Monday, October 27, 2014

Audiobook: Into Thin Air

Krakauer, Jon. 1997. INTO THIN AIR: A PERSONAL ACCOUNT OF THE MOUNT EVEREST DISASTER. Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio Publishing.

So, I wondered to myself if audiobooks should count toward my total book count for the school year and whether I should write reviews for them. And then I thought, "This is MY blog! I can write what I want!" So I'll write a short review, but I, personally, am not going to count it toward my total number of books read.

In the past, I've generally not been a fan of audiobooks. I am a visual and tactile learner; I remember things best when I see them or when I write them down. I've tried audiobooks before and either had trouble with my iPod losing my place, or I just lost interest.  Anyway, my husband and daughter and I moved a few weeks ago, and I found myself with a longer commute to and from school. So I thought I'd give audiobooks another shot.

I joined Audible, which is now part of the Amazon empire. There are some audiobooks available on OverDrive, but I'm impatient to wait for my hold request to come in.

For my first choice, I chose this nonfiction book that came HIGHLY recommended from my best friend. Into Thin Air is the author's personal account of climbing Mount Everest and the ensuing disaster on his expedition in May of 1996.

With any nonfiction book that tells about a real life disaster from the point of view of a survivor, I always feel like the ending is given away a little bit. I didn't have to worry about the author, Jon Krakauer, because I knew he survived the ordeal to write the book! Still, when a nonfiction book can be as suspenseful as this one, you know the story and writing are top-notch.

Krakauer relates the history of climbing Mount Everest, which wasn't even discovered to be the highest peak in the world until 1856. Various expeditions tried conquering the summit, but it wasn't until May 29, 1953 that Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first to climb the mountain. Since then, various expeditions have tried to summit the peak; some were successful while some were dangerous.

Mr. Krakauer finds himself going to Nepal to be a part of an expedition led by guide Rob Hall and his company Adventure Consultants. He is on assignment for the magazine Outside to write a chronicle of his trip. It was so interesting to hear about all the preparations that must be made for such an expedition. Before the team even reached base camp on the mountain they had already gone through quite an ordeal of traveling!

The author describes various personalities of his guides and co-climbers on the expedition. This aspect of the book made me long for a print version, because just hearing the names and not reading them made it really hard for me to keep track of who all of the players were. However, I kept listening and in the end, I still understood the story, even if I would have remembered more if I'd read the book instead of listened to it.

A chain of events leads to too many climbers trying to reach the summit on the day that Rob Hall chose for his team. In addition, clear weather quickly turns into a raging storm as the climbers are trying to descend the mountain, which leads to disastrous consequences.

I was riveted by this true story. As Mr. Krakauer explains, Everest is the lofty goal of most mountain climbers, but can also be their untimely end. I enjoyed listening to this on my way to and from school each day, even if sometimes I had to stop frequently to answer the constant questions of my 4 year old daughter. :)

Keep listening,
Mrs. Cox

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