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Unbound: A Story of Snow and Self-Discovery

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  635 ratings  ·  91 reviews
A young woman follows winter across five continents on a physical and spiritual journey that tests her body and soul, in this transformative memoir, full of heart and courage, that speaks to the adventurousness in all of us.

Steph Jagger had always been a force of nature. Dissatisfied with the passive, limited roles she saw for women growing up, she emulated the men in her
ebook, 304 pages
Published January 24th 2017 by Harper Wave
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Average rating 3.82  · 
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 ·  635 ratings  ·  91 reviews

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Feb 27, 2017 rated it did not like it
My husband and I listened to this on audio while road tripping across the US on our own ski adventure. We had heard about this book and thought it'd be a great way for us to get amped for the mountains. Unfortunately, this memoir is light on the snow and ski stories and heavy on the self-discovery mumbo-jumbo. Jagger's quest to ski 4 million vertical feet in 10 months feels like a thin excuse or afterthought for the greater focus on "finding herself." I felt like with all her travels and the awe ...more
Jan 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
While I loved the concept of 'Wild', I was left sorely disappointed after forcing myself to finish it. 'Unbound' finally quenched that thirst I was left with, to live vicariously through someone brave enough to embark on a crazy adventure all while discovering and learning things about themselves most are never able to learn in a lifetime. Steph Jagger's humor combined with brutal honesty was the perfect mixture to keep me up until the wee hours of the night to read 'just one more page!!' Her po ...more
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A heady adventure that armchair skiiers and travelers will enjoy and that women will easily cheer on as they read.

Stephanie Jagger sets out to prove to her family and to herself that she is really one of them - as tough, as driven, and as physically and mentally capable as any of the men, more than equal to them. Her plan is to ski 4 million feet downhill in a year, and in five continents. She succeeds but changes in the process, finding her own self worth independent of her family.
Mar 24, 2017 rated it liked it
I've been looking for a book like Unbound for a long time. There was something that Born to Run and Wild did for me that I couldn't find again until I read Unbound.

Life always seems like there is an order to things. Graduate, get a job, get married, and have babies. And although all of those are adventures, life is more than that. It's about discovering who you are, becoming who you were always meant to be, and living life freely. Mainly, it's about achieving the ultimate goal - being happy.

Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I had been interested in reading this for ages but didn't get around to it quite yet, unsure how it would go. So many books of female adventurers have inspired me but also felt disconnected from my own experience or possibility I was worried it would be like this, like Wild, which I enjoyed, but didn't really connect with. But man, this book. Steph Jagger could have been talking from my own experience so many times --- from how I looked at the female models of success in my life while growing up ...more
Lucie Turns Pages
Love love loved this book and the way Steph Jagger writes - it's honest, witty and completely captivating. I literally could not put this book down. Even though I'm not a skier, it didn't matter because I loved reading about every aspect of Steph's journey and was right there with her as the mountains broke her down and put her right back together again. ...more
Becki Iverson
Mar 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was supposed to be the heir to Wild, which is one of my favorite books, and I suppose it is in flavor. Steph Jagger's writing unfortunately doesn't have the profound, nuanced wisdom of a Cheryl Strayed or Elizabeth Gilbert; however, her story and accomplishments are still quite compelling, and this will satisfy anyone looking for a book about adventure. I didn't know a lot about mountain skiing before I read this book and I learned quite a bit about it by the end. It's a brutal sport and on ...more
Freya Robinson-Balchin
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
Finished this one today, and it was just ok. I really liked "Eat, Pray, Love" and "Wild" and was hoping this would carry that theme, and it just didn't measure up in my humble opinion. I believe she probably read one of those books or something and felt she should do a journey of her own but I really wasn't all that impressed with the story of her journey. I'm sure it was profound for her but to an outsider she just skied a lot and flaunted that she met a lot of rich people. I also didn't relate ...more
Nov 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Alternative titles include "Warren Miller meets 'Eat, Pray, Love' or 'White privilege meets Millennial Self-absorption,' or even, 'Discovering the Universe really does revolve around me.'" Not to say that I didn't enjoy this book, and it doesn't advertise to be anything other than what it is. The first part of the book was more relatable. Her struggles with being ultra competitive and not knowing how to be strong without dismissing her femininity are not uncommon among women not adhering to trad ...more
Boomers Gems
Dec 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Listened to the audio version. I'm not even a skier and I enjoyed this book. Steph has some great realizations that she shares throughout her 4 million ft journey. I like the way she writes, you can feel her personality come through. With all her little jokes and pointing things out. I loved it.
I like her connections to her moms hat and her dads shoes. And the vagina worshiping made me giggle. It comes with a deep ephiniay so it's also serious, but the awkwardness is hilarious.
The descriptions
Oct 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was a wonderful book. It was about the author discovering who she is through a ski trip following winter around the world. The author felt that her life was good, but needed to bump things up another notch to challenge herself. She chose to do this through following winter around the world and skiing 4,000,000 vertical miles. The trip started out simple enough with some relatively easy hiccups. Once the trip really got going she discovered that this trip was about so much more than trying t ...more
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book. I love travel memoirs, I love skiing, and here was a travel memoir about skiing!

But instead of describing the mountains and the places she visited and the people she met along the way (which is what I want from a good travel memoir), the majority of the book was spent by the author using way too many metaphors to describe her evolution from a goat to a tiger to a (view spoiler)
May 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved this story of self-exploration, travel and discovery (with a nice helping of love story) about a female skier who takes a trip around the world to ski a goal amount of mileage. In the memoir, Jagger talks about her life of “goals” and her inner narrative that success and self-worth are measured in the achievement of arbitrary goals we set because of the messages sent to us by family, society or our perfectionist selves. Needless to say, she becomes “Un-Bound.” This is a good inspirational ...more
Aug 02, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: just-no
Steph is a super funny writer, so if stories about "finding yourself" are your thing, you'd probably enjoy this. Personally, I didn't love Wild and I didn't love Unbound. I really enjoyed the skiing and travel aspects of her story... and I could totally relate with her desire to chase blue ribbons and "crazy" goals. However, this book lost ground with it's (in my opinion) cheesy assurances of how her life was changed but no real examples. I feel like these books just never address the "what next ...more
Angie Mattson Stegall
Yes! The world does indeed need (and want!) more stories of women who are nit broken. This book made me smile, it made me gasp in recognition of my own journey, and had me cheering all the way to the end.

I first heard an I review with Steph through the Beautiful Writers Group. Her honesty and advice really stuck with me.

I finally got around to reading this book after reading far too many business books.

This was a great galloping story with unexpected romance, grit, courage, and an on-your-knee
Megan Collins
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Now it comes in a hardback book. I absolutely loved it! The journey that Steph on was amazing and the fact that skiing was the backdrop made it even more inspiring to me. I really connected with her through all the different parts of her journey and enjoyed watching her grow from what she thought the mission was to realizing it took her even deeper into finding herself. All skier girls should read this. Hell, this is a book for anyone wanting to read someone's non-traditional journey. I didn't m ...more
Jul 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: travel
I must admit, the tone and language and flow was entertaining enough to keep me reading this kind of a book, a one-event-life-changing challenge/experience/journey. Steph Jagger acknowledges her privilege and narrates her journey of self-discovery doing the thing she loves the most as she turns thirty. Entertaining read, if you forgive the cliches that crop up in between. What I'd really be interested in, though, is what came after that one year. What did she do? What did she change? Why How did ...more
Sep 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, feminist
This is a tough genre to stand out in after Wild got published. I enjoyed the premise of trying to ski 4 million vertical feet in a year. It's ambitious, it's interesting, and the author comes to some big personal "aha" moments along the way about being yourself while being female. That said, the writing didn't really grab me, and there wasn't quite as much depth to the narrative as I was expecting. I'd recommend Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube for a similar feminist-in-cold-weather-soul-searchi ...more
Jul 17, 2018 rated it did not like it
A few interesting bits and pieces and I did actually make it to the bitter end of this book. Perhaps I never liked the premise: the goal of doing all that skiing on lifts around the world felt neither adventurous nor noble. But what was left was her journey of self-discovery, a journey she claims to have embarked on but I felt left behind and bewildered. Expecting that she would end up some place new when at every turn I only felt the same old person coming through the pages. Good for her for di ...more
Jaina Rose
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: blogged
This review is also available on my blog, Read Till Dawn.

Hmm. This was not exactly what I was expecting. I thought it was going to be a book about traveling around the world, about experiencing new cultures and broadening your horizons and gaining new perspectives on yourself through those multicultural experiences. That's the sort of tale I'm looking for right now, as I try to decide whether or not to attend college in Scotland.

Instead, though, Unbound is a book about a deeply confused young wo
Aug 18, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: one-star
I was excited to read this book because a woman skiing 4 million vertical feet sounded like a premise I could get behind. Unfortunately, this book is heavy on the "finding yourself" aspect and very light on the ski journey. I still don't understand what transformation she made or what discovery she made. I guess that she became a less rigid person? Overall, it came across entitled and hard to relate to as a transformation story. ...more
Mar 05, 2019 rated it liked it
I really wanted to know what happened during her dark days after the whole journey was over. Her journey to self discovery was interesting in the details of the different ski resorts around the world, but the part I really wanted to know was how do you reinvent yourself. Jagger's ability to handle discomfort, both mental and physical, and physical pain is awe-inspiring. She seems like a "cool" person, and it was illuminating to get inside her head and witness her vulnerability. ...more
Sheila Pritchard
Aug 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
If this wasn’t a memoir but a Novel I’d probably say it was rather overdone! Everything seemed to be on steroids. But this is her real life so if she is not exaggerating it is amazing! I enjoyed the reality of the theme of finding her true self. Some of the things the Universe put in her path were quite miraculous - and I’m familiar with that kind of miraculous. I have no real interest I skiing but it certainly provided riveting reading.
Rebecca Brooks
Apr 17, 2020 rated it did not like it
I tried, but this book is awful. She's a terrible sorry teller that doesn't know how to use the word fuck and tries too hard to be witty. Also by acknowledging your privilege, as she does many times, that doesn't remove it. This book is dripping with attempts to hide that she's yet anther person who did something awesome but had a huge safety net and springboard. Hooray.

Not inspiring or even interesting.
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The use of metaphors woven throughout this books were perfect. Steph shared her actual encounters and travels yet goes so much deeper with her thoughts!

This book would certainly be good for anyone in a turning point of life...hear from her experience of chasing a dream!

This may have been the first memoir I’ve read and I will try more after this one!
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I greatly enjoyed this book!
It was certainly not what I was expecting, but it was really well written and it was great to go along on the journey with Steph. Especially since it is definitely not something that I will ever be doing in my lifetime.
It really had me thinking of that quote, "Happiness is a journey, not a destination."
Nov 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Flew through it. A little verbose here and there but still got the points across. I felt like some of the descriptions of her travel experience could've been cut out. Still enjoyed reading it. I picked up because a friend recommended it and is getting coaching from Steph and I wanted to know more about Steph as I was considering her as a coach as well. I'm hiring her. It's a good story. ...more
Steve Payeur
This can be a light, easy, and inspiring read, but it can also be contemplated for the depths of its topics and experiences it relates. I'd like to do more of the latter, so see if more wisdom can be gleaned. ...more
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