I read a lot on my summer vacation.
I know, that is not the most exciting way to start my first blog post since ten weeks of climbing adventures in India and France.
Expeditions include lots of travel time, days of required rest while acclimatizing and of course some bad weather, so good books are key. I always find it interesting to learn what others read...so here is what I read, in the order I read them, each one reviewed in 20 words or less. I'd love to know what you've been reading, too!
(To learn about our India trip, you can read stories from Emilie Drinkwater’s perspective or check out our trip reports for the Polartec Challenge Grant committee and one of our generous sponsors, Mountain Hardwear. I also was lucky enough to spend a few weeks in France on the way to India, which I wrote about here and here.)
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
By Laura Hillenbrand
Plane crash; lost at sea; shark attacks; torture; PTSD. Thoughts of my grandpa Fred. Brilliant blend of history and biography.
One Mountain Thousand Summits: A Story of Tragedy and True Heroism on K2
By Freddie Wilkinson
This book is written by my husband and dedicated to me. To me! You should buy 20 copies.
A Journey in Ladakh
By Andrew Harvey
The only book I could find about the region of India that we traveled to. Kind of a generic travelog.
“It is good the river will not stop roaring and lunging through its dark gorges, whatever happens to the village, or the monastery. The things that ignore us save us in the end. Their presence awakens silences in us; they refresh our courage with the purity of their detachment.”
Anthropology of an American Girl
If you are one of the few who have not read this yet, you must. It is a runaway bestseller for good reason.
Passionate Nomad: The Life of Freya Stark
Jane Fletcher Geniesse
A lady’s high adventures in the early 20th century Middle East, full of politics, chauvinists, bed bugs and camels. Why had I never heard of her?
Three quotes from letters she wrote:
“The word ecstasy is always related to some discovery, a novelty to sense or spirit, and it is in search of this word that in love, religion, in art or in travel, the adventurous are ready to face the unknown.”
“There is a certain madness comes over one at the sight of good map.”
“Perseverance is often praised, but it is not so often realized that another quality must accompany it to make it of any value – and that is elasticity; perseverance in only one direction very often fails: but if one is ready to take whatever road is offered, and to change the chosen way, if circumstances, and yet to keep the end in view – then success is infinitely more probable.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
A fascinating book blending modern science, American history and southern culture (all for better or worse) through one family’s unlikely story.
The most out there, wacked out, weirdest book I read all summer. I loved it like a geek loves their chickens.
A World Made By Hand
James Howard Kunstler
A post-apocolyptic story told with a hopeful spin. Readable, thought provoking - and a downright fascinating topic.
Call of the Wild
Anthropomorphism at its very finest! Freddie gave me White Fang a while ago, so this was the natural next step.
“There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life, and beyond which life cannot rise. And such is the paradox of living, this ecstasy comes when one is most alive, and it comes as a complete forgetfulness that one is alive.”
“There is a patience of the wild - dogged, tireless, persistent as life itself – that holds motionless the spider in its web, the snake in its coils, the panther in its ambuscade.”
Light at the Edge of the World
Saw him speak at Telluride - he speaks as well as he writes. Unique anthropology/ethnobotany stories from around the world.
Anthropology of an American Girl
Hilary Thayer Hamann
Probably my least favorite of the trip. Still, it’s readable fiction and helped in passing time on the long journey home.
“There are those who risk to ascertain that they have nothing; that they need nothing. They are open to prospect and blind to hazard because they’ve been hurt, which is just another way of saying informed. They are bodies moving through space, inviolate and impermeable. They are full on the inside; nothing beyond can speak on their behalf. They require no validation; they are owners of themselves.”