Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Books’ Category

Books I’ve Read Recently, Part 3

“Into Thin Air”, “The Worst Hard Time”, “To Kill a Mockingbird”, and “The God Delusion” are all great books I read sometime in the past year. Read my opinions of them below.

Click the covers to view the books at Barnes and Noble.

 
 
 
 
 

Into Thin Air

Into Thin Air

Into Thin Air
By Jon Krakauer

John Krakauer has got to be one of my all-time favorite authors. He’s a journalist, with excellent research and interviewing skills but also with an uncanny gift of weaving facts and quotes into a gripping, real-life narrative. His books are often way more interesting than many novels I’ve read, and with better plots. You may know him from his first book, “Into the Wild”, which was made into an excellent movie.

“Into Thin Air” reads almost like a horror tale. It tells of Krakauer’s first-person experience during the 1996 Mount Everest disaster, in which eight climbers were killed during a freak snowstorm. Krakauer, a professional climber as well as writer, was sent on that expedition by “Outdoors” magazine to write about climbing Everest, and instead ended up becoming an eye-witness (and participant) in one of the deadliest expeditions in Everest’s history. You can tell this was hard for Krakauer to write, due to the tragic events he witnessed and the mistakes that were made by him and others close to him. Thanks to his memories and interviews of his (surviving) team members, Krakauer provides a harrowing account of exactly what happened that day. Even if you’re not into climbing or outdoors stories, you will love this book, because it’s more a mash-up of mystery, adventure and horror than anything else.

10/10

The Worst Hard Time

The Worst Hard Time

The Worst Hard Time
By Timothy Egan

My grandfather, of all people, recommended this book to me. It’s another true narrative, written by another journalist, but also in a way that’s interesting and never boring. This time, the subject is the Dust Bowl.

This is NOT “The Grapes of Wrath”. This is something way better: truth. Egan traveled all over the Great Plains interviewing survivors, reading old newspapers and perusing diaries and other records, and weaved them all together in this close-up look at hardiness in the face of adversity. “The Worst Hard Time” begins in the late 19th Century by detailing the appeal of the Great Plains in the first place – cheap, fertile land (meaning easy money) – and the rush of thousands of would-be farmers from across the country to this vast expanse. When all that land began to be over-farmed, killing all the natural grass and overturning all the soil, it started a chain reaction that led to horrific dust storms and extreme poverty. The book follows various families from all over the Great Plains, from No Man’s Land in Oklahoma, to Dalhart, Texas and Liberal, Kansas and beyond as they struggled to survive in what was quickly becoming a wasteland. This is a well-written, fascinating look at the extremely hard lives our grandparents and great-grandparents had to live out on the Great Plains. I think it’s a good idea for anyone from Oklahoma to read it, to see where we (and our “Okie” stereotype) came from.

7/10

Read more

Hiking Oklahoma – Roman Nose

View all my pictures from this trip here.

A couple of months ago, I bought this book: Oklahoma Hiking Trails. I bought it as a way to get more exercise, to take part in an activity that I love but have previously only undertaken in places like Colorado or other countries, and to see more of my state. It was a foolproof plan.

Then came the summer from Hell. No way was I going to venture out into consistently 100+ degree weather. So the book just sat on the shelf all summer, until last week’s beautiful 80-degrees allowed me to finally dust it off on Saturday. I recruited two friends, chose one of the few trails within two hours of Oklahoma City and set off early in the morning.

Hiking Roman Nose

Roman Nose State Park, named after a Native American chief, is in the northwestern part of the state just outside of Watonga. It’s an interesting area, geologically. It’s not as far west as the flat dusty plains of western Oklahoma, the kind of landscape you’d also see in the Texas Panhandle. That’s why it’s surprising to be suddenly confronted with trees, mesas and canyons rising out of regular farmland. There’s nothing like it anywhere around it. It’s very beautiful, in a rugged way.

Hiking Roman Nose

Read more

Books I’ve Read Recently, Part 2

Here are some brief reviews on a couple books I’ve read in the past year. I take my own recommendations very highly.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Eating the Dinosaur

Eating the Dinosaur
By Chuck Klosterman

Chuck Klosterman is a genius writer. He’s the sort of guy who was probably a nerd in high school, but it pays off for him years later when he makes tons of money writing about everything that used to make him nerdy, but now is cool. From sitcom laugh tracks to a critique of Garth Brooks and his alter ego, Chris Gaines, any topic is worthy of an in-depth cultural analysis. He’s a pop culture essayist, and he manages to make every chapter seem like he’s writing about something monumental. And, really, he is. Klosterman recognizes societal trends through pop culture the way a statistical analyst recognizes trends through data. And the mere fact he’s comparing Kurt Cobain to David Koresh never strikes you as odd; rather, he seems to be way ahead of us all. If you’re already a fan, this book is better than “IV” but not as good as “Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs”.

8/10
Read more

A Small Confession

I’ve decided I like non-fiction way more than fiction. Which, when I think about it, is pretty strange — I was the kid in elementary school who had the most Accelerated Reader points out of everyone else in the grade, received the certificate in front of the entire school, and was proud of it. Yep. That kid.

Read more

Books I’ve Read Recently, Part 1

Well, I apologize everyone. I’ve been busy the last week and a half – mostly working, traveling, working, attempting to cook, sleeping, working and – well I played Ultimate Frisbee once this week. That was fun.

One thing I attempt to do every summer is read, and read like crazy. During school years, I can maybe read one book a month, if that. But I can usually knock out 12 books and up during summers when I’m just traveling or working, and not really socializing.

Not so much this summer. In Ghana, I did read or finish three books, and here they are:

Read more