Fascinating book. Krakauer has a style of prose that captivates and brings the story and the people very much to life. He's an exceptional journalist,...moreFascinating book. Krakauer has a style of prose that captivates and brings the story and the people very much to life. He's an exceptional journalist, and documents every moment from multiple perspectives and with an exactness of time.
This story is tragic and horrible. Strangely, it makes Mt. Everest more appealing to me, but in terms of staggering danger that comes with it. It really speaks to humanity, to morality, the pursuit of dreams and danger and adventure. There are heroes and not-so-heroes. There are no villains. The whole situation is amazing. This is a book that recognizes in plain terms part of the human condition. Just think of climbing past an ailing human being that is not part of your team, and leaving them there to die--inevitably--because to assist would endanger either your life or your summit attempt or both. That's quite the thought experiment.
I have a lot of respect for Jon Krakauer and what he has done with this book. Hopefully by now, 13 years later, he's been able to reconcile with some of the more difficult memories that plagued his life for year.(less)
I really enjoyed every word of Austin's. It's a short book, and I was slow-moving to get through it. But I don't regret that. I feel like part of her...moreI really enjoyed every word of Austin's. It's a short book, and I was slow-moving to get through it. But I don't regret that. I feel like part of her eyeopening awareness of the natural world speaks to being slow-moving. There's nothing wrong with that. I'm a desert tortoise.(less)
Disclaimer: I am fueled by a love for Edward Abbey's words.
Much of Abbey's Road is related to travel, his time spent in places--other places, temporar...moreDisclaimer: I am fueled by a love for Edward Abbey's words.
Much of Abbey's Road is related to travel, his time spent in places--other places, temporary home, road trips and river trips. The people come and go--bit players--but central to each vignette is always Mr. Abbey himself. His time spent in Australia is quite fascinating, there's much of Mexico, and rivers and travel. He waxes both political and poetical, with pointed arguments in both directions.
Truly, he writes on a variety of topics--often tied nicely with his anarchy and activism, conservation environmentalism. He's scruffy and irreverent, and usually naked. He is a druid in a worn-out ranger uniform, a bearded bard of the desert, a staunch defender of not only the wild but the necessary IDEAL of the wild.
These essays are both diverse and linked. Funny and touching and pseudo-philosophizing. Nothing off-limits to Mr. Abbey. Read him and be made whole.(less)
I love reading John Muir's writings. He is so passionate, so intense and animated about that which he loves. This, his first trip into the high Sierra...moreI love reading John Muir's writings. He is so passionate, so intense and animated about that which he loves. This, his first trip into the high Sierra country, contains countless exclamatory passages and endless quotables. His naturalist interests and tendencies come out as he analyzes and categorizes and theorizes, on geology, botany, zoology, meteorology (the man is ENTRANCED by cloudscapes).
"How interesting everything is! Every rock, mountain, stream, plant, lake, lawn, forest, garden, bird, beast, insect seems to call and invite us to come and learn something of its history and relationship." (240)
Minor complaint, or noted content: He seems fairly racist towards the natives, calling them "not a whit more natural than the tourists" at least twice, and continuously calling them unclean (therefore unnatural). I understand the prevailing sentiments at the time, and also that these Indians had already been tarnished by the white man's intrusions, but you would think with all his admiration for Nature (with a capital N of course) and a natural way of life he may think differently.
I like that John Muir is outwardly fascinated with all aspects of nature--attributing all of it to God, but not letting that get in the way of or cloud his passion. He finds true divinity, religion, worship, in nature, and many of his ideas here ring loud and true still.
"Our flesh-and-bone tabernacle seems transparent as glass to the beauty about us, as if truly an inseparable part of it, thrilling with the air and trees, streams and rocks, in the waves of the sun,--a part of all nature, neither old nor young, sick nor well, but immortal." (16)
"From form to form, beauty to beauty, ever changing, never resting, all are speeding on with love's enthusiasm, singing with the stars the eternal song of creation." (128)
"the hills and groves were God's first temples, and the more they are cut down and hewn into cathedrals and churches, the farther off and dimmer seems the Lord himself." (146)
"the devil ... cannot be much of a mountaineer, for his tracks are seldom seen above the timberline." (150)
"it seems reasonable that what interests Him may well interest us. When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe." (157)
"I should like to live here always. It is so calm and withdrawn while open to the universe in full communion with everything good." (204)
"everything in Nature called destruction must be creation--a change from beauty to beauty" (229)
"In our best times everything turns into religion, all the world seems a church and the mountains altars." (250)(less)
Gretel Ehrlich has resounding prose and acclaim for Wyoming. The Solace of Open Spaces reads like a collection of essays, with a storyline woven throu...moreGretel Ehrlich has resounding prose and acclaim for Wyoming. The Solace of Open Spaces reads like a collection of essays, with a storyline woven through it, both seasonal as Wyoming's seasons come, and seasonal as emotions and change affect life and death.
She introduces us to many characters, often with quotes and examples and often revisiting them to flesh out the language and character of her small town. Her eloquence makes even the difficulties and death beautiful, and she beautifully describes and makes sense of manliness, the westerner, rodeos, man and his relationship with animals, marriage, death, solitude, open space, ranch life. A beautiful read that will want you want more of Wyoming--or at least to get there to begin with.
"True solace is finding none, which is to say, it is everywhere." (41)
"I know what the world is made of, and I still love all of it." (45)
"Everything in nature invites us to constantly be what we are." (84)
"Some kinds of impermanence take a long time." (90)(less)
I'll admit, it took a bit of time to get fully immersed in Ellen Meloy's book, but once I was in, I was hooked. Her writing style can kindly be descri...moreI'll admit, it took a bit of time to get fully immersed in Ellen Meloy's book, but once I was in, I was hooked. Her writing style can kindly be described as meandering, and she might have benefitted from a touch more editing (especially when describing childhood moments of imagining invisible road-trip friends, which lasted a couple of pages). But outside of this very minor complaint, and I was in love. I devoured her passion for the desert, the world, environments, and mankind's stewardship within those environments. She tells disconnected tales and experiences from within her own life, and interweaves them with a theme of color, stone, ocean, blueness--the turquoise essence which she distills. There are many truths in her words, many very personal feelings that resonated with Amy and me as we read this together. It prompted many a discussion regarding land conservation, river nudity, Mexican paradise, and so on. I look forward to reading her Eating Stone soon.
"Every nature girl and boy should be prepared to defend the places they love. Otherwise we have not earned them." (159)
"We must exalt the biocentric paradigm, speak for the creatures that have no voice, staunch the lunatic hemorrhage of wild lands from the face of the planet." (159)
"the seduction of certain geographies that feel like home not by story or blood but merely by their forms and colors ... our perceptions, as someone once said, are our only internal map of the world, how there are places that claim you and places that warn you away." (210)
"The desert gives an unsettling sense of the largeness of the universe in relation to the self." (288)
"Sometimes the desert exhilarates me to the point of soaring. Other times I am so heartsick I cannot bear up against the despair, a palpable, aching longing. Longing for this wild beauty to last and for me never to die and no longer be able to feel, see, hear, taste, and breathe it. A yearning to die before the desert's wild heart is lost so I do not have to witness it. A longing to be a better person, for the world to be a better place, for us to truly measure up to this land, for this land to not be a battlefield of anger and greed. When these two opposing conditions, elation and despair, follow one another too quickly, the universe seems careless and precipitate. I soar, I crash, a squall of heat let loose in the ethos." (293)(less)
I really loved this, the writings of the young and idealistic Rick Bass. It's inspiring in that it makes me want to love the real winters I get to exp...moreI really loved this, the writings of the young and idealistic Rick Bass. It's inspiring in that it makes me want to love the real winters I get to experience, to find passion in bone-chilling cold, or difficulties like cars that won't start or furnaces that have issues. I love his writing discipline, and the way he buckles down and becomes a "real man," out of true necessity. The fact that he still lives in the Yaak Valley and has made his life there really shows the love he developed for such a remote area.
I read this during winter (albeit a pathetic one, 2012's), and I could truly read it again--during any season--to rekindle the lovely truths that are brought about by snowfall, freezing temperatures, forests, and the places in our nearby world that rely upon these things, these cycles.
"Anything I'm guilty of is forgiven when the snow falls." (90)
"Learn to love the cold, the winter. If you love the country, the landscape--if you *really* love the country--then you may find yourself able to love it in winter most of all." (131)(less)
A very intriguing read. McDougall creates an adventure/travel story, mixed with ultrarunning history and its prominent athletes, mixed with running sc...moreA very intriguing read. McDougall creates an adventure/travel story, mixed with ultrarunning history and its prominent athletes, mixed with running science and some very eyeopening information and studies regarding mankind, distance running, and evolution. I was captivated by it all.
To anyone interested in running, or fulfilling your own dormant athletic potential, I recommend this book, and I also recommend exploring the joys of running.
I am already a barefooter most of the year long, and have been trying to include barefoot running in my regimen. Injuries have kept me down, but McDougall and Eric Orton and the Tamahumara give me hope.
Critique: I did find his writing style to be distracting some of the time. Sadly, I don't know if this book will stand the test of time due to endless cliches and comparisons, slang, colloquialisms and pop culture references. Lots of "dude," "bonehead," slang names and sayings, etc.
Inspiring, easy to get through. In short--read it.
"When you run on the earth and run with the earth, you can run forever." (114) -- a Tarahumara saying
"You don't stop running because you get old. ... You get old because you stop running." (202)(less)