Friday, October 7, 2011

Summer Reading List

One benefit to my crazy August of travel; was the chance to catch up on my reading while flying or sitting in an airport. Here is a quick summary of the books I read.

It’s Not About The Bike
By Lance Armstrong

Honestly, I started reading this book with mixed feelings. You can’t help but have high expectations for a book like this. Seven-time Tour De France winner, cancer survivor and founder of an impressive cancer foundation lead to high expectations. But, Lance’s honesty and character have also been severely called into question over the years in the cycling communities endless doping scandal and I have read a bunch of those articles as well.

The book is well written and a compelling read – I had a hard time putting it down. His cancer was tough and aggressive, and now knowing the details of his cancer journey, I admire him more for surviving. Having read the book though, I like him less as a person and a professional athlete. He came across as tough, mean, and extremely competitive. I often found myself feeling sorry for his wife, although knowing the ultimate outcome of their marriage may not have helped. I was already on her side. Bottom line, it is worth reading, but I am glad I borrowed a copy!

Ice Bound
By Dr. Jerri Nielsen

This is another book that I borrowed while at my sister Katie’s house. Dr. Nielsen is the doctor who diagnosed and treated her own breast cancer while at the South Pole.

Again, this is a very good book and interesting to learn about the South Pole and the entire community down there and the work being done. It boggles my mind that people signed up to go there and live there, knowing that once the station closed for the winter they would not be able to leave for nine months. I could not do that, yet they thrived in that situation.

One interesting side note about this book is that Dr. Nielsen chose to consult (via video) with an oncologist at the University of Indiana about her chemo treatments. They were connected during each treatment, and Dr. Nielsen had the same chemo nurse as Lance Armstrong. After she was rescued from the ice, she went there to finish treatments.

The sad ending to this book (although only if you run a Google search after reading) is that although Dr. Nielsen beat the cancer and the book ended on a positive enough note, her cancer eventually returned and she passed away in 2009.

Into Thin Air
By Jon Krauker

This book is about the disastrous 1996 climbing season on Mount Everest. I had read another book a few years ago about climbing Everest in 1996 that touched on the disasters. Touching My Father’s Soul was a great read and totally engrossed me. It went into a lot of detail about the deaths on Everest that year, but none of the people that died were in the Expedition of the author.

Jon Krauker was in the expedition that lost the most people on Everest that year, five people from his group died. I really enjoyed his book Into the Wild and the article about climbing Everest he wrote for Outside magazine (the article grew into the book).

Reading the book was very hard though. First, you cannot help but be heartsick for the people who died on the mountain, and in some cases, the stupid decisions that led to these deaths. Having struggled through a seven mile run at 9,000 feet, I cannot begin to comprehend how hard it is to make smart decisions at 29,000 feet, but the amount of tragedy in this book still hit me really hard.

I put the book down several times, switching to lighter reads and then would go back to it. Similar to reading Lance Armstrong’s book, I now like Jon Krauker less as a person, having read this book. Bottom line, this is worth reading, but if you are only going to read one book about the 1996 climbing season, read Touching My Father’s Soul by Jamling Tenzing Norgay.

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