Title: Into Thin Air
Author: Jon Krakauer
Published: 1997 Pages: 333
Why I read it: After reading Into the Wild with my brother this summer, he gave me Into Thin Air for my birthday. My new goal is to read gifted books sooner rather than later!
Into Thin Air in short: In the spring of 1996, journalist Jon Krakauer joined a Mount Everest climbing expedition in what ended up being the deadliest Everest climbing season ever. Krakauer reports the events that led to the catastrophe and theorizes on what could have gone wrong.
Thoughts in General: Well, hopefully how long it took me to read this book isn't an indication of how good it is. But, I do have to allow that it took me about two months to finish and I often only read a few pages here and there with days of nothing in between. Such is the life with a baby I've learned. I do much better the audiobooks on my work commute these days.
You know, I try writing about books without the little asides and find I just can't do it anymore. Ramble ramble ramble. You guys asked me a few questions regarding Into Thin Air on my "I finished a book" post, so I'm going to let that guide this review.
Into Thin Air is about climbing Everest, right? Was all the climbing stuff boring or was the whole story interesting so it didn't matter? (thanks Jenny Girl!)
Yes, Into Thin Air is about climbing Everest. Krakauer was intially assigned to write an article about the commercialization of Everest but the article was heavily shaped by the tragic events during his climb. I found the book to be very interesting, but sometimes the climbing information was so technical that I had a hard time wrapping my head around parts of the book. While Krakauer gives a lot of background about Everest and climbing, my prior knowledge was so limited that a brief bit about mountain climbing basics actually would have been helpful for me.
Did you know much about mountain climbing before you read it? What surprised you most? (thanks Joanna!)
I didn't know very much about mountain climbing before reading Into Thin Air and at times I felt like a better understanding of mountain climbing would have helped me while reading the book. Krakauer does go into a lot of detail about the process of acclimating and I was stunned to learn that the process of climbing Everest can take weeks or months! While sometimes the book was a little too technical, it was also very fascinating.
What was your favorite word from the book? (thanks Stacy, who says she loves using the word "sherpa").
Bahhahahaha! But honestly? My family does Words of the Week with my little brother so I picked up on all of the vocab words--Krakauer uses the word "abate" a lot. And "balk." Sherpa was a great one and I admit I didn't really understand what a Sherpa was before reading Into Thin Air. Crampons (the climbing shoe spikes) was another term I learned from the book.
Will you read more Krakauer and have you seen the Everest IMAX movie? (thanks JoAnn!)
Yes, I'm very interested in reading more Krakauer. I almost picked up Eiger Dreams this past weekend but am also really interested in Under the Banner of Heaven. Of course I already listened to and loved Into the Wild. What do you recommend by Krakauer?? And I'm glad JoAnn mentioned the IMAX movie--I hadn't even thought about seeking that out. Would be fascinating, I think!
Into Thin Air vs. Into The Wild. How do they compare? Which did you like better? Why? (thanks Elise!)
I think it's probably easier to note how Into Thin Air and Into the Wild are different! Most notably, Krakauer is a character in his own story for Into Thin Air whereas Into the Wild was mostly about other people (with a small exception). I liked Into the Wild better but this might have been because I listened or because I was reading it with my brother or because it only took a week rather than two months or or or. I definitely recommend both but if I could only recommend one, I'd recommend Into the Wild.
Bottom Line: I hear lots of people say they LOVED this book. I didn't LOVE it, but I did like Into Thin Air a lot. I really wish that there was some type of map or diagram of Everest as I was constantly googling images to get a better visual of the various camps and landmarks described in the book. And some of the parts where Krakauer defends his book in response to Boukreev, a guide who gives his own account of the events in his book The Climb, made me feel a bit uncomfortable. Krakauer's statements really reminded me that there are multiple perspectives to every story. I certainly don't want to end this post on a negative note, so in short--fascinating fascinating book.
Have you read Into Thin Air? What did you think? What Krakauer would you recommend?