Isolation book swap

Supporting the local bookshop is pretty much out the window now, Amazon are starting to wind down the delivery of non-essentials, but posties have been confirmed as key workers and will maintain operation throughout any lockdown.

So - shall we start with reading recommendations, and moving to a (postal) book swap in the near future when Dominic Cummings decides he’s had enough of distancing?

My last few favourites have been:

The Villain - Jim Perrin (a biography of Don Whillans)
Both of Andy Cave’s autobiographies (Learning to Breathe and Thin White Line)
Higher Ground - Martin Moran
Kiss or Kill - Mark Twight (for those who can tolerate obnoxious American writing it’s a great read)
I’m yet to not enjoy any of Andy Kirkpatrick’s books - but not read Unknown Pleasures yet…!

What’s on everyone else’s list?


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I can certainly recommend Andrew Greig, particularly Summit Fever, in which a professional writer goes mountaineering in Pakistan with a bunch of dirtbag alpinists.
Deep Play by Paul Pritchard, a collection of essays as much as a coherent book but some very good
Eiger Dreams by Jon Krakauer, quirky collection of articles
Just read Lord of the Abyss, the biography of Paul Preuss, an early exponent of soloing and one of Reinhold Messner’s heroes. Despite the tragic inevitability present throughout the book it is a good look at one of the earliest eras of significant rock climbing progression.

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Seconded on Deep Play…! Initially wasn’t all that impressed with the writing style, but found I’d read it cover-to-cover barely putting it down, so can’t knock it!

It’s a good counterpoint to Dawes’ book, some of which I thought was brilliant in its description of climbing movement and the general anarchy of the 80s scene, some of which was unreadable.

Jerry Moffat’s is OK but very vanilla in comparison, even though it was ghost-written by the bonkers Niall Grimes.

John Porter’s One Day as a Tiger is pretty good too.

Walden - Henry David Thoreau? I jest. Impenetrable - don’t go there.

Can only offer “The Climb” by Anatoli Boukreev / G Weston DeWalt - Boukreev’s account of the '96 everest diaster as being well written imho.

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On that subject David Breashers’ High Exposure is not bad, giving another perspective on 1996, the 70s rock climbing in America, and making high altitude films including IMAX.

Gwen Moffat’s diary from the forties/fifties (Space Below My Feet) is a great read - her descriptions of the situations and the people are fantastic.
She also wrote a bunch of mostly climbing themed crime novels, one of which (lady with a cool eye) is set at a thinly veiled copy of plas y brenin. I’m working through that one at the moment…


I recently enjoyed the Boardman Tasker prize winner, “The Bond” by Simon McCartney. It’s a powerful “how can anyone survive that” type story.

Also good podcast episodes not a book: The Enormocast does a rare interview with Mark Dwight - 3 hours - gripping at times. I’d love to know his reaction to coronavirus. Episodes 171 and 172.

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On podcasts…

Alpinist did a great one with Nick Bullock if you don’t know his story (if anyone’s got a copy of Echoes by NB I’d love to read).

The Adventure Podcast is also great, but not climbing specific. 033 was about Ian Spike Sykes, a guy with no experience who went to be a dog sled driver with the British Antarctic Survey in the 1960s - would recommend (for those that can stand a Yorkshire accent)

The book Kiss or Kill that Tom mentioned above is by the same Mark Dwight, FYI Khalid.

I’ve got The Bond on the pile after your recommendation. Also on the pile is Into The Silence by Wade Davis which is supposed to be a superb account of Malory and the post-WWI climbers.

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Into The Silence is very good, but I fell doesn’t quite fulfil on its back cover blurb of investigating the effect of the Great War on the psychology of the survivors. It is excellent though. I was given two copies and donated one to the Cottage.

I thought Perrin’s study of Whillans -The Villain- was brilliant and very readable, whilst his Menlove was a lot more involved, as you’d expect with that subject.


Vertebrate Publishing have 30% off at the moment.

Lots of classics - which reminds me of another - Hanging On by Martin Boysen was a great read - although can’t say I agree with him on Southern Sandstone.

There’s also this odd little website which has all kinds of short historical, biographical and offbeat articles and yarns on it…