Book Club Pick: Into Thin Air

1898Title: Into Thin Air
Author: Jon Krakauer
Genre: Nonfiction Adventure
Publisher: Villard Books
Publication Date: May 1, 1997
Pages: 368
Format Read: Paperback book
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Unknown
Date finished reading: May 11, 2020

Goodreads Description: A bank of clouds was assembling on the not-so-distant horizon, but journalist-mountaineer Jon Krakauer, standing on the summit of Mt. Everest, saw nothing that “suggested that a murderous storm was bearing down.” He was wrong. The storm, which claimed five lives and left countless more–including Krakauer’s–in guilt-ridden disarray, would also provide the impetus for Into Thin Air, Krakauer’s epic account of the May 1996 disaster.

My Review: When my book club voted for this book, I was thrilled to read an adventure story about Everest, especially since travel is so limited in the world right now. I had been wanting to read Jon Krakauer for a while. What better place to start than by reading about the highest point in the world from the comfort of my couch.

This story started off as an article in Outsider magazine. However, after some harsh criticism, Jon Krakauer decided to dive further into his and others’ experiences on Everest during that tragic May expedition in 1996. His interviews led to the realization that some of his memories from his time on and near the Everest summit had been inaccruate – most likely from the lack of oxygen.

Whatever the reason for writing this book, whether it be survivor’s guilt or trying to make sense of this event that costs the lives of his fellow hikers, Jon Krakauer wrote one hell of a great story. This book included a historical introduction to Everest and expeditions on Everest. The descriptions of Everest and mountaineering on Everest made you feel like you were right there with the hikers. An expedition on Everest is so much more involved that I could have ever imagined. A hiker spends days/weeks on this expedition. Much of that time is spent acclimating to the high elevation, and then the hiker gets one shot at reaching the summit, as one should not spend an extended time at that elevation.

By the time the final summit hike for Krakauer and the hikers came, I was very invested in them and their trek. That made this story even more heartbreaking. It was thrilling and terrifying. There were twists and turns and lot of moments that surprised me. The book club found lots to discuss.

Of course, we had to discuss mountaineering first and one’s motivation to climb Everest. Then we discussed the sherpas that risk their lives to pave the path for the hikers and assist them on their journey for very little money. I think Jon Krakauer tried to bring to light the mistreatment of sherpas.

Finally we discussed the actual tragic events that took place on May 10th and the following days in 1996. We debated on whether this was a natural disaster or a man-made disaster. We discussed the decisions made by everyone during the summit trek, when the storm hit, and the days afterwards.

Not only did every member of the book club read this book, but for days we have been sending each other links related to Everest. We have not run out of things to talk about when it comes to this expedition and Everest. It is surprising, based on this excitement, that everyone rated this the highest rating of all our previous reads. I personally am looking forward to reading more by Jon Krakauer.

The book club unanimously loves Beck Weathers! ♥♥♥

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 

Book Club Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦