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Lover of Books

By Stephanie Wheeler

I am a lover of books. I have been an avid reader all my life. I read across all genres. I go in and out of book clubs as they gather, live, and then gradually disband. I read to and with my own children, and now delight as they read on their own.

In my early years I read the books my parents bought and lovingly provided prominent shelf space for in our home. When I got to junior high, where I was student librarian, I decided I would start at the far end of the library and simply read the books in order, to see how far I could get before I moved on to high school. I did not complete the library, though I read some very interesting books. In high school I had a crush on a football player yet had no clue how the game of football worked. So, I checked a book out of the library and learned at least the basics.

I love books.

In 2008 I read On Writing by Stephen King (a book I highly recommend) in which he shared that he reads at least one book a week — that instantly became my personal goal. I got out my reading notebook, skipped ahead to blank pages and started my reading list. I have written down every book I have read since 2009, and I have read a minimum of 52 books a year since then. I usually come in around 80.

My point is that my posts will run the gauntlet of books read and reviewed. I have no special ability or credential that makes me qualified in a professional sense, but if love of the subject matter counts, I am eminently qualified.

So far this year I have completed 39 books, and I’m in the middle of about 4 others (I always read more than one book at a time). This month I am reviewing three mountaineering books by Ed Viesturs and David Roberts: No Shortcuts to the Top, K2: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain, and The Mountain: My Time on Everest.

As often happens with me, I did not read them in order of publication. I am fascinated with Mount Everest and Amazon knows this. A friend recommended The Mountain and I read it and was so impressed with Viesturs that I searched out his other books.

I am not a climber (though I imagine I could have been in another life - or may be in a future life), but I am in awe of people who see these seemingly unreachable places, and then persevere until they attain their goal, or die trying.

What impresses me with Ed Viesturs is that he not only survived all of his climbs (he’s among the handful of people who’ve summited all 14 of the world’s eight-thousander peaks) but he did it without supplemental oxygen and never even had frostbite. He’s had many close friends and climbing partners perish in pursuit of a summit, but he decided at the beginning of his climbing career that there were certain rules he would abide by — and coming home safely was the number one goal (ahead of summiting itself). Only once did he let his partners convince him to press on when he himself would have turned back by his own rules. They did achieve the summit (of K2 no less), but the experience was so negative that he never again climbed with those partners, and he never broke his rules again.

His books can be read in any order but, if you’re interested in reading some of his work, I would start with No Shortcuts to the Top. The takeaway for we non-climbers is the example of making a goal and putting in the time and effort to achieve it. Modern life has created many short-cuts and made us lazy in a lot of ways.

One place I want to remain vigilant is in raising my children, and there are no short-cuts for that. We all have approximately 18 years. No matter where you might be on the climb of mothering, re-examining your plan and setting some new goals can help. Ed Viestur’s books might help inspire you (and, if you just want to go to the mountains and not think about parenting at all, I recommend these books for that, too!)

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Unknown member
Aug 13, 2022

Wow! Made me want to be a mountain climber. Even more important this made me want to be a reader.

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