10 books like The Living Mountain

By Nan Shepherd,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Living Mountain. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Kangchenjunga Adventure

By Frank Smythe,

Book cover of The Kangchenjunga Adventure: The 1930 Expedition to the Third Highest Mountain in the World

I first read this among my father’s books as a child. I believe he had met Smythe in London in the early 30, thus his signed copy of The Valley of Flowers. This is the quintessential book of that era of passionate amateur climbing and exploration, the age of Shipton and Tilman, of highly knowledgeable and deeply eccentric personalities. The writing is lyrical, just this side of purple, earthed by Smythe’s passion for botany, photography, and close observation. In the true sense of amateur, Kanchenjunga is a great adventure expedition in a time that will not come again. This is the book that prompted me to accept an invitation to climb with an expedition on a serious Himalayan mountain with real mountaineers, despite my lack of experience and hardwired dislike of heights. It changed my life. I like to think Smythe would have approved.

The Kangchenjunga Adventure

By Frank Smythe,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Kangchenjunga Adventure as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'We went to Kangchenjunga in response not to the dictates of science, but in obedience to that indefinable urge men call adventure.'

In 1930, an expedition set out to climb the world's third-highest mountain, Kangchenjunga. As yet unclimbed, a number of attempts had been made on the peak, including two in the previous year. The Kangchenjunga Adventure records Frank Smythe's attempts as part of an international team to reach the summit, how a deadly avalanche, which killed one of the sherpas, brought an end to their climb and how they turned their attentions instead to Jonsong Peak, which offered a…


Tents in the Clouds

By Monica Jackson, Elizabeth Stark,

Book cover of Tents in the Clouds: The First Women's Himalayan Expedition

Betty Stark was the aunt of a friend of mine, and she was part of the first all women Himalayan expedition in 1955. It is an antidote to the very all-male outlook and structures of many climbs of that time. It had no leader, no ‘lead climbers’. Instead, they were a small team of friends, all experienced and capable, who wished only to explore, encounter, and climb as high and hard as they could. It is anti-heroic, recording the pains, sufferings, and losses and highs, quietly downplaying and yet the efforts and dangers come through. They were outliers and trailblazers. They made their point. They were the point.

Tents in the Clouds

By Monica Jackson, Elizabeth Stark,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tents in the Clouds as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Documents the expedition of three British women to unexplored areas on the border of Nepal in Tibet in 1955.


Calculated Risk

By Dougal Haston,

Book cover of Calculated Risk: Adventure and Romance in Scotland and the Alps

The sole novel left by legendary Scottish mountaineer Dougal Haston - prickly, opinionated, striking, not given to self-doubt, probably the finest all-around climber of his day. It has a great opening when an incensed young ambitious climber barrels his motorbike up the winding Loch Lubnaig road on his way to Glencoe, goes on to include a fictional version of his epic on the Eiger when the great American climber1966  John Harlin fell to his death beside him, and Haston helped rescue a stranded group of climbers and after a week-long drama finally summited the North Face. It is raw, emotional (has a classic climber’s love story), philosophical, full of impatience to climb, to live more. After finishing the first draft in Chamonix, Haston went to ski the same avalanche-prone gully where his central character in the book had been avalanched and miraculously survived – Haston did not. I saw him…

Calculated Risk

By Dougal Haston,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Calculated Risk as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When John Dunlop gives Judy Scott a lift to Glencoe on his motorbike, both are surprised when a relationship develops. But for John all passions must be relegated to the demands of the big climb. The focus soon shifts to the Alps where he teams up with the American climber Jack McDonald. Their careful planning goes awry and a major first ascent bid turns into an intense struggle bringing disaster and tragedy. Calculated Risk is a fictional portrayal of the world of mountaineering, of climbing the most demanding routes at a time when climbing was still emerging from its primitive…


The Ascent of Rum Doodle

By W.E. Bowman,

Book cover of The Ascent of Rum Doodle

Probably the funniest and most inventive climbing expedition book ever written, loved by climbers who appreciate its satire, spoof, mickey-taking pastiche of Serious Mountaineering Expedition Books. It is Chris Bonnington turned Wodehouse, Jon Krakauer rendered by Spike Milligan. Its knowing self-mockery of all the tropes and self-important delusions of Climbing is sharp and accurate enough to raise it high above whimsy. Wildly creative, it is impossible to read without snorting in one’s sleeping bag. It is the comic, ridiculous side of the great pursuit of Getting Higher.

The Ascent of Rum Doodle

By W.E. Bowman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Ascent of Rum Doodle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An English comic novel about a World War II expedition to a Himalayan peak.

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY BILL BRYSON

An outrageously funny spoof about the ascent of a 40,000-and-a-half-foot peak, The Ascent of Rum Doodle has been a cult favourite since its publication in 1956. Led by the reliably under-insightful Binder, a team of seven British men -- including Dr Prone (constantly ill), Jungle the route finder (constantly lost), Constant the diplomat (constantly arguing) -- and 3,000 Yogistani porters sets out to conquer the highest peak in the Himalayas.


What the Psychic Told the Pilgrim

By Jane Christmas,

Book cover of What the Psychic Told the Pilgrim: A Midlife Misadventure on Spain's Camino de Santiago de Compostela

Christmas's tale was one of the two narratives (out of dozens I read) that inspired me to make pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago, the other being Emilio Estevez's film, The Way. What I admire about Christmas is that she is unafraid of criticisms that will inevitably be directed towards a female writer who tells it all, just like it is: Her distaste for the women who accompanied her on a pilgrimage. Her decision to move on alone. Her unstinting descriptions of dismay about the physical challenges of long-distance hiking. Her distrust of men who have intentions on her person! Yet Christmas's experience is not all negative. Like other "true pilgrims," Christmas steps out of her western, worried, ego-centered self and finds a refreshing new perspective.

What the Psychic Told the Pilgrim

By Jane Christmas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What the Psychic Told the Pilgrim as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

To celebrate her 50th birthday and face the challenges of mid-life, Jane Christmas joins 14 women to hike the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. Despite a psychic's warning of catfights, death, and a sexy, fair-haired man, Christmas soldiers on. After a week of squabbles, the group splinters and the real adventure begins. In vivid, witty style, she recounts her battles with loneliness, hallucinations of being joined by Steve Martin, as well as picturesque villages and even the fair-haired man. What the Psychic Told the Pilgrim is one trip neither the author nor the reader will forget.


Notes from a Small Island

By Bill Bryson,

Book cover of Notes from a Small Island

In choosing my favorite Bryson travelogue for my list, I alternated between A Walk in the Woods and Notes from a Small Island. The latter's setting gives more material—no less than Britain's entire history, geography, and culture—in contrast to the Appalachian Trail's "Long Green Tunnel" of rocks, trees, and shoddy shelters. Bryson's good nature redeems his shortcomings. Even when he's taking the mickey out of individuals and nationalities, it's clear that he's playing the English national sport rather than condescending. Bryson is all voice; he is not particularly interesting when expatiating on science or history or industry (yawn!), but he is always funny when he reflects on human folly. His deft use of hyperbole, understatement, and paradox recalls English masters such as Jonathan Swift, Jane Austen, and Geoffrey Chaucer.

Notes from a Small Island

By Bill Bryson,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Notes from a Small Island as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1995, before leaving his much-loved home in North Yorkshire to move back to the States for a few years with his family, Bill Bryson insisted on taking one last trip around Britain, a sort of valedictory tour of the green and kindly island that had so long been his home. His aim was to take stock of the nation's public face and private parts (as it were), and to analyse what precisely it was he loved so much about a country that had produced Marmite; a military hero whose dying wish was to be kissed by a fellow named…


Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

By Annie Dillard,

Book cover of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

This winner of the Pulitzer Prize is not about going someplace, but about truly discovering what is in your own backyard. Dillard spent a year alone studying in intimate detail the natural environment around her Virginia home. Her realizations about the capriciousness and brutality of life on earth were both unsettling and beautifully powerful. She said: “There is no one standing over evolution with a blue pencil to say, ‘now that one, there, is absolutely ridiculous and I won’t have it. Not only did the creator create everything, but that he is apt to create anything. He will stop at nothing.” If you are fascinated by nature, you must read this book.

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

By Annie Dillard,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Pilgrim at Tinker Creek as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek has continued to change people's lives for over thirty years. A passionate and poetic reflection on the mystery of creation with its beauty on the one hand and cruelty on the other, it has become a modern American literary classic in the tradition of Thoreau. Living in solitude in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Roanoke, Virginia, and observing the changing seasons, the flora and fauna, the author reflects on the nature of creation and of the God who set it in motion. Whether the images are cruel or lovely, the language is memorably beautiful and poetic,…


Down the Nile

By Rosemary Mahoney,

Book cover of Down the Nile: Alone in a Fisherman's Skiff

Mahoney's courage, intelligence, and eloquence make her an intimate companion on my armchair journeys. I knew I could follow this woman anywhere when she wrote of camping in Israel to the sound of bombs in Palestine (A Singular Pilgrimage). The dangers are even greater when she decides to paddle down the Nile in a rowboat. She presents such a persistent challenge to Egyptians—a woman traveling alone, buying a boat, talking to strangers—that she ultimately concedes and dons a masculine disguise. She often leavens the dread that readers may feel with irony and humor. When an Egyptian man complains of the "whorish" British women who hire gigolos, Rosemary levelly replies that it must be the gigolos who are prostitutes since they are the ones selling their bodies.

Down the Nile

By Rosemary Mahoney,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Down the Nile as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Rosemary Mahoney, in 1998, took a solo trip down the Nile in a seven-foot rowboat, she discovered modern Egypt for herself. As a rower, she faced crocodiles and testy river currents; as a female, she confronted deeply-held beliefs about foreign women while cautiously remaining open to genuine friendship; and, as a traveller, she experienced events that ranged from the humorous to the hair-raising - including an encounter that began as one of the most frightening of her life and ended as an edifying and chastening lesson in human nature and cultural misunderstanding.
Whether she's meeting Nubians and Egyptians, or…


The Salt Path

By Raynor Winn,

Book cover of The Salt Path: A Memoir

This travel memoir is profoundly engaging. Before reading it, I had never thought of the archetypal Trail—that magnetic beacon of healthy recreation—as an actual home for those who couldn't afford a house or apartment. It is precisely Raynor and (husband) Moth's precarious economic situation that gives a cliff-hanging appeal to this tale of hiking the South West Coast trail through Somerset, Cornwall, and Devon. At quaint village stores, this couple doesn't just resupply with noodles, tea, and Marmite. They actually pick up their weekly dole check, which isn't always enough to keep them in Cadburys. On the Salt Path, British class snobbery is alive and well: many people snub them instantly upon learning their circumstances. I felt both humbled and uplifted by this inspiring story.

The Salt Path

By Raynor Winn,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Salt Path as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Polished, poignant... an inspiring story of true love."-Entertainment Weekly

A BEST BOOK OF 2019, NPR's Book Concierge
SHORTLISTED FOR THE COSTA BOOK AWARD
OVER 400,000 COPIES SOLD WORLDWIDE

The true story of a couple who lost everything and embarked on a transformative journey walking the South West Coast Path in England

Just days after Raynor Winn learns that Moth, her husband of thirty-two years, is terminally ill, their house and farm are taken away, along with their livelihood. With nothing left and little time, they make the brave and impulsive decision to walk the 630 miles of the sea-swept South…


The Old Ways

By Robert MacFarlane,

Book cover of The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot

This was the first piece of British nature writing I ever read, and it inspired me to get up out of my armchair and go for an adventure on the Ridgeway. The adventure ended in some of the worst blisters I have ever seen, but the experience stayed with me and rekindled a love for the British landscape. I find it a magical idea that our land is crisscrossed by a network of ancient pathways, and that we are walking in the footsteps of our ancestors. 

The Old Ways

By Robert MacFarlane,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Old Ways as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The acclaimed author of The Wild Places and Underland examines the subtle ways we are shaped by the landscapes through which we move

Chosen by Slate as one of the 50 best nonfiction books of the past 25 years

In this exquisitely written book, which folds together natural history, cartography, geology, and literature, Robert Macfarlane sets off to follow the ancient routes that crisscross both the landscape of the British Isles and its waters and territories beyond. The result is an immersive, enthralling exploration of the voices that haunt old paths and the stories our tracks tell. Macfarlane's journeys take…


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