So in my quest to read 1 book a month this year I've thus far read:
Up - Ben Fogle
This game of ghosts - Joe Simpson
Alone on the wall - Alex Honnold
9 out of 10 climbers - Dave Macleod
The fittest book in the world - Ross Edgley
Clouds from both sides - Julie Tullis
I need to crack on with my next book and i'm not sure what to go for. We've got "The tattooist of Auschwitz" at home, so do I go for a break from the climbing/adventure books and read that or do I download Kurt Diemberger's The endless knot and read his account of the K2 tragedy which sadly killed Julie Tullis after she'd written the above book?
Or something else..
Go for a break from climbing / advneture and try:
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson
Gets some pretty poor reviews on Amazon!
by coincidence a friend recommended that one to me. I looked it up online and it looks a bit rubbish - just trite and obvious stuff dressed up in some faux-punk language. Convince me otherwise, please, at least so I can respect my friend a bit more
It's a complete change of direction for you, but I've recently enjoyed reading Scrublands, by Chris Hammer. Expertly conjures up the heat of small town Australia, making it a nice summer read (also making you thankful that the UK isn't quite that unforgiving).
What with this and Jane Harper's books, I've found myself reading a bit of Australian crime fiction recently. Very good it's been too.
Stick with climbing and try 'Punk in the gym' brilliantly chaotic!.
I'm reading The Last Grain Race by Eric Newby and enjoying it very much. In 1938 Newby joined the crew of a barque bound for Australia to carry grain back home, circumnavigating the world in an incredibly tough (but at the time routine) journey.
There's a lot of sailing terminology to get through but it's a great tale, Newby is wryly funny and brilliant at describing people.
Now that looks interesting, especially as I love sailing too! I read Joshua Slocum's round the world book last year and loved it.
That looks like it'll be entertaining. Expensive for a kindle book though!
> by coincidence a friend recommended that one to me. I looked it up online and it looks a bit rubbish - just trite and obvious stuff dressed up in some faux-punk language. Convince me otherwise, please, at least so I can respect my friend a bit more
Same could be said about any "self help" book, but I grant you, it is full of soundbyte type stuff - was given it on holiday and read some of it, didnt finish it (or get that far) - was being my usual flippant self when "recommending" it - sorry WaterMonkey, me bad!
One recent book I did genuinely enjoy however was Kerby by Graeme Johnston - tales of growing up in Scotland the 90’s but relatable to most locations and eras
I must admit I went through a phase of reading "adventure" books but they all got a bit samey - although one that sticks out in the mind is Lost in Mongolia: Rafting the World's Last Unchallenged River by Colin Angus, that may appeal to WaterMonkey
Have a read of Barrow's Boys https://www.amazon.co.uk/BarrowS-Boys-Fergus-Fleming/dp/1862075026
Several excellent stories of exploration, adventure, sailing and outright lunacy
The Tatooist is a wonderful book, thought provoking and heartbreaking.
Don’t let me discourage you from reading a non climbing book but Wade Davis’s “into the Silence” about the 1920’s Everest expeditions, I found an outstanding read because of its sheer range and it’s evocation of the last era of exploration.
In that case, anything by H.W. Tilman. Proper adventuring.
Another book that’s given me a kick up the backside recently is Strange Labyrinth by Will Ashon. Ostensibly about dicking about in Epping Forest and failing to find things he’s looking for, it’s actually a very political book about the repossession of the commons, dispossessed artists, Crass ((the band) through interviews with Penny Rimbaud), and various other outsiders.
Loaded with authorial dialogue and contact with the reader. It’s unique and quite a ride.
The tagline is “Outlaws, Poets, Mystics, Murderers and a coward in London’s Great Forest”.
This is Going to Hurt - Adam Kay. Anger-inducing, sad, but mainly very very funny. Only read in public if you don't mind laughing like a lion.
Seconded. And if mountaineering is the OPs bag, then A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush by the same is a masterpiece
> This is Going to Hurt - Adam Kay. Anger-inducing, sad, but mainly very very funny. Only read in public if you don't mind laughing like a lion.
... and if you like that, try The Secret Barrister (Stories of the Law and how it's broken) not as funny, but just as worthwhile reading.
The tattooist is a terrible book. A great story ruined by being written appallingly. There are dozens of books on The Holocaust and Auschwitz that will give you a far better insight to the horror.
Eyewitness Aushwitz by Filip Muller is a good place to start.
> Eyewitness Aushwitz by Filip Muller is a good place to start.
Or 'If This is a Man' by Primo Levi.
Perhaps If This Is a Man by Primo Levi should be mentioned as a most affecting book about this subject.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Everyone's knows the title, but I imagine much fewer have read it. It's 'interesting' and definitely thought-provoking but I'd struggle to call it a page-turner.
Or if you want a lighter weight and thoroughly entertaining book about Primo Levi's commercial experiences as a chemist, try The Periodic Table. There is one story per element; fabulous, now I must see if I still have my copy or if it got borrowed
I found Zen... a page turner (about 45 years ago!). Outstanding.
> Or 'If This is a Man' by Primo Levi.
And 'The sorrow of war' by Bao Ninh.
A North Vietnamese veteran tries to comes to terms with his disrupted life. A book banned by his government and one of the most human stories I have ever read. On a par with 'If this is a man'
In the same vein, "We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families" is a truly harrowing account of the Rwandan genocide. Hard reading.
Yes, really good book, any others by Levi?
> Yes, really good book, any others by Levi?
If Not Now, When? is one of his best IMO.
My favourite with respect to the war and the Jewish experience is the Drowned and the Saved. It is not at all an easy read as it contains the idea that the Jews were somehow responsible for their fate, and that those who died (the Saved) were those that took on the responsibility, and those that did not die (the Drowned) were those that survived and were in some way compromised by their decisions. Yikes.
> I found Zen... a page turner (about 45 years ago!). Outstanding.
I’ve read it 4 times over the decades, each time getting something new from it
May I recommend Halldor Laxness's 'Independent People'. Laxness won Iceland's only Nobel Prize for his writing. It is about a sheep farmer trying to make it in southern Iceland.
A tough people making Alpinists look like brownies (nothing against brownies).
> I'm reading The Last Grain Race by Eric Newby and enjoying it very much.
As well as the excellent writing, I can't get over the photos he took; using 1930s technology, up the mast, in a gale. There is another book the name of which I forget which collects many more photos from the trip and makes a nice companion.
A Brief History of Time is actually very good if OP is looking for non-climbing non-fiction, or if he still has an appetite for mountains I notice Touching the Void is conspicuous in its absence.
> A Brief History of Time is actually very good if OP is looking for non-climbing non-fiction, or if he still has an appetite for mountains I notice Touching the Void is conspicuous in its absence.
Both great books, read them a while ago. Then I got my daughter (at quite a young age) to read A brief history of time, which then spurred her on and she is now studying astrophysics at uni!
On a less heavy note,
Neutral Buoyancy, Adventures in a Liquid World. Tim Ecott
A book that makes you want to take up diving.
A subculture as absorbing as climbing
Yes, plus his camera got soaked in saltwater during a storm and he spent several weeks getting it working again. The description of the storm in the southern ocean is exceptionally vivid and moving. He was 18 at the time I believe.
I have read several accounts by sailors of tackling the Southern Ocean and none comes near to Eric Newby's description. His pictures are phenomenal. One of my favourite books about the sea.
> One recent book I did genuinely enjoy however was Kerby by Graeme Johnston - tales of growing up in Scotland the 90’s but relatable to most locations and eras
I like all of Eric Newby's books, the Hind Kush story was our inspiration for a trip out there.
In my humble opinion Fiva by Gordon Stainforth (of this parish) rivals Touching the Void for suspense and I often wonder which way round they would be compared if Fiva had been published first.
Another book suggestion that is not an easy read.... but an absolutely terrifying view of what our political near future holds.
> In my humble opinion Fiva by Gordon Stainforth (of this parish) rivals Touching the Void for suspense and I often wonder which way round they would be compared if Fiva had been published first.
Hmm, perhaps I should get round to reading it
> Yes, really good book, any others by Levi?
The Drowned and the Saved, and Moments of Reprieve are well worth seeking out. As is The Periodic Table - for 'Carbon' alone.
+1 for If not now, When?
God, yes, I remember that one.
I’m way up on the north coast currently, so I’m going to recommend Beside the Ocean of Time, by George Mackay Brown.
> I’m way up on the north coast currently, so I’m going to recommend Beside the Ocean of Time, by George Mackay Brown.
What an excellent suggestion. A beautiful book.
On a different note, I'm currently reading The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst by Nicholas Tomalin and Ron Hall. It's a fascinating account of the bizarre behaviour of Crowhurst in the round-the-world yacht race in 1968/69.
Watch the fourth event of the Austria Climbing Summer Series live from 7:15 p.m. UK time tonight. The finals of the second Lead competition in the series will take place on the legendary outdoor climbing wall in Imst, Austria....