best sellers?) The Kindle changed all that. I can take ten or ONE HUNDRED books on the airplane with me!

I did feel very Jean Luc Picard with my Kindle. Still do.

 

Pic found at http://atulchitnis.net/2012/the-rise-of-the-tablets/

Pic found at http://atulchitnis.net/2012/the-rise-of-the-tablets/

I read many books. I am not afraid to quit reading a book if it sucks. Life is too short to drink bad wine and finish poorly written books.

I read pretty ecletically, whatever catches my imagination and interest of the moment.  I appreciate more word of mouth recommendations than written reviews, usually gleaned from somewhere I read or on a podcast I have listened to.

Books I have read and enjoyed lately:

Kindred by Octavia Butler

The Martian by Andy Weir

Just for the Love of it: The First Woman to Climb Mt Everest from both sides by Kathy O’Dowd

Sand by Hugh Howey

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

In honor of Groundhog Day, my favorite time travel books

In honor of GroundHog Day, my favorite time travel books!

Gobblers Knob

 

Of course everyone has seen “Groundhog Day” with Bill Murray who is forced to wake up every day to Sonny and Cher singing “I Got You Babe” and relive February Second over and over again.

 

I love a good time travel book.  My favorite in the genre of the Groundhog Day movie is “Replay” by Ken Grimwood. Jeff feels himself dying at age 43, only to regain consciousness as himself at age nineteen, in the 60’s.  He does “die” again, same date, and wakes up again, as himself, a few years older.  He chooses to live out each “life” in a different way.

 

My favorite time travel book is “Doomsday Book” by Connie Willis.  Set in the near future, the University regularly sends scholars back in time to study history. Kivrin is set to go back to the middle ages, when she gets sent back to the  wrong decade, the start of the bubonic plague.  The book flashes between Kivrin’s dealing with this horrific sickness, and her professor trying to get the equipment and people in place to go rescue her, in the middle of their modern influenza crisis.  The first time reading this, I couldn’t put it down as I got to the end.

 

Another book where the protagonist deliberately goes into the past is 11/22/63  by Stephen King. King novels have gotten way too wordy for me, but I actually read this entire book of his. After Jake’s first visit to the past of 1958, he fins t hat he can keep going. He goes back again and again to try and prevent the assassination  of John F Kennedy.

 

Two books where the protagonist has no control over their time travel: “The Time Traveler’s Wife” and “Kindred”.

 

Time Traveler’s Wife: Imagine being married and in love with a man who pops up in and out of your life and leaves you. He has no control over this!  A beautiful written book.

 

Kindred by Octavia Butler  was a new book  to me as I surfed for time travel books.  Dana is yanked back in time in order to save a young white boy from drowning in the mid 1800s.  It turns out that this young man is an old ancestor of hers. Dana  is a young black woman from the 1970s.  She is involvontarily brought back to the plantation where her ancestor lives, in order to save his life over and over.  She has to spend time on the plantation, living life as a slave, until she can be sure her future generation is born, therefore knowing her own life will continue.

 

A very popular time travel book series (and now TV series) is Outlander by Diana Gabaldon  Claire travels back in time, meets Jamie, a Scottish highlander, and eventually has to choose between living in her time, the 20th century, and his time.  There are now many books in the series now and it’s a fun romantical adventure.  These tomes do become a bit wordy over the years, but I still like reading them.  I have watched the HBO series and will probably watch the upcoming season too.

 

Do you have any time travel book recommendations? Let’s hear them!

Book Review: The Tower Cerro Torre

Book Review Cerro Torre

Book Review:

The Tower: A Chronicle of Climbing and Controversy on Cerro Torre

 

This book would seem like it is mainly targeting a niche audience, the climbing world, but I am not a climber.  I don’t aspire to be a climber (although it would be cool to try some day) but I got sucked into a podcast called The Enormocast  which is all about climbing.

This isn’t unusual for me. I’m also a big triathlon fan; I listen to several triathlon podcasts and could rattle off top pros and races for that genre.

I guess this isn’t that strange after all; how many millions of golf and NASCAR fans are out there that never pick up a club or climb into a car?

I started listening to The Enormocast in 2012, just after Hayden Kennedy and Jason Kruk climbed the south wall of Cerro Torree by fair means.  They then removed 120 bolts of the infamous Compressor Route.  Chris Kalous, the host of  The Enormocast interviewed Hayden not too long after this.

Cerro Torre is a big mountain in Patagonia, unclimbed until 1959. it was climbed in 1959, which was a feat was light years ahead of anyone else.  It remained unclimbed until 2005.  The persons that climbed it were Cesare Maestri and Toni Egger. Egger died on the descent.

 

This book, by Kelly Cordes, a climber and also a voice known on podcasts (The Dirtbag Diaries) is an interesting piece on the history entwining Cerro Torre.  It started with Cesare Maestri, a famous Italian climber, who along with Toni Egger, ascended the north-east ridge of the unclimbed Cerro Torre in 1959.  On the descent, an avalanche claimed the life of Toni Egger and the only camera with documentation of the summit.

Over time, doubt crept in whether or not Maestri ever reached the summit.

It seemed like Maestri was pretty miffed about people not believing he summited Cerro Torre. 

Maestri returned in 1970 to Patagonia, this time armed with an air compressor and bolts. He climbed a new route on the south-east side of the mountain. Over two seasons Maestri used a petrol-driven compressor, weighing approximately 300 pounds, and thousands of feet of fixed ropes to drill bolts into the rock, some 400 in all. The resulting route became known as the “Compressor Route.”  It made it much  “easier”for a climber to reach the summit of Cerro Torre.

On January 16, 2012 the climbers Hayden Kennedy and Jason Kruk made the first “fair-means” ascent of the south-east ridge of Cerro Torre. On their descent Kennedy and Kruk chopped about 120 bolts from the “Compressor Route,” effectively removing it from the mountain. Days later, on January 21, 2012 the climber David Lama made the first free ascent of the south-east ridge.

Whew! Okay, that’s the bones of the story, there is much more to it, and Kelly spins a very good tale of history of the mountain, the climbers, how technology has changed for climbers over the years.  I really enjoyed reading this, as I had also forgotten the second backstory, David Lama’s free ascent after the bolts were gone. Also, the death of a climber in the same mountains, and the climbers (Kruk and Kennedy) reactions to their friend’s death.

A good and interesting read. Cordes goes into the history of climbing in the various eras; the personalities involved, and the history of Cerro Torre and the mystery of that first ascent and unanswered questions.

I wrote the bones of this on January 5, and was happy to see Chris dropped his interview with Kelly Cordes on Jan 6, on The Enormocast.  I found it a bit interesting as Chris and Kelly spoke; Maestri had, as Kelly said, ‘free soloed many routes; but maybe, looking at it as most disbelieve his Cerro Torre summit, how many other first ascents could have been made up also?

Cordes says in his interview with Chris, that Maestri is a tragic figure in this; I agree.  Once the (alleged) lie begins, and all celebrate his success, how does one back this off? How could you turn and say “hey, this actually did not happen”.  How hard is it, to live your life as a lie? Is it a lie? Did Maestri actually summit Cerro Torre?

 

Really, this is a fascinating subject. From Maestri’s 1959 and 1970 visit to Cerro Torre, to Kruk and Kennedy’s free ascent-and subsequent internet shitstorm brou-ha.
Go listen to The Enormocast interview with Hayden Kennedy Part One and Two; and then  listen to the Kelly Cordes interview.  And oh yeah! Go buy the book!

Disclaimer: nobody gave me anything to write this review; I just really enjoyed the story and the podcasts!