Friday, June 15, 2007

Summer Reading Ideas

The National Geographic has come out with their top 100 Adventure Books Of All Time. There were just a few books about women and adventure. Here they are...

# 18. Travels in West Africa, by Mary Kingsley (1897) She went by steamboat and canoe, accompanied by native crewmen, up the Ogooué. She fought off crocodiles with a paddle, hit a leopard over the head with a pot, and wrote with equal charm about beetles and burial customs. Other African explorers were more daring, none more engaging. When she died, the British buried her at sea with full military honors. National Geographic Books, 2002.

# 33. A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains, by Isabella L. Bird (1879) Bird was no lady in the conventional Victorian sense but a world traveler. She ventured through the Rockies when they were still wild, met up with grizzly bears, and climbed Longs Peak when it was thought impossible for a woman to do so. She had to thaw her ink on the cabin stove to write, and she wrote delightfully.Hardcover edition from University of Oklahoma Press, 1999.

# 65. Annapurna: A Woman's Place, by Arlene Blum (1980) Ask a woman climber what inspired her and she's likely to name this book, the story of a 1978 ascent of Annapurna by a team of women, two of whom died. "What's a nice girl from the Midwest doing up here all alone?" the author asks herself at one point. Surviving. Blum's depiction of the team's Sherpas irks some climbers, but there's no denying the book's impact.Sierra Club, 1998.

(I've actually read Annapurna. It's an incredible book. If you haven't read it yet, this should be your first book on your Summer Reading List.)

#82. Terra Incognita, by Sara Wheeler (1996) Now that Antarctica has been explored, is there anything more to say about it? Ask Wheeler, who went down to find out and came back to write this excellent book, in which she recounts some of the old Antarctic stories and tells many new ones, too.Modern Library, 1999.

#95. I Married Adventure, by Osa Johnson (1940) And so she did, when she wed wildlife photographer Martin Johnson, who took her to Africa and the Pacific and into a very exciting life indeed. She tells their story in straight-on American gee-whiz style; it would have the feel of Oklahoma!, say, if those weren't real, and very angry, elephants chasing them up trees.Kodansha, 1997.


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