Friday, February 20, 2015

Cold enough for you? You've got plenty milk and bread, make sure you have enough books to read!

I was briefly without electricity this week so naturally I began contemplating the end of everything, up to and including me. Fortunately it was sunny enough to read so I made it through but I came up with a list of dire winter reads for those stuck indoors with a snow day who might like to compound a wintry situation.

In the Kingdom of Ice: the grand and terrible polar voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides

This was my hottest (hah!) no-fail nonfiction to recommend last year. So far everyone has raved about it. Forget "cabin fever"!  Try getting "Arctic fever" and join a team of late 19th-century Arctic explorers marooned a thousand miles north of Siberia without taking off your slipper socks.  If "grand and terrible polar voyage" doesn't grab you, well, then you might not be that into it.
The Indifferent Stars Above: the harrowing saga of a Donner Party bride by Daniel James Brown

Did you raid your neighborhood market last weekend in preparation for the snow? Hoarding bread, milk and eggs? Lock your doors and look out for hungry neighbors--you're probably tender and delicious by now! Sorry, cabin fever breeds corny cannibalism jokes. Most people are familiar with the near mythical saga of the Donner Party and their ill-fated journey over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. But how much do you really know?
Pilgrim's Wilderness: a true story of faith and madness on the Alaska frontier by Tom Kizzia

This is one of those crazy stories that stick with you. A charming, musical family with 15 children, modern homesteaders in a way, settle in tiny McCarthy, Alaska. Papa Pilgrim, as the the family's patriarch is known, begins a battle with the National Park Service, revealing his dark past and the troubled and terrifying home life of his family.
Into Thin Air: a personal account of the Mt. Everest disaster by Jon Krakauer

Adventure journalist Jon Krakauer's personal account of the ill-fated Everest climb that left eight people dead. This is one of my go-to nonfiction recommendations when asked for "something really good?", right next to Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Alive: the story of the Andes survivors by Piers Paul Read

A straightforward, unsentimental account of what happened when an amateur rugby team and family and friends crash landed in the Andes mountains. Some were killed in the crash, others survived in the harsh cold and snow for 70 days, resorting to cannibalism to stay alive.

The World Without Us by Alan Weisman

Ever ponder what your street would look like if everybody stopped shoveling their walks or raking the leaves, every pothole was left to reach its full potential, the weeds went unplucked, houses unpainted, roofs untended, and so on? This thoughtful puzzler explores the inexorable breaking down of the man-made world if man were to suddenly cease.

I wonder what Richmond will look like once we thaw out.

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