10 books directly related to the Alps 📚

All 10 Alps books as recommended by authors and experts. Updated weekly.

A Tramp Abroad

By Mark Twain,

Book cover of A Tramp Abroad

Why this book?

In a travelogue which spends much of its time in the Alps, Twain delivers anecdotes of haplessness that will make readers smile, if not laugh out loud. Twain portrays himself as an American naif who thinks he understands everything while actually understanding nothing at all.


Terror on the Mountain

By Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz,

Book cover of Terror on the Mountain

Why this book?

Swiss novelist Ramuz delivers a taut, engrossing tale about Alpine villagers whose decision to tempt fate ends in disaster. Ignoring the pleas of their elders, some young men take their flocks to summer in an upland mountain pasture that is reputed locally to be a cursed place. It turns out that the reputation is well earned.


First on the Rope

By Roger Frison-Roche,

Book cover of First on the Rope

Why this book?

France’s highest-profile contribution to Alpine fiction, Frison-Roche’s story traces the trials and joys of a family of mountaineers in Chamonix during the 1920s and 1930s. Spectacular evocations of the grandeur of Mont Blanc and the dangers of traversing the terrors of the unforgiving mountains and glaciers – it’s all here, and served up with panache.


Calculated Risk: Adventure and Romance in Scotland and the Alps

By Dougal Haston,

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

Why this book?

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 lecture at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh after the successful Everest the Hard Way expedition. His eyes were like blue searchlights. He died as he lived, right on the edge.


One by One

By Ruth Ware,

Book cover of One by One

Why this book?

Set in the frigid French Alps, One by One blends Christie-esque mystery with modern technology and a cast of deliciously unlikeable characters who die—you guessed it—one by one. A team of app developers rents a luxurious ski chalet and becomes trapped inside after a terrible avalanche. One of them is a murderer, but who is it? I picked up this book after indulging in some breathtaking hikes in the Alps and falling in love with the landscape. I am drawn to (and write) mystery thrillers that strip away the luxuries of modern technology by thrusting the characters into high altitudes. The characters in One by One must depend on their own smarts to not only discover who-dun-it, but also to escape with their lives.


The White War: Life and Death on the Italian Front, 1915-1919

By Mark Thompson,

Book cover of The White War: Life and Death on the Italian Front, 1915-1919

Why this book?

Even though Italy was one of the “victors,” its participation on the allied side was the cause of the government’s collapse, and the rise Mussolini and the fascisti, with all the calamities that followed.  This book provides a truly horrifying explanation of why that was so.


G.

By John Berger,

Book cover of G.

Why this book?

John Berger was a fantastic cultural observer and art critic, this book is erotic both in its observation of culture and context but also of human fallibility, and psychic and psychological transportation of love itself. It had a big influence on me as an art student and for the brief years when I was a sculptor. What I love about it is its empathy for both the female and male inner erotic life, although it is set in England and Europe at the end of the 19th century, Berger’s razor-sharp, succinct blending of the internal and external world is both moving and sensual. 


The White Spider: The Classic Account of the Ascent of the Eiger

By Heinrich Harrer,

Book cover of The White Spider: The Classic Account of the Ascent of the Eiger

Why this book?

The monster of the Bernese Alps, the north face of the Eiger (“the Ogre”), a sheer face of rock taunting and tempting intrepid Alpinists, resisted all attempts to climb it until 1938. Prior to that, climbers fell to their deaths with distressing frequency, made even more macabre by an accident of touristic geography that provided a luxury hotel on a nearby hillock with an unobstructed view of the serial catastrophes. The Austrian Herrer at last summited the face in this white-knuckle tale of determination, grit and luck.


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

By Frank Smythe,

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

Why this book?

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.


Suspicious

By Sara Rosett,

Book cover of Suspicious

Why this book?

This is a cozy mystery that gives the reader a nice tour of Rome from a bargain tourist perspective. The story takes the reader north into Austria and Germany so you gain a feeling for the Alps. The couple that leads the story are suspects in a series of jewelry heists and work their way through Northern Italy and beyond to solve the thefts. It’s a light-hearted story with a little romance, no cuss words, and little violence.