What Book Are You Reading Now, Round 2.


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little Z

Trad climber
un cafetal en Naranjo
Nov 18, 2017 - 05:56am PT
sycorax - it's on deck, at the top of the stack of my bargain book haul

Credit: little Z

Boulder climber
Salt Lake, UT
Nov 18, 2017 - 03:10pm PT
Another Vietnam novel I'd highly recommend is Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes. Marlantes won the Navy Cross, a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts, so on top of being a good writer, has the experience to back up the writing.

I just finished Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher by Timothy Egan. Biography of Edward Curtis, who was a pretty interesting character.
Fossil climber

Trad climber
Atlin, B. C.
Nov 23, 2017 - 01:06pm PT
Here's a first book which will knock your sox off, Lands of Lost Borders by Kate Harris. An Atlin gal whom I like to think of as an Honorary Grand Daughter. Here's what Dave Roberts has to say about it (from Facebook):

Dave Roberts

"Last week I came home from Banff, and from the cozy little writers’ dinner my agent, Stuart Krichevsky, hosted, with a galley copy of Kate Harris’s forthcoming book, Lands of Lost Borders. I first met Kate six or seven years ago at Banff, where she was enrolled in the writing program. Bernadette McDonald told me that one of the students there was a gifted, promising writer, but that she was too shy to approach me for advice. We had a good chat in the MacLab bistro, and later I read an early draft of her book, which hangs an inquiry on the meaning of exploration on a grueling ten-month bike journey along the Silk Road that Kate and her best friend accomplished in their mid-twenties.

Here, I realized, was a writer of uncommon intelligence with a penchant for the lyrical, but the draft seemed hamstrung by a certain academic rigidity. No wonder—Kate was a former Rhodes scholar who had pursued a doctorate in science at MIT. But Bernadette was right: what promise she showed! I passed her on to Stuart, who, seeing the same talent and lucidity that impressed me, took her on.

I finished Lands of Lost Borders two days ago. Old cliché: I couldn’t put it down. But beyond the fact that Kate’s story hooked me, I realized that I was witnessing the emergence of a formidable voice speaking startlingly original things about the world. I can’t remember coming upon a first book that so dazzled me. I wish that at her age I had had half the skills that Kate unearthed in herself, and that now, with Stuart’s help, she had transmuted into prose.

The care and fresh insight show in virtually every sentence. Of an old woman met along the road in post-Soviet Georgia: “A gold ring hung on her thin finger, loosely orbiting the bone—a hand that had held hunger once and probably expected to grip it again.” Of an aperçu wrung from a truck speeding past in the muddy night: “Every heartbeat is a history of decisions, of certain roads taken and others forsaken until you end up exactly where you are.” Of the mystic pleasures of marathon biking: “I’m not sure where I go when I spin wheels for hours on end like that, except into the rapture of doing nothing deeply—although ‘nothing,’ in this case, involves a tantrum of pedal strokes on a burdened bicycle along a euphemism for a highway through the Himalaya.” “Beautiful writing” per se, though, is not my cup of tea. I can’t read Lawrence Durrell, Annie Dillard, or Rebecca Solnit. All of the craft that goes into each of Kate’s paragraphs is marshaled in the service of an accelerating plot, and toward the end of her book, her restless intelligence rises to a cri de coeur in Chinese-occupied Tibet against the tyranny of nations, xenophobia, and cultural oppression.

Yes, the biking itself often sounds arduous and lonely, the furtive campsites grim, the moments of joy too fleeting. But some of the best stories are woven out of desperate adventures: think of Apsley Cherry-Garrard or Fridtjof Nansen. My own second book, Deborah, narrated a two-man journey into our own psychic hell in Alaska. Shortly after we met, my longtime buddy Ed Ward gave me his capsule review: “I’m sure glad I didn’t go on that expedition.”

Lands of Lost Borders will be published by Knopf in Canada in January, by Harper Collins in the U. S. only next August. Write the title down, my friends, and pre-order from Amazon as soon as you can.

Meanwhile, I can’t wait to see what Kate writes next. And while our evening with Stuart, Sharon, and Roman Dial in Banff made me sorry that she lives so far away from Boston, in the wilds of northern British Columbia, I trust that we’ll find a way to connect long before next year’s Banff rolls around. After all, in my been-there, seen-it-all old age, I suspect that Kate Harris has a lot to teach me about writing and life."

Add to the above the incredibly enthusiastic reviews of Pico Iyer; "Carried me up into a state of excitement I haven't felt for years. It's a modern classic." and Barry Lopez, and you know this one is a winner. I'm ordering a bunch for friends who deserve the best. It's not just travel and adventure, it is literature in the truest sense.
Credit: Fossil climber


Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Nov 23, 2017 - 02:32pm PT
Just got Alan Steck's new hardback book from Patagonia. That guy DID stuff.
Gail Hightower

Nov 23, 2017 - 03:00pm PT
Strange as This Weather has Been by Ann Pancake.

It is about the cost of living below a mountain top removal mine in West Virginia, and at times sounds like a post apocalyptic novel. Written from five character's perspectives.

I think it is the premier appalachian ecocriticism novel of the last 10 years.

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Nov 23, 2017 - 03:02pm PT

Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better by Pema Chodron.
Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Dec 4, 2017 - 11:39pm PT
Writers talking about the books they read in their youth.



Boulder climber
Yoknapatawpha County
Dec 5, 2017 - 05:57am PT
Rereading and teaching Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment and Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front.
Ward Trotter

Trad climber
Dec 5, 2017 - 10:45am PT
My second reading of this fine little book on the life of this most extraordinary humanitarian

Credit: Interweb

I have this same edition printed in 1954.Notice the price.

Farrow ( father of Mia and husband to Maureen O'Sullivan) copyrighted the original in 1937.

in the land of the blind
Dec 7, 2017 - 02:26pm PT
Currently reading Hyperion by Dan Simmons and re-reading The Red and the Black by Stendhal.

I really like this description of Mathilda from The Red and the Black:

“When anyone offended Mlle. de La Mole, she knew how to punish him with a witticism so calculated, so well chosen, so proper in appearance, so timely launched, that the wound kept growing by the minute, the more one thought about it.”
Mark Sensenbach

Dec 8, 2017 - 07:09pm PT
Think I found a goldmine. Googled National Outdoor Book Award after seeing that 'the last season' had won it - not knowing what it was and found a site w years of great outdoor books. -Check it;


Dec 8, 2017 - 07:39pm PT
Currently reading Hyperion

Excellent SF novel. Very imaginative.

Social climber
Desolation Basin, Calif.
Dec 19, 2017 - 05:11pm PT
Just finished An American Tragedy by Dreiser. It's a very disturbing piece of writing. Might take a while to digest this one. Clyde is such a shallow boy it's hard to know which way to think about him. Pity?

Is it comparable to Crime and Punishment? Raskolnikov is an intellectual, Griffiths is a cipher. Rasklonikov gets 7 years in Siberia, Clyde gets fried. Raskolnikov get spiritual redemption in prison, Clyde thinks maybe he does, but he's not sure.

Is there something American about Clyde's moral cowardice?

Alice Adams is next on the list. And at some point I need to get to Angle of Repose. And there's all that Faulkner...

Trad climber
Mammoth and SLO.....Life is Good!!!
Dec 19, 2017 - 05:16pm PT
Pure Desire, by Ted Roberts

Profound for the times in which we live.

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Dec 19, 2017 - 05:28pm PT
In A Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson. Might be the funniest book
I've ever read. It is also chock full of great facts and stories about
Australia. The trouble is I keep reading the horror show bits to The Wife
and the more I do so the more my chances of going there disintegrate. :-(

Dec 19, 2017 - 06:05pm PT

"Der Fuehrer", by Konrad Heiden. About Adolph Hitler, of course. The crux of reading this work, published in english in 1944, is keeping the old tome with it's yelling pages - together. Unfortunately, the author only goes until @ 1934 and the shocking execution of Heydreich who was caught in bed naked after having sex with an underage boy by Adolph himself (that chapter is appropriately called, "The Blood Purge". He wrote it while Hitler and the war were still a thing, and he had personally witnessed or seriously investigated and researched what he wrote about. Holy crap it's a very different view than I've read before. At times it drones on in minutia and details, and of course Hitler is still a total shithead, but the depths of his shitheadedness goes beyond any previously written view I've seen.

For a historical tome, it took a lot longer to read than say, a Greg Couch book, or John Toland (The Rising Sun) or Tuchmans "The Guns of August" all of which seem to be gripping historical novels you can't put down, but it's equally powerful.

My neighbor is a retired judge, a jew, who I'm considering gifting it to when I finish it the 2nd time. We talk books a lot and I suspect she'll enjoy it....I hope. Still thinking on that.....having worked side by side with holocaust survivors way back when (my boss at the time had been arrested, beaten, then escaped the Gestapo and swam across a river into Switzerland with his brother while being shot at, he'd hire any survivor anytime for any length of time no question s asked, and I didn't feel I should have been intrusive- AT ALL- to these shattered souls). Anyway, I'll reflect, I don't want to cause anyone any more needless pain.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Jan 22, 2018 - 08:51pm PT
Un-put-downable.  Also "Half Asleep In Frog Pajamas" by Tom Robbins.
Un-put-downable. Also "Half Asleep In Frog Pajamas" by Tom Robbins.
Credit: mouse from merced
Ward , my reading of Fr. Damien's life nearly caused me to become a Maryknoll missionary.
Instead I took Damien for a confirmation name.

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Jan 22, 2018 - 09:06pm PT
Someone just gave me a little book of Tennyson. Been a while. Guy still has magic for me. "The Ancient Sage" covers some ground.

Social climber
Pasadena and Ojai, CA
Jan 23, 2018 - 08:07pm PT
This Blessed Earth: A Year in the Life of an American Family Farm Ted Genoways (2017)

Great story about community and family in the heartland. The incredibly complex skills of the modern farmer: arbitrage and market timing, plant genetics and soil chemistry...Nebraska water rights management (a national model of good stewardship) and Keystone pipeline politics...all told by following one family of farmers for a year. Really great journalism.
Bruce Morris

Trad climber
Soulsbyville, California
Jan 23, 2018 - 10:59pm PT
The Oxford Illustrated History of English Literature edited by Pat Rogers:

Credit: Bruce Morris


Going back to my roots to makeup for a time when I was trying to be so smart I didn't learn a damn thing except a literary pose. Find out what I didn't really know when I was supposed to know it. The section on Old and Middle English was excellent and the chapter on the Tudors was a great lead in to the long study of Shakespeare. Discovered I knew quite a bit about the histories and tragedies but not that much about the comedies and romances. Great read with apropos illustrations, many in color.
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