Thursday, August 21, 2008

Into Thin Air

Here are all the reasons why I should've hated this book:
1. I don't really like hiking.

2. I don't like being cold. Jeff says there is about a 2 degree temperature range in which I am completely without complaint. I think it's 74-76.

3. I don't camp.

4. Everything about this book screams, "Warning! I am a dude book! Do not read me if you like reading books with pink covers about girls dating boys in New York!"

5. It is non-fiction.

I know that disliking camping and hiking is supremely uncool and makes me out to be a total priss. In my defense, I sometimes enjoy hiking. Particularly if it's a gentle slope, under 3 miles round trip, and someone brings snacks. Walking, however is an activity I can get behind. In fact, right now I'm training for the Breast Cancer 3Day which means that in a few short weeks I will walk 60 miles in 3 days. See - I'm not a total priss. I carry heavy ladders and move giant furniture almost on a daily basis, I use an orbital sander like a pro, and I really love the outdoors. I just love showers equally. What I'm trying to say, is that I can get down with some hard labor. I'm just not exactly a peeing-in-the-bushes type of girl. Which is why it's SO WEIRD that I loved this book!

This was my second book for the New Classics Challenge. I started it on Monday night and finished it last night, huddled on the couch with the cat and a big blanket, way past my bedtime. For those who don't know, Into Thin Air follows the true story of Jon Krakauer's trek up Mount Everest in the Spring of 1996, which would later be deemed the deadliest season in the history of Everest. By the end of the book, many of his fellow climbers and friends will be dead.

Honestly, my only complaint about this book is that it was really hard to keep track of all the people in the story. There were SO many people involved in this tragic climb and Krakauer references them all like we would reference our many coworkers and friends, but since I didn't already know these people, it was difficult to remember who was who. Other than that, this book was pretty awesome.

For some reason that defies logic, I love the show 'Beyond the Limit' on the Discovery Channel, which follows a team of trekkers up Mount Everest on their summit attempt. I loved all the familiar references in this book - The Hillary Step, Advanced Base Camp, South Col... I'd already heard them talk about these things on the show! Plus, many of the climbers are from Seattle -just like me! I was practically an insider! That's maybe not so much true, but whatever.

His writing is very articulate and his style makes you feel like you can actually see what's happening first hand. Reading his descriptions of the "thin air" made me feel like I couldn't breath. I cried for a minute at the end, because it's SAD, and REAL and you feel almost like you know the people on the trek by then. At the same time, you have to remind yourself that when you make the decision to climb Mount Everest, you kind of know you might die and you've decided it's worth the risk. You sort of admire and simultaneously shake your fist at the characters. Needless to say, I'll be sticking to my 3 mile hikes, as close to sea level as it gets.

If you haven't read it already, I highly recommend it.


mari said...

Heehee. That was great list. I read #4 to my husband. He also wants to read this one. It is coming up soon on my list for the challenge.

cranky rae said...

I also completely surprised myself by LOVING this book. Maybe it's not that surprising given that Mt. Everest borders Tibet, and I think we both know how much I love Tibet. Free Tibet!!! I think I was a sherpa in another life.

Anonymous said...

This is on my tbr-list-in-my-head but was turned off by a review that said it was pretentiously filled with too many pompous words. would you agree? were you running to the dictionary every page? I almost bought this in hardcover at a book sale and I'm a little mad at myself for saving that 50 cents. oh well.

Jill said...

Hi Care - I didn't notice pretentious vocab use at all. But maybe that's because my vocab is just soooo immense! Only kidding. I feel like I would have noticed if this was the case - but I didn't run to the dictionary once.

Diane said...

This book is on my New Classics Challenge list as well. My teenage son gave me his copy to read. He loves this author. I have seen the movie and found it very interesting. I am looking forward to reading the book, especailly now after reading your review.

Anonymous said...

My husband read this one and loved it. He's been trying to convince me to read it, but I've had no interest. Maybe I should reconsider??

joanna said...

your reasons for why you should have hated this book are the same as mine. Except that I haven't read it yet. Maybe I should reconsider too... Thanks for a great review!