5 Great Books for July You Probably Haven't Read

Mountaineers Books Senior Editor Mary Metz is a climbing literature (and goat lit) expert. Here she recommends five gems you probably haven't read.
Mountaineers Books Mountaineers Books
July 01, 2017

Mary Metz, current title Senior Editor, is well into her thirty-first year at Mountaineers Books. She found picking only five books to be quite a challenge, so she’s glad that her predecessors already covered two of her all-time faves, Stehekin and A Field Guide to the Cascades and Olympics. And she cheats a little.*

That Untravelled World
Eric Shipton

Of course there’s the Eric Shipton Omnibus, but just looking at that thick volume makes me feel overwhelmed. That  Untravelled World is Shipton’s much more approachable all-in-one autobiography that takes Shipton from delicate school boy to the man known as “Mr. Everest” and beyond. He’s a charming writer, self-deprecating, intelligent, amusing. You get to know not only Shipton but the world in which he lived in this book. It’s fabulous.

City Goats
Jennie Grant

I know, I know; it appears to be a book about raising goats in the city and you’re not going to do that. Just hear me out! Along with the nitty gritty details of caring for goats, City Goats includes some great insights into human, as well as goat, nature. It’s sort of The Egg and I but 21st century. And goats. Read this and I promise you’ll feel a connection to the rent-a-ruminants next time you see them.

Through a Land of Extremes
Nick and Betsy Clinch

One thing I love about books is you pick them up and learn about people, places, and things you didn’t even know existed. Had I heard of St. George and Teresa Littledale before Through A Land of Extremes landed on my desk? Indeed, I had not. But they turn out to be characters whose adventures are so extreme (a married couple—and their little dog—exploring Central Asia during the 19th century) that you wouldn’t believe them if they showed up in a novel.

Where the Pavement Ends
Erika Warmbrunn

An early winner of the Barbara Savage/Miles From Nowhere Memorial Award, Where the Pavement Ends is the story of a young, single woman who decides she’s going to bike across China, Mongolia, and Vietnam. Like you do. What sets this book apart is just how thoroughly Erika enters into the lives of the inhabitants of the lands she visits. She truly gets to know the local people—and you get to feel you know them too. “Highly recommended” as Library Journal reviews used to say.

Strange and Dangerous Dreams
Geoff Powter

Again with the insights into people—this time sometimes famous people that you may have learned about briefly in school or who appear as footnotes in books about exploration. Geoff Powter is a psychologist; Banff Festival goers will know him as the man who does The Interview at the festival each year. In Strange and Dangerous Dreams he delves beneath the surface of people like Meriwether Lewis, Aleister Crowley, and Maurice Wilson to explore their often dark, but always fascinating, motivations.

 *Not included on this list, which is to highlight books you may have overlooked, is what I consider to be the best mountaineering book published since Touching the Void. Simon McCartney’s The Bond is inspiring, gripping, funny, and life-affirming. Get it. Read it. Love it. 


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Helen Cherullo
Helen Cherullo says:
Sat, Jul 1, 2017 6:29 AM

Excellent suggestions-- so many rich stories inspired by mountains and wild things.