During the past 5 months, I read 15 books and J read 10. It may not seem like a lot for some people, but it was for us. We love to read, but when we’re on the road, we listen to a lot of audiobooks and podcasts. Our summer and fall caretaking gigs afforded us actual book reading time, so we made it a point to devour some titles that have been on our list for awhile.
We thought we’d share our list of 20 books with a rating from 1-10 (10 being a must read). Both of us enjoy nonfiction more than fiction, and of course enjoy the adventure/travel genre. Even still, maybe you’ll find a good suggestion to add to your list!
To start, here are the 5 books both of us read …
The Climb by Anatoli Boukreev and G. Weston DeWalt
This is the true account told by Anatoli Boukreev, the hero of the 1996 Mt. Everest disaster, which claimed 5 lives from 2 expeditions. Boukreev personally saved 4 people and tried to save more. The Hollywood movie “Everest” that came out this year was based on several books, including Boukreev’s story.
Denali’s Howl by Andy Hall
This is the true story of the worst climbing disaster on North America’s highest peak, Denali, which J will be climbing this May (shiver). The book gives an inside look of theories of what went wrong on this particular expedition through interviews with surviving team members and other climbers. We both were a little unnerved after reading the details of this fateful climb, but J knows what he is getting into.
Hellhound on His Trail by Hampton Sides
This nonfiction piece puts another angle on Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination by delving into the details of his assassin, James Earl Ray. Since Ray is dead, a lot of research and interviews contributed to his story, and we still don’t really know the truth behind his motives. Both of us didn’t realize Ray prompted the largest manhunt in American history.
Short Tails from Long Trails by Justin Lichter
Most hikers have heard the name Justin Lichter. He has more than 40,000 miles under his belt. We’ve seen him speak and he certainly has some stories to tell. He highlights a few of those stories in this short book. Anyone looking to live vicariously through a true adventurer, check out this one.
Lost on a Mountain in Maine by Donn Fendler
Have you ever wondered what goes through a 12-year-old boy’s mind? Well, this book was written by 12-year-old Donn Fendler about his experience being lost on Katahdin in Maine. I give this kid credit; he overcame the odds and survived 8 nights out in the wilderness with no food or proper clothing. We picked up this book because someone suggested it to us … it was a very short read, but I really wouldn’t suggest anyone to pay for the book.
Teaching the Cat to Sit by Michelle Theall
I came across this book because the writer, Michelle, is a friend of ours who used to be our boss at Backpacker. This woman has had an amazing life and I’ve always admired her accomplishments. She grew up gay in southern Texas and was basically disowned by her very Catholic family because of it. She and her partner adopted a Cambodian boy who came from a broken home. Oh, and Michelle has MS. Clearly she has a lot of stories and struggles to share. And even though I half knew her story from what she told us, I found her writing to be so compelling that I was on the edge of my seat! Devoured this memoir in just 3 days.
Bared To You/Reflected in You/Entwined with You by Sylvia Day
I don’t read a lot of fiction, but sometimes I need a quick (and dirty) read. This was it. This is a 5-part series, but I only read the first 3. It was kind of a ramped up version of “50 Shades of Grey.” There’s more of a twisted past for both characters turned love story.
Hotel by Arthur Hailey
This was another fiction book. I found it in the church library when we were working up in Maine and even though it is set in the 1960s, I thought I could somewhat relate to the story of 5 days in a hotel from the manager’s point of view. The language, character development and detail was so rich and the story of different hotel guests and workers all fit together perfectly in a puzzle in the end. It was a great surprise.
The Wild Truth by Carine McCandless
One of my (our) favorite inspiring books is Jon Krakeau’s “Into the Wild,” which is the story of Chris McCandless, a young guy who escaped the confines of society after college and disappeared much to his family’s chagrin. He was found dead in the backcountry of Denali. As if the story couldn’t get any sadder, his sister Carine uses this memoir to divulge details about their childhood that were held back purposely from Jon’s book. I liked the book and writing, but she goes into great detail about her own story and journey (3 marriages, successful business venture), which I had less interest in.
Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
This was a hot fiction title tossed around a few months back. However, I didn’t think it lived up to all the hype. I didn’t get into this book into almost halfway and then it picked up. It’s sort of a psychological who dunnit, telling the stories of different people’s lives that end up colliding. Definitely gets you thinking and wondering how it’s all going to end.
Small Victories by Anne Lamott
I read Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird in college and it was one of the books that really inspired me as a writer. I thought I’d pick up another one of her books, this one being full of short stories about moments of grace. I remember why I loved this author so much, but it wasn’t as good as Bird for me.
Fresh Air Fiend by Paul Theroux
J picked up this book on sale for me when he was buying some other books. It was a collection of travel stories from the various places visited by the author. I wasn’t really impressed with the writing or flow of the stories, even though his language is vivid and he has been all over the globe.
The Thomas Point Affair by Jeff Pringle
This book was given to us by the author (a guest of ours up in Maine). The genre is murder mystery with lots of true historical facts about the Maryland area thrown in there. A very quick read as it is only 120 pages with large print.
Blind Corners by Geoff Tabin
This memoir is written by one of the world’s best high mountain climbers who has climbed some of the most difficult routes, establishing many first ascents. He balances his life between family, climbing and being a doctor.
Eiger Dreams by Jon Krakauer
This is a series of short stories about climbing all over the world from Krakauer himself, but also other climbers. Gives a great history of climbing.
Lost at Sea by Patrick Dillon
I have a thing for books about lost ships and boat life. This nonfiction book is about 2 U.S. fishing boats that went missing at sea, investigating why and insights about the fishing industry rules and regulations.
The Terrible Hours by Peter Maas
The true account of the first successful submarine rescue efforts off the NH coast and the man who redefined submarine rescue techniques. FYI, I never want to go on a submarine.
Tis’ by Frank McCourt
Patrice told me she read this in college and loved it, so when we saw it in the church library in Maine, she made me put it in my pile. I agree; it was a great story about how a young man from Ireland made something of himself in the United States.