Before we start, make sure your iPad or preferred electronic reading device is plugged in. When the power goes, you’ll be glad you’ve got a full charge. Go ahead. We’ll wait.
According to the weather prognosticators there’s a good chance we won’t be able to venture out for the next couple days, nor will we have power. To me, that translates to the JetBoil with a full canister of fuel, my headlamp with a fresh threesome of lithium AAAs and my iPad stocked with several hours worth of adventure reading.
Here’s a look at the adventure stories I’ve stocked up on my iPad. Feel free to let us know what’s on yours.
“Breaking the Waves,” by Ariel Levy (The New Yorker, Feb. 10, 2014,). Diana Nyad made a name for herself as a distance swimmer in the 1970s, swimming around Manhattan Island, swimming from Bermuda to Florida, trying to swim from Havana to Florida. Then, at 30, she retired and didn’t swim a stroke for 30 years. What happened in the interim and why, at 60, did she decide to try the 111-mile Cuba/Florida swim again? Find out here.
“Thicker Than Water,” by Tad Friend (The New Yorker, Feb. 10, 2014). In the same issue of The New Yorker is the tale of a fishing trip off Nantucket gone bad and the pathology of a fishing family that nearly cost a fishing party its lives — and ultimately saved them. Read the story here.
“Into the Pines,” by Patrick Michels (Texas Observer, Feb. 5, 2014). Jeffrey Holliman’s woes were mounting. He owed one ex-wife $75,000 in back child support, another $50,000 for the same. He owed a former employer $140,000 in court-ordered restitution for money he’d embezzled, and he had a running tab of $60 a month for his probation. “Holliman stayed with his brother for a while and then with his son, who was 23 and earned his living at Arby’s,” writes Michels. “But Holliman realized he was a nuisance. He felt trapped. So he left.” With only a tarp and a knife, he walked into the woods to live in September 2012. His story of survival, complete with frequent break-ins, can be found here.
“Tales from the World Before Yesterday,” a conversation with Jared Diamond (Edge, Feb. 12, 2014). Jared Diamond is professor of Geography at the University of California, Los Angeles and author of several books, including Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed,; the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the widely acclaimed Guns, Germs, and Steel: the Fates of Human Societies, which is the winner of Britain’s 1998 Rhone-Poulenc Science Book Prize; and his just-published The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?. Here, he sits down with John Brockman “to listen to this master story-teller hold forth on the windows to our past, whether the topic is rare birds, ‘primitive peoples’, birth practices, the lives of the old, war, or the characteristics of all human societies until the rise of state societies with laws and government, beginning around 5,500 years ago.”
“GPS and the End of the Road,” by Ari N. Schulman (The New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology and Society, Spring 2011). As a hike leader, my favorite — and most frequent — question: “What’s the address to the trailhead?” Often, this question is asked of a trailhead in a national forest or, better yet, on the doorstep of a wilderness area. More and more, map reading is becoming a lost art. “The decline of driving, and of finding our own way around, means that we are losing a broad set of skills and practices,” writes Schulman. Find out here about the implications of our map-reading deficiency.
“River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey,” by Candice Millard (2005, Broadway Books). The best way to jump into a great adventure tale is by diving in with four or five hours to spare. Roosevelt may have been one of our more notable Presidents, but above all he was an explorer. When his comeback bid with the Bull Moose Party failed in 1912, Roosevelt embarked on the adventure of his life, to find the headwaters of a Brazilian tributary feeding the Amazon. It was a journey that nearly cost Roosevelt his life. Download the book here.
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For more tales of adventure
The Outside Canon. The folks at Outside magazine have compiled a list of their favorite adventure books and broken it down by categories, which range from Climbing, Bicycling and Fishing, to The World’s Great Places, Modern Masters and Young Turks and Journeys to Hell. Find the canon here.
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