Armchair Adventurers Unite!

We've mentioned before that A Reader's Respite is very big on armchair adventure books. It's much safer in our old age to simply read about other people's brushes with death as opposed to seeking it out ourselves.

Remember when Harrison Ford was young? Yeah, us too.

Thank goodness for armchair adventure books. Some of our favorites over the years have included

Into Thin Air is a must-read, even if you're not that into adventure books. Krakauer shot to the top of his game with this true account of the 1996 Everest disaster that claimed the lives of eight climbers, including some world-class mountaineers.

Seven Summits
is another favorite that is the true account of two middle-aged (albeit very wealthy) men who set out to be the first to climb the highest summit on each continent. The narration in this one is just riveting, like being told the story first hand at a great dinner party.

West With the Night
is the 1942 biography of pilot Beryl Markham, who was the first pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic from east to west (against prevailing winds, which is no mean feat). She covers her childhood in Kenya and her bush-flying adventures in Africa in this book. Lots of girl-power here.

With classics like these in our library, it's admittedly difficult for a newly-released adventure story to compete. Such was the case with Jennifer Woodlief's A Wall of White. The topic she chose was a good one: the true story of the 1982 avalanche at Alpine Meadows, a popular ski resort in Lake Tahoe. Lots of good survival stories to make your hair stand on end there, one would think. And perhaps there were.

The problem is that A Reader's Respite never even made to the actual avalanche and it's aftermath because we couldn't plow our way through the first seemingly never-ending 150 pages of background information. It was as if Woodlief lacked the material for a full length book and so she packed it with the most annoyingly minute details just to take up space.

As much as we wanted to get to know the principle players in this tragedy, we can't say that we were interested in a verbatim recount of every conversation they ever had. With anyone. Starting from childhood.

That said, the mechanics of Woodlief's writing are quite good. We-thinks this was a case of fleshing out a book gone bad, which makes one wonder: where exactly was the editor when this one went to print? Vacation? Potty-break? Perhaps there is a job opening over at Atria Books.

Regardless, for our fellow armchair adventurers out there, NileGuide provides a terrific list of the Top 50 Adventure Books of All Time. There's more than enough there to keep the most avid adventurer busy for quite some time.....happy reading.

Now this is where A Reader's Respite inserts our standard disclaimer: just because we weren't thrilled with A Wall of White doesn't necessarily mean you won't be. There's a butt for every saddle, folks.

With that in mind, if you'd like to try it out yourself, leave us a comment and on July 25th, we'll draw a random winner to receive their very own copy of A Wall of White. International entrants are always welcome. And remember to check back to see if you won.


  1. Have you read anything by Joe Simpson? He writes about his climbing adventures, and has had lots of near death experiences. He is mad if you ask me, but I love all his books.

    Touching the Void is his most famous - it has been made into a great film too.

  2. Your pictures and commentary never fail to crack me up. I have read Into the wild by Krakauer. I might have this other one too. I'll have to hunt it up. I enjoyed his writing.

  3. I think I will pass on this one...I trust that your butt and mine are more similar than different. I did love the movie Touching the Void, BTW.

  4. Love the butt and saddle comment. If I need to hear about high climbing adventures I just cross the hall and ask the boss. He's climbing #7 of those Seven Summits in August. Have to say those pics he brought back from Everest were something else.

  5. Loved all three that you loved! But I'll pass on the avalanche! Thanks for the link to the adventure books. I'm amazed at how many I've read. I never really thought of that as one of my genres, but I guess it is.

  6. Sorry to see this one's a stinker.

  7. hee hee Wonder if anyone is going to take it off your hands? Not me.

    But thanks for the information and the fun post, I always smile reading your snarkiness.

    I am trying to think of an Adventure story (that I read) and my goodness I guess I am sheltered. That's a shocker.

  8. Looks like I'll pass on this one--I can't stand books where the author feels the necessity to pass along all of their research. West With The Night is on my tbr list and I'm glad to hear that I was not misguided on that one.

  9. Loved Into Thin Air. Love going on adventures while staying on the couch! That list you linked to has lots of interesting looking stuff on it. Thanks for the link!

  10. well, it seems to be the general feeling that I should skip this one and finally read the copy of Into Thin Air that I have on my shelf.

  11. Potty break? Nah... she was probably applying for a job @ Sephora! lol.

  12. Great collection. But I must warn you - I will be stealing and using the phrase Saddle for every Butt. Love it!

  13. Wow! I haven'read any of the books you have mentioned :) and welll I am going to find them and read them! Thank you.

    I would like not to enter for the giveaway.. I have a feeling I would not like it :)

  14. I really enjoyed Into the Wild and Into Thin Air. I would love to read A Wall of White.

  15. i've also read into thin air (and into the wild) by john krakauer. i'm not too much of a dare devil and prefer to only read about such things. bill bryson's 'a walk in the woods' is about his attempt to hike the appalacian trail with pretty much no experience or prepartion. it's a funny read but light on any real death-defying adventure.

  16. Farm Lane Books - I remember Touching the Void quite's stuck with me for a good long while, so it must have been pretty good. I think I saw bits and pieces of the film, too. Regardless, those guys were true climbers.

    Nicole - Into the Wild was good, but I thought Into Thin Air was better by far. I just couldn't summon any sympathy for the kid in Into the Wild....I mean, as an Alaskan, I know that if you're dumb enough to walk unprepared into the Alaskan bush, you kinda get what you deserve.

    Sandy - LOL. I think we are very similar!

    Misfit - very cool....which mountain in August? Kilimanjaro is about the only one I would even consider since it's essentially a day hike. ;)

    BethF- isn't it amazing how many of these books get read without our even really noticing?

    Kathy....guess they can't all be winners and I have a knack for picking some not-so-much-winners, ha.

  17. Marie, just wait until I start offering to pay someone to take it off my hands, lol.

    Lit and Life - West With the Night is one of my all time favorites. As a pilot, I can vouch that Beryl hits it right on the nose with that book. The woman could fly circles around Earhart and didn't get but half the recognition for her true piloting skill.

    Rhapsodyinbooks - enjoy the's going to keep me busy for a while, too. :)

    Caite - read it!

    BookResort - LOL!

    Luanne - steal 'till you're heart's content!

    Veens - have fun tracking them all down.... :)

    Kathleen - YAY, an entrant! LOL. that's about the most awesome blog name I've seen in years. The Appalachian Trail book sounds like a nice change of pace actually...I'm going to go track that one down. Thanks for the recommendation!

  18. I loved loved loved "Into Thin Air." Fantastic! And I heard there was a new book out by a guy who survived a plane crash that killed his dad but his dad's training of him helped him survive. It sounds good (can't remember the title though ACK!) and right up your alley. I'm going to have to check out Seven Summits too!

  19. Please include me in your giveaway.

    Canadian Contests, Freebies, Coupons, Deals, Games and Chat - join us at


  20. I have Into Thin Air on my "to-read" shelf. I'm glad to see that you liked it so much.

  21. I would love to be included in this giveaway.


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