The best Everest books

10 authors have picked their favorite books about Mount Everest and why they recommend each book.

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Into Thin Air

By Jon Krakauer,

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

This book might not make you a more effective persuader, but it provides a teeth-clenching case study about biases affecting decision-making when the stakes are at their highest. Why would anyone risk their life to summit Mount Everest? Reading this book suggests that overconfidence bias and the sunk cost effect are likely to blame. 


Who am I?

As an undergraduate in college, I worked selling men’s clothing. There was a rack of suits that, for whatever reason, would not sell, so my boss phoned a coworker and told her to cut the price of the suits by 50 percent. Misunderstanding him, she doubled the price instead. By the time our boss returned from vacation, nearly all those suits had been sold! It made no sense to me…until I read Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence. From there, I not only sold plenty of suits, I earned a Ph.D. at the University of Southern California, and eventually was named a Distinguished Professor at Utah State University.


I wrote...

Persuasion: Social Influence and Compliance Gaining

By Robert H. Gass, John S. Seiter,

Book cover of Persuasion: Social Influence and Compliance Gaining

What is my book about?

The newest edition of this field-leading book provides a highly readable, often entertaining, yet astute, presentation of major approaches to persuasion. Using real-life examples, often involving the authors’ own persuasive mishaps, the book encourages readers to develop and apply conclusions about persuasion in real-world settings. Along the way, readers are also introduced to major theories of persuasion as they apply to the practice of social influence in an array of contexts (e.g., advertising, marketing, politics, interpersonal relationships, social media, groups) and across a variety of topics (e.g., credibility, personality, deception, motivational appeals, visual persuasion). Finally, the book not only emphasizes the goal of effective persuasion, but also the importance of being ethical in one’s attempts to influence others.

Above All Things

By Tanis Rideout,

Book cover of Above All Things

George Mallory’s disputed ascent of Everest hardly qualifies as “little known history,” but I couldn’t do a top 5 list on historical fiction and not include it. You can tell from the details that Ridout is obsessed with this story. Mallory’s efforts on the climb are perfectly juxtapositioned against his wife’s less glamourous but no less difficult task of holding the family together in his absence. The novel thrives as an exploration of the intense pressure that Mallory’s final Everest attempt placed on both.


Who am I?

I love the challenge of taking a headline, a photo, or a curious little footnote in someone else's history, and fleshing out all the details to make it a full-blown story. Here are five books where I think this task has been taken to entirely other levels.


I wrote...

One Night in Mississippi

By Craig Shreve,

Book cover of One Night in Mississippi

What is my book about?

After his brother is brutally murdered in civil rights era Mississippi, Warren Williams drifts across the country, estranged from his family. Decades later, when the US Dept of Justice begins re-opening similar cases, Warren finds purpose again. His search for closure leads him to a small northern Ontario town where he confronts the last remaining perpetrator who is still at large, as well as his own long-carried guilt.

Fallen Giants

By Maurice Isserman, Stewart Weaver,

Book cover of Fallen Giants: A History of Himalayan Mountaineering from the Age of Empire to the Age of Extremes

If you’re a Himalayan enthusiast, this book is a must. Heck, even if you’re not yet an enthusiast, you will be after you start reading Fallen Giants. Its sweep is magnificent, its story-telling superb. You’d think this book would get repetitive, so many mountains and so many climbs, but you’d be wrong.


Who am I?

I fell in love with the Himalayas in the 8th grade and vowed to go there one day. Eighteen years later I fell in love again, with a woman this time, who was living in Nepal. While living there I trekked extensively and read everything I could about the mountains, especially Everest. I thought it was odd that all the Everest books started in 1921, but the mountain was discovered in 1853. What took them so long? Hence my book The Hunt for Mount Everest.


I wrote...

The Hunt for Mount Everest

By Craig Storti,

Book cover of The Hunt for Mount Everest

What is my book about?

The height of Mount Everest was first measured in 1850, but it would be 71 years before any westerner got closer than 40 miles of the famous peak. The Hunt for Mount Everest tells the gripping back story of the quest to find the world’s highest mountain and claim the last great prize in the history of exploration, climaxing one June morning in 1921 when George Mallory and Guy Bullock became the first westerners—and almost certainly the first people—ever to set foot on the mountain. It is a story of high drama, two disastrous wars, larger-than-life characters, a few quiet heroes, hundreds of mules, thousands of camels, and two zebrules—all playing out against a backdrop of the most spectacular geography on earth.

Peak

By Roland Smith,

Book cover of Peak

Peak is a climbing addict in trouble with the law. But he gets to join his estranged father on an expedition to climb Mount Everest. The catch is that his dad just wants to use Peak as a promotion for his climbing company. Peak has to navigate complex relationships, all while trying not to die. I loved the adventure, but also the window into why so many risk it all to reach the top.


Who am I?

I’ve spent my life journey so far in the outdoors of northern Ontario, Canada. Before I became a conservation officer, I worked for twelve years in a wilderness park as a canoe ranger. I also had eighteen sled dogs and taught dogsledding and winter survival. I’ve always been drawn to reading adventure stories, so when I finally became an author (in my forties. It’s never too late), I naturally wrote the kind of books that I grew up reading. Now I love that I get to share my passions with readers.  I hope you find some books of interest on this list and join me on a journey into a new adventure.


I wrote...

Ice Dogs

By Terry Lynn Johnson,

Book cover of Ice Dogs

What is my book about?

Victoria Secord, a fourteen-year-old Alaskan dogsled racer, loses her way on a routine outing with her dogs. With food gone and temperatures dropping, her survival and that of her dogs and the mysterious boy she meets in the woods is entirely up to her.

The author Terry Lynn Johnson is a musher herself, and her crackling writing puts readers at the reins as Victoria and Chris experience setbacks, mistakes, and small triumphs in their wilderness adventure.

Edge of the Map

By Johanna Garton,

Book cover of Edge of the Map: The Mountain Life of Christine Boskoff

Garton dives deep into the investigation into Christine Boskoff's disappearance in the Himalayas. This book tells the beautiful story of Christine's career as a mountaineer, in the 90s when Everest was becoming as much of a status symbol as a feat of human perseverance. As a lover of Everest stories, I ate this one up – female-forward mountaineering stories are still few and far between.


Who am I?

I got interested in long-distance backpacking in my mid-twenties, looking for an escape from the messy life I had created for myself. I wanted to reinvent myself, and a blog about the Appalachian Trail suggested a perfect solution. After 650 miles on the trail and the death of my mother, I knew I would never be the same. In the years since, I have hiked the Wonderland Trail (as featured in Alone in Wonderland) and the Colorado Trail. Backpacking has become more than an escape – it has become home.


I wrote...

Alone in Wonderland

By Christine Reed,

Book cover of Alone in Wonderland

What is my book about?

Alone in Wonderland follows Christine Reed's journey thru-hiking the 93-mile Wonderland Trail loop around Mt Rainier. Among the alpine beauty of Washington state, Reed faces the physical challenges of hiking, the questions of fellow hikers on the trail, and the wildlife that calls the mountain home. More than an outdoor adventure story, this memoir dives into the search for independence and the ease with which we cross from seeking independence to finding ourselves feeling alone in the world. 

Everest

By Walt Unsworth,

Book cover of Everest: The Ultimate Book of the Ultimate Mountain

This is the Everest Bible. It has it all: every fact, every myth, every attempt, every failure, and the ultimate success. By rights, this book shouldn’t really work—so many attempts, so many near-misses, so many personality clashes, so many tragedies—but somehow it builds. The personalities are outsized, of course, the egos gigantic, and that helps, but the mountain is just too famous to ever be dull.


Who am I?

I fell in love with the Himalayas in the 8th grade and vowed to go there one day. Eighteen years later I fell in love again, with a woman this time, who was living in Nepal. While living there I trekked extensively and read everything I could about the mountains, especially Everest. I thought it was odd that all the Everest books started in 1921, but the mountain was discovered in 1853. What took them so long? Hence my book The Hunt for Mount Everest.


I wrote...

The Hunt for Mount Everest

By Craig Storti,

Book cover of The Hunt for Mount Everest

What is my book about?

The height of Mount Everest was first measured in 1850, but it would be 71 years before any westerner got closer than 40 miles of the famous peak. The Hunt for Mount Everest tells the gripping back story of the quest to find the world’s highest mountain and claim the last great prize in the history of exploration, climaxing one June morning in 1921 when George Mallory and Guy Bullock became the first westerners—and almost certainly the first people—ever to set foot on the mountain. It is a story of high drama, two disastrous wars, larger-than-life characters, a few quiet heroes, hundreds of mules, thousands of camels, and two zebrules—all playing out against a backdrop of the most spectacular geography on earth.

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.


Who am I?

I was an under-employed Scottish poet hillwalker when I met a Himalayan mountaineer in a pub. Due to alcohol and a misunderstanding about the metaphorical nature of Poetry, Mal Duff asked me to join an attempt to climb the legendary 24,000ft  Mustagh Tower in the Karakoram. By the time I admitted I had no climbing experience whatsoever and was scared of heights, it was too late. Those Scottish winters’ apprenticeships and following Himalayan expeditions re-shaped my writing life, outlook, and friendships. My books have been shortlisted three times for the Boardman-Tasker Award for outstanding mountaineering literature, for Summit Fever; Kingdoms of Experience (Everest the Unclimbed Ridge); Electric Brae.


I wrote...

Summit Fever

By Andrew Greig,

Book cover of Summit Fever

What is my book about?

Mountaineering books are written by people who have been climbing for years, working their way up from local crags to their country’s hills, to ice climbing, winter climbing, then the Alps, and finally the Himalaya. As the result of a beer-fuelled misunderstanding, Andrew Greig, a writer non-climber with a deep aversion to heights and danger, found himself training in ice climbing for one Scottish winter before being part of the small team attempting the Mustagh Tower, a legendary peak in Baltistan, sometimes known as ‘the Himalayan Matterhorn’. Summit Fever is a unique adventure story of a novice’s induction into a mindset and a way of living, of an outsider becoming an insider. It is written for any armchair climber who wonders What would it be like for me? Never out of print since its publication in 1985, it has become a quiet classic, an outlier and one-of-a-kind. Stories of fear and climbing through fear, of deep friendship and novel experiences.

The Moth and the Mountain

By Ed Caesar,

Book cover of The Moth and the Mountain: A True Story of Love, War, and Everest

This book is of the incredible-but-true genre. A man who knows neither how to fly nor how to climb buys a plane which he plans to fly to India, crash land on the lower slopes of Everest, and climb the rest of the way to the top—all for the (married) woman he loves. Does he make it? What a question! It’s the premise that matters.


Who am I?

I fell in love with the Himalayas in the 8th grade and vowed to go there one day. Eighteen years later I fell in love again, with a woman this time, who was living in Nepal. While living there I trekked extensively and read everything I could about the mountains, especially Everest. I thought it was odd that all the Everest books started in 1921, but the mountain was discovered in 1853. What took them so long? Hence my book The Hunt for Mount Everest.


I wrote...

The Hunt for Mount Everest

By Craig Storti,

Book cover of The Hunt for Mount Everest

What is my book about?

The height of Mount Everest was first measured in 1850, but it would be 71 years before any westerner got closer than 40 miles of the famous peak. The Hunt for Mount Everest tells the gripping back story of the quest to find the world’s highest mountain and claim the last great prize in the history of exploration, climaxing one June morning in 1921 when George Mallory and Guy Bullock became the first westerners—and almost certainly the first people—ever to set foot on the mountain. It is a story of high drama, two disastrous wars, larger-than-life characters, a few quiet heroes, hundreds of mules, thousands of camels, and two zebrules—all playing out against a backdrop of the most spectacular geography on earth.

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