Title: A Short History of the American Stomach
Author: Frederick Kaufman
Themes/Topics: Food (duh), History (Also duh)
I love food, I mean, I REALLY love food. I would consider myself to be a foodie but not a snooty foodie so it was just not as interesting to me. I figured I could trick myself into learning some history if there was food involved but it was still a struggle. If their had been more organization and flow to this read, I think that would have helped.
6. Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
Published: 1997 (I had the 2009 edition, though)
This is about the incredible and tragic true story of an expedition to the summit of Mount Everest on May 10, 1996 when a handful of people were killed due to the harsh conditions. I vaguely remember hearing about this when it was on the news, but it wasn't until a couple years ago when I was reminded of the story and found out about this book and thought it would make for a good read, but I couldn't seem to find it at any bookstore or at the two libraries that are near me, so I finally decided to order it from Amazon. It was definitely worth the wait. The book is pretty amazing, although it makes me never want to summit Mount Everest (not that I ever wanted to in the first place!)
Krakauer, a journalist who's also a climber, was sent to Nepal by Outside magazine to write an article about the commercialization of the highest peak in the world. Initially, he was just going to stay at the base camp, but wanting to summit the mountain, he asked them if they could wait a year so he could train and if they could finance the $65,000 it costs for an expedition to Everest. $65,000! I guess even death has a price tag! The climbers who died that day ranged in age from 31 - 57 and included both guides and clients. They had to deal with altitude sickness - Everest is a little over 29,000 feet, apparently that's about the same cruising altitude of an airliner, so just think about that for a second! - even though they had oxygen, they had to make sure to preserve it and the high altitude made them delirious. There were also temperatures that got as low as 100 below and if any body part became exposed it would immediately become frostbitten. The climbers who first reached the summit started at around 3 in the morning and didn't get to the peak until a little 1 in the afternoon - and that's just the halfway point because they had to then descend the mountain. That's when most of the people died. There was a huge storm and many of them were tired, freezing, and lacking oxygen.
It makes you wonder what would ever allure people to do something like that. It just seems like such a waste of life and it made me angry at some of the people in the book for the stupid decisions they made. For instance, one of the guides, saw that one of the clients was very tired and instead of insisting that they turn back, he urged him on to the top. Now this client has been on Everest before with the same guide, but he hadn't reached the top due to fatigue. I suppose the guide wanted to make sure he got to the top this time, which he did, but in the end it cost both of them their lives.
Very fascinating read. HIghly recommended. Climbing Everest? Not so much!
And Another Thing... by Eoin Colfer. 340 pages
I admit, I was biased against this book from the first. Anybody but the late and much lamented Douglas Adams trying to write in the Hitchhiker's universe is basically on a hiding to nothing as far as I'm concerned. There may be somebody out there who could write a H2G2 book and make me think that Adams had risen from the grave, but Colfer certainly isn't the person in question.
One of the problem with his effort is that he tries too hard really - he throws in references to the other books at madcap pace as if trying to distract the reader from the fact that he isn't Adams while actually reminding them of it at every turn. And he will insist on using "froody" as an adjective, when, if I recall correctly, Adams only ever used "frood" as a noun. It's a tiny thing, but it's like a tiny bit of gravel in your shoe - it begins as a minor irritation but eventually becomes very painful.
In fairness, it's not an awful book - there are occasional funny bits and some of the plot is quite well constructed and there are probably a great many authors who would have done an even worse job. But it's not Adams and it was never going to be.