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The Ascent of Rum Doodle

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3.79  ·  Rating details ·  1,478 Ratings  ·  175 Reviews
First published in 1956, The Ascent of Rum Doodle quickly became a mountaineering classic. As an outrageously funny spoof about the ascent of a peak in the Himalayas, many thought it was inspired by the 1953 conquest of Everest. But Bowman had drawn on the flavor and tone of earlier adventures, of Bill Tilman and his 1937 account of the Nandi Devi expedition. The book’s ce ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published October 1st 2001 by Random House UK (first published January 1st 1956)
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Jogle
May 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
For reasons associated with but not limited to having no friends, I arrived one night alone and at very short notice in Kathmandu. The prehistoric taxi from the airport was assembled from many previously fossilised taxis, and after only a few hundred exhilarating yards, violently disassembled on unsurprisingly crashing into what I assumed was the target motorcycle. The ensuing melee moved almost seamlessly into my trek on foot, carrying a rucksack (passably similar to an American ‘backpack’) con ...more
Rhys
Oct 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The second funniest work of fiction I have ever read... It's a good example of British surrealism. The British never really regarded surrealism as a serious artform and most examples of British surrealism are in fact strange comedies with no especial interest in the concerns of the original Surrealists (Freudian psychology, automatic writing, unpalatable honesty regarding sexual desires, etc).

This novel stands comparison with *Three Men in a Boat* or *Diary of a Nobody* but it's much more extrem
...more
Ellinor
The Ascent of Rum Doodle is a parody on mountaineers and as with all parodies there are people who love them and others who really don't see anything in them. I'm a bit in the middle of these two. The writing was over the top and there were lots of funny paragraphs - I just didn't laugh as much as I had hoped. My expectations were very high, especially because Bill Bryson in the foreword calls this the funniest book he ever read. It is funny, just not as funny as I thought. Sometimes it was also ...more
Tiago Vitória
Apr 06, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mountaineers
I have to be really honest about this book. I couldn't enjoy it. To be honest, Bowman's style of writing it is really tiring and I was often drifting with my focus on the book. Although I have to say that's probably my problem and not Bowman's. As a matter of fact his writing is surprisingly good and very well polished. What I did not like about the book it's the fact that almost every part of it seems like a sitcom, everything is happening and nothing seems to happen. The characters are dull an ...more
Gary Hoffman
Jan 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, humor
An overlooked classic. Read it in a single sitting. Extremely silly, in a good way, and often funny enough to bring tears.
Jamie
Dec 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Absolutely hilarious, giggled like a schoolgirl all the way through. I'm off to meditate on the responsibilities of leadership...
Wendy
May 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Ascent of Rum Doodle is a jaunty parody of inept mountaineers, who couldn’t organise a raffle at a village fete let alone master the 40,000 (and a half) ft climb to the peak of ‘Rum Doodle’.

These ‘professionals’ have the most ironic surnames like Burley, who was was anything but as he was out of sorts after failing to acclimatise to any step of their journey, the team’s medical assistance was provided by a Dr Prone who contracted everything from mumps to malaria, while Constant unintention
...more
Eric
Dec 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of farcical humor
Shelves: humor, audiobooks
I added this book to my to-read shelf after reading this blog post. After reading it, I fully endorse it as worthy of adding to your to-read shelf as well.

The premise is straightforward. Binder -- who is, to give a modern equivalent, very similar to Michael Scott from The Office -- is leading an expedition to ascend to the top of the Rum Doodle mountain peak. His companions include a translator that appears to not know the native language, a doctor who remains sick with various maladies, a navig
...more
Tweedledum
I love the serendipity of books. 1 month ago I discover this obscure and forgotten spoof on my bibliophilic son's ever growing bookshelves. Today I find a reference to it in another book I am reading... !

In this age of political correctness and sensitivities to all kinds of imagined slights The Ascent of Rum Doodle could never be written.for this reason alone it deserves to be rediscovered and celebrated. Thank God for a time when people could see the funny side of things without taking offence
...more
Lisa
As someone who has paged through the expedition diaries of more than one Victorian explorer, I found a lot to like about The Ascent of Rum Doodle, a satire of those very types of people and their writing. But even if you haven’t has the pleasure of reading much in that genre, you may still find something to like within.

Led by Binder, a man desperate to be the type of leader he’s read about but lacking any insight into himself and others and trying to find it by constantly questioning everyone ab
...more
Antonomasia
A classic British comic novel about a shambolic Himalayan mountaineering expedition. Perhaps a forgotten classic - it's been familiar to me for a long time and I didn't know it wasn't well-known until I read Bill Bryson's introduction. He compares it with Diary of a Nobody - the narrator is similarly incompetent, though perhaps marginally less pompous. (There's an awful lot happening, so less time to be so.) There's also a touch of Goonish / Pythonesque surrealism and a dash of Ealing charm. And ...more
Alistair
Mar 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Rum Doodle is one of the funniest, silliest (in the best sense!) books I've ever read. Bill Bryson's commendation on the cover is spot on: "One of the funniest books you will ever read." A spoof of the mountaineering community in the early 20th century, Bowman's deadpan style of delivery is a sheer delight. Take just one passage; one of the climbers has had a fixation with fiancees ever since a child(!?) To distract his attention his parents give him a catapult. "Except for the additional expens ...more
Nils
Jun 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook-only
Dieses Buch ist einfach unglaublich lustig! Freunde des trockenen und subtilen Humors werden an dieser Bergsteigergeschichte definitiv ihren Spaß haben. Ich kann es nur empfehlen. Leider ist es relativ kurz :/
Mimi
Jan 25, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2011
Loaned to me by a friend who said, "this book is very funny." I couldn't agree with the assessment more. It was a good treadmill read, although I nearly fell off a couple of times.
Niekoniecznie Papierowe
Nie można przestać się śmiać. Wyśmienita lektura na weekend nie tylko dla tych, którzy uwielbiają książki podróżnicze.
Bea (Libroteca el Gato de Cheshire)
Una historia de lo más divertida y disparatada a partes iguales. Hacía tiempo que no me reía tanto con un libro y la traducción es todo un acierto... jajaja.
Bab
Jun 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Muchas ganas de leerlo en inglés – con tantos juegos de palabras traducidos, tienen que ser casi como dos libros diferentes.
Ilona
Sep 24, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2014, humour, gave-up-on
I think Bill Bryson is one of the funniest authors out there. Bill Bryson thinks Rum Doodle is one of the funniest books out there. Therefore, I should find Rum Doodle extremely funny, right?

Nope.

That was my reasoning when I picked the book up from the library, but no. I could see where the humour was, for sure. I smiled regularly for the first two or three chapters. I probably would have kept smiling if I'd kept reading, but the story didn't grip me, and the humour wasn't sufficient to keep me
...more
JOYCE GODSEY
Dec 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am delighted to find that after 37 years as a used bookseller, i can still discover a new favorite book and fall in love. Though I am slightly embarrassed that I am only discovering Rum Doodle NOW, but perhaps books come along in your life just when you need them. The Ascent of Rum Doodle can only be described as a Good Show epic running on all cylinders. The conquering of a mountain has never and will never be this funny. Give this book to someone whose never ending devotion you wan to earn, ...more
A.K.
Jan 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a farcical story of a group of "climbers" setting out to tackle the daunting (and imaginary) summit of Rum Doodle. It's told in first person by a decidedly non-omniscient narrator who observes the laziness and bickering of his climbing team with unfailingly naive goodwill. I enjoyed the dry, subtle humor--laugh-out-loud in many places. A bit slow at times, but all-in-all a funny read. I'd probably give it 3.5 stars if I had the option, but it deserves to be rounded up rather than down.
Prateek Malhotra
Apr 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommending it for people interested in:-
Mountain climbing, ropes, crevasses, porters, boys, skunks, gurgles, warples, compasses, thermometers, Rum Doodle, North Doodle, teamwork, champagne, and, of course, the thrill of achieving something together(along with porters that are beyond praise).

Hilarious and succinct; thoroughly enjoyed this one.
Laura
Apr 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best comic novels I have ever read. Extremely well observed and deserves to be thought of as one of the true classics of comic literature along with P.G.Wodehouse. I particularly loved the leader of the expedition who exemplifies the stereotype of the optimistic but not at all worldly British ex-public schoolboy.
Stevyn Colgan
Nov 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Very British and very funny. A lovely gentle humour runs throughout much in the vein of 'Diary of a Nobody' and 'Three Men in a Boat'; two other books of which I am inordinately fond. A great read.

I want to watch 'Ripping Yarns' again now.
Joe
Dec 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nepal
You will find this book promnently on the front shelf of every bookstore in Thamel, the neighborhood of Kathmandu where all the mountaineers stay when in town, going to- or coming-back. Wonderful parody.
Chrystal
Jan 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
While reading this book, be prepared for the question to be asked of you repeatedly, "What is so funny?"
Nicole
Dec 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
It wasn't hilarious, but it was amusing. Short read as well.
Lee Penney
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
At 40,000-and-a-half-feet, Rum Doodle is the highest peak in the world and a team of experienced climbers is assembled at the request of Sir Hugeley Havering with the aim of reaching the summit. The story of their expedition, told by the team’s leader, is what forms the basis of the book.

As you can tell, this is a parody, mocking the derring-do and heroic sacrifice journaled in many expedition diaries, especially in the early part of the twentieth century.

The book apparently took inspiration fro
...more
David Evans
Apr 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: humour
Not one of the funniest books I’ll, ever read in spite of what Bill Bryson writes in the introduction to a new edition. However it is a very amusing but tends to labour the point somewhat that the disparate members of the expedition are totally unsuited to their respective roles i.e. the strong man has ME; the photographer fails to take a single picture; the guide has no sense of direction; the diplomat invokes hostility; the doctor is a hypochondriac; the leader has no insight into what’s going ...more
Tristan Egarr
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
Immensely silly spoof of mid-twentieth-century mountaineering memoirs. Mostly it's all rather overcooked, though the narrator's naivety makes for a couple of amusing trends. First, his propensity for interpreting his party-members' self-serving actions as being driven by the same selfless sense of duty that he adheres to. Second - and this is what is most rewarding about Rum Doodle - is the fact that his narrative shows the local porters ("Yogistanis" here, but basically Sherpas) are clearly the ...more
Radek
Apr 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Znakomita! Podczas czytania dostawałem niejednokrotnie ataków niepowstrzymanego śmiechu. Brytyjski humor, surrealistyczny. Właściwie pythonowskie skecze o wspinaczce, czy zdobywaniu dwóch szczytów Kilimandżaro są chyba mocno inspirowane historią zdobywania Rum Doodle - najwyższego szczytu świata. Polecam jako świetną rozrywkę tym, którzy góry kochają. Warto czasem upuścić trochę powietrza z tych, często nadętych i pompatycznych, historii. Rum Doodle jest trochę zapomnianą, trochę pominiętą powie ...more
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