What books do our authors recommend for Christmas?
November 04, 20214 min read
If you’re fed up with hearing our opinion, then don’t worry – we’ve asked a few of our authors and other epic outdoor adventurers what books they think would make great gifts for Christmas.
Zofia Reych, climber and anthropologist
‘One of my favourite reads ever is Bernadette McDonald’s Freedom Climbers. Beyond being an expert on Himalayan climbing, McDonald is a meticulous historian and a fantastic writer. Her prose is always clear, powerful and evocative – an inspiration for any writer and, most of all, a great pleasure for a reader! Freedom Climbers is the story of Polish mountaineers who dominated the Himalayas in the second half of the 20th century. Being Polish myself, I am impressed with the cultural sensitivity and deep insights offered by the Canadian author. However, Freedom Climbers is a great read for anybody in love with the mountains, climbing and adventure in general – no ties to Poland required, and even no special interest in Himalayanism itself. This is one of the great tales of adventure where the human aspect is as important as the climbing achievements.’
'Find a Way is the story of how Diana Nyad became the first person to swim between Cuba and Florida Keys, aged 64 and after four failed attempts. It wasn’t simply the extraordinary feat but her resolve to keep believing in the dream, in herself, in living a life with no regrets and going on to make a difference with her courage and commitment to others.'
‘For twenty years I have been walking and running around the Scottish hills. As I became more deeply intwined in this landscape, I became aware of an esoteric group of individuals who hunted for snow patches. Chief among them is Iain Cameron, whose new book – The Vanishing Ice – is a lyrical account of a lifetime spent fascinated by small, dirty patches of snow. His book acts as a red flag to our warming planet, but he does it in such a matter-of-fact and charming way that The Vanishing Ice is an extremely pleasant read.’
‘I’d like to recommend The Runner by Markus Torgeby. For anyone who has lost their real connection with running – but not only that, I’d say this is for anyone who has ever felt a bit lost, as though they’ve lost their connection with themselves. I love everything about this book. I love the honesty and the simplicity; the lack of fuss. As a reader I can feel the rawness of Markus’s emotions as he learns to accept and come to terms with his mother’s terminal illness. I’m right there with him running through the woods, in the solitude which will be his home for the next four years. I can’t say enough about this book. You can’t learn to write like this. Reading it feels like a gift.’
‘Jerry Moffatt’s Revelations. There are quite a few biographies out now from climbers around Jerry's era, but Jerry's has got me the most inspired.’
Chris Sidwells, cyclist and writer
‘This year I really enjoyed reading The Climbing Bible. I'm a cyclist not a rock climber, but I'm fascinated by what rock climbers do, and their training methods, written about and illustrated in depth in The Climbing Bible, were a revelation.’
‘Stephen Taylor's Sons of the Waves is a thoroughly well researched and engaging book about the “heroic age of sail” in the British navy. The book follows some remarkable characters throughout their sea-faring lives, and chronicles Britain's role in ending the West African slave trade when other European countries were trying to keep it alive.’
‘John Porter’s One Day as a Tiger is hands down one of my favourite books of all time. Alex MacIntyre’s life feels like a story that needs to be told and the crossover into books about some of the ground-breaking greats like Voytek Kurtyka and Erhard Loretan just does a little to highlight how astonishing MacIntyre was. The title alone is a strong message, so that’s a good start, but the book really paints a picture of someone who lived by their own rules and was part of a small group who took alpine style ascents into the greater ranges.’
Wayne Singleton, runner and athletics coach
‘I'm going with The Overstory by Richard Powers. I was gifted it as part of “bookflood”, an Icelandic tradition I’ve started doing with some friends. The Overstory is an intense read at times, but it is beautiful, especially if you’re a lover of nature (or trees specifically). It has made me anxious, made me cry, and made my heart leap at different points.’
'There is an old saying: road running is a science; fell running is an art. Ally Beaven’s book Broken brings to life this form of art and its various genres, using his dry wit to paint a fantastic picture of the mad year that was 2020. In a time where the world seemed bleak and depressing, Ally’s phenomenal book chucked a splash of colour into my reading list and had me laughing out loud as he recounted the incredible feats in this beautiful sport.'
Alastair Humphreys, adventurer and author
'I loved The Moth and the Mountain. Having read approximately eight million books about climbing Everest I found the subtle nuances of this one rather refreshing. The backstory and the character analysis were at least as interesting as the bonkers, brilliant, doomed adventure.'