Into Thin Air

by

Author:  Jon Krakauer

Title: Into Thin Air:  A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster

Genre: Nonfiction

Publication Date: 1997

Number of Pages: 332

Geographical Setting: Mount Everest (The border between China and Nepal)

Time Period:  1996

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: The story begins when journalist Jon Krakauer is asked by Outside magazine to report on the booming popularity of high-altitude climbing.  At the time, mountaineering had become a fad.  People wanted to pay to climb Everest, but they lacked one essential thing: the skills required to survive the climb.  Many ill-prepared men and women accompanied Krakauer on his ascent, and as a result the expedition ended up being the most deadly in Everest’s history.  This is the story of exactly what went wrong.

In this reflective and haunting book, Krakauer provides a first person account of the disaster.  In addition to great detail about the actual climb, he provides plenty of background information about previous Everest expeditions, as well as the history of the indigenous men, Sherpas, who assist Westerners in their climb.  As informative as it is thrilling, this book is sure to have readers on the edge of their seat.

Subject Headings: Adventure; Expeditions; Extreme Sports; Krakauer, Jon; Mount Everest Expedition 1996; Mountaineering; Mountaineering Accidents; Mountaineers

Appeal: Haunting, Suspenseful, Informative, Reflective, Detailed, Historical Details, Journalistic, Thoughtful, Plot-Driven, Chilling, Claustrophobic, Atmospheric, Well Developed

3 Appeal Terms That Best Describe This Book: Suspenseful, Chilling, Informative

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works:

Between a Rock and a Hard Place (by Aron Ralston): This is the shocking memoir of an adventurer who’s hike through the Utah canyons took a turn for the worse when a boulder fell and trapped him, by the arm, in the middle of a canyon.  The book will appeal to readers intrigued by an adventure gone totally wrong.

Climbing Self Rescue:  Improvising Solutions for Serious Situations (by Mike Clelland): This resource helps readers learn self rescue procedures that are effective for rock, snow, and ice climbers alike.  Including 40 different rescue scenarios, this book helps climbers learn how to get themselves out of a jam using typical climbing gear and common sense.  This book will appeal to readers interested in the rock climbing aspect of Into Thin Air.

Touching My Father’s Soul:  A Sherpa’s Journey to the Top of Everest (by Jamling Tenzing Norgay):  The author, a local man who makes a living assisting tourists in their climb up Everest, describes his experiences.  In addition to providing stories of his time on Everest, he also narrates the story of his father, the first Sherpa to reach the peak of Everest.  He provides background information about the society of the Sherpa, and the Tibetan Buddhists who assist Western climbers in their ascent.  This book will appeal to readers who were intrigued by the local culture surrounding Mount Everest.

3 Relevant Fiction Works:

A Change in Altitude (by Anita Shreve): This reflective and psychological work involves a woman coming to terms with a tragic accident that takes place while on a climbing expedition.  Readers who enjoyed Into Thin Air but wish for a fictionalized account of a climbing accident may enjoy this book.

Life of Pi (by Yann Martle): This haunting and suspenseful novel is about a zookeeper’s son who is en route to America when his ship sinks.  He finds himself on a lifeboat with various animals, completely lost at sea and struggling to survive.  Readers who enjoyed the fight-for-survival aspect of Into Thin Air may enjoy this bestselling work.

The Ascent (by Jeff Long):  In this novel, ten men and two women attempt to ascend the most dangerous side of Mount Everest.  Readers who are interested in a fictitious account of an attempt at Everest’s peak will likely enjoy this work.

Name: Katie Midgley

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