I just started a book by James Ballard called One and Two Halves to K2: The Journey of Alison Hargreaves Family to K2. Ballard wrote this book after his wife, died while descending from K2 In August of 1995′ Hargreaves was a seasoned climber and was the first woman to reach the Summit of Everest unsupported and without oxygen. After her death, Ballard takes their two small children to “Mum’s last mountain” and this is their story intertwined with Allison’s and their history together. This book is out of print but you can find a used copy on Amazon for under a dollar. I have a collection of mountaineering books with a focus on women and am fascinated by the extreme and extraordinary will and mental and physical health needed for extreme sports. The added controversy of motherhood for women adds another dimension. I became interested in women climbers specifically after reading Jennifer Jordan‘s excellent book Savage Summit about the six women, Hargreaves included, who had successfully summitted at the time of that publication. Be forewarned, climbers get summit fever–readers get summit book fever!
Following International Women’s Day yesterday, I started reading The Shadow of the Crescent Moon: A Novel by Fatima Bhutto. This debut will be released March 24th and if it continues to be as riveting as the beginning, put it on your library reserve list or pre-order list now. Here’s what the publisher says: Long-listed for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, a lyrical novel set over the course of one morning in a small town in Pakistan
Fatima Bhutto’s stunning debut novel chronicles the lives of five young people trying to live and love in a world on fire. Set during the American invasion of Afghanistan, The Shadow of the Crescent Moon begins and ends one rain-swept Friday morning in Mir Ali, a small town in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas close to the Afghan border.
Three brothers meet for breakfast. Soon after, the eldest, Aman Erum, recently returned from America, hails a taxi to the local mosque. Sikandar, a doctor, drives to the hospital where he works, but must first stop to collect his troubled wife, who has not joined the family that morning. No one knows where Mina goes these days. Sikandar is exhausted by Mina’s instability and by the pall of grief that has enveloped his family. But when, later in the morning, the two are taken hostage by members of the Taliban, Mina will prove to be stronger than anyone could have imagined.
The youngest of the three leaves for town on a motorbike. An idealist, Hayat holds strong to his deathbed promise to their father—to free Mir Ali from oppressors. Seated behind him is a beautiful, fragile girl whose life and thoughts are overwhelmed by the war that has enveloped the place of her birth.Three hours later their day will end in devastating circumstances. In this beautifully observed novel, individuals are pushed to make terrible choices. And as the events of this single morning unfold, one woman is at the center of it all.
And for the mystery in my life, I plan on reading Michael Connelly‘ s latest Harry Bosch, The Burning Room. Those of you who have read Connelly don’t miss one and those of you who don’t who like smart detective books need to start reading. This is a series thatched like a fine wine. Connelly has gotten better with nineteen Bosch novels rather than fizzled like some other multi-book series writers. Bosch is also a new series that can be streamed from Amazon TV. I watched the first episode when it was in the voting process and it is good if you are a die-hard fan. However, like most bibliophiles, I say stick to the page.
Finally, I am always more grounded when I am reading something spiritual or of faith. I have tested this on occasion and I feel misguided and out of sorts when I forgo a book of this nature for a while. I am always grappling with the God of my understanding and that’s hard enough so I try to read about something and everything with an open mind and an open heart. This week I’m looking at The Fitting Room: Putting on the Character of Christ by Kelly Minter. This slim volume is about a spiritual makeover, clothing ourselves in kindness, forgiveness, and other related virtues associated with Christ. I read Minter’s most recent book about the Amazon and her work there called Wherever the River Runsand liked her narrative so much I picked this up. She writes like one of your good friends– funny, vulnerable, and sometimes full of really good advice. I have to admit when she said she was crying in the Amazon and her mascara was running she won me over. I thought, who takes mascara to the Amazon Jungle!? She is from Nashville, Tennessee and being her Kentucky neighbor may also have something to do with it!
So, I know what I’ll be in bed reading this week. It’s Monday. What are you reading?