The August 25th meeting will be dedicated to books that have been adapted into film, fiction and nonfiction alike. Your choice :-)
Buckle up and hold on to your hats! Real life adventure was up for discussion last night and the books ranged far and wide; from Africa to Spain to Utah to the furthest reaches of the solar system.
Green Hills of Africa by Ernest Hemingway
(powells.com) His second major venture into nonfiction (after Death in the Afternoon in 1932), Green Hills of Africa is Ernest Hemingway's lyrical journal of a month on safari in the great game country of East Africa, where he and his wife Pauline journeyed in December of 1933. Hemingway's well-known interest in — and fascination with — big-game hunting is magnificently captured in this evocative account of his trip. In examining the poetic grace of the chase, and the ferocity of the kill, Hemingway also looks inward, seeking to explain the lure of the hunt and the primal undercurrent that comes alive on the plains of Africa. Yet Green Hills of Africa is also an impassioned portrait of the glory of the African landscape, and of the beauty of a wilderness that was, even then, being threatened by the incursions of man. Hemingway's rich description of the beauty and strangeness of the land and his passion for the sport of hunting combine to give Green Hills of Africa the freshness and immediacy of a deeply felt personal experience that is the hallmark of the greatest travel writing.
Only Pack What You Can Carry: My Path to Inner Strength,Confidence, and True Self-Knowledge by Janice Holly Booth
(powells.com) Magnetically written by former CEO of a North Carolina Girl Scout Council and award winning CEO for the Western New York chapter of a national arts-in-education organization, this uniquely engaging travel journal describes four keys to unlocking personal and spiritual fulfillment: solitude, introspection, courage, and commitment. Through a series of compelling travel essays and deeply thoughtful memoirs, Janice Booth draws readers into each adventure—ranging from a solo hike through Northern California to galloping across the fields of Ireland to a short stint with the Circus Arts learning the flying trapeze—and shares her secrets to a fuller life through traveling alone. Step by step, she demonstrates why leaving everything—and everyone—behind for a few days (or more!) is the best path to inner strength, confidence, and true self-knowledge.
(powells.com) For centuries, mariners have spun tales of gargantuan waves, 100-feet high or taller. Until recently scientists dismissed these stories—waves that high would seem to violate the laws of physics. But in the past few decades, as a startling number of ships vanished and new evidence has emerged, oceanographers realized something scary was brewing in the planet’s waters. They found their proof in February 2000, when a British research vessel was trapped in a vortex of impossibly mammoth waves in the North Sea—including several that approached 100 feet.
As scientists scramble to understand this phenomenon, others view the giant waves as the ultimate challenge. These are extreme surfers who fly around the world trying to ride the ocean’s most destructive monsters. The pioneer of extreme surfing is the legendary Laird Hamilton, who, with a group of friends in Hawaii, figured out how to board suicidally large waves of 70 and 80 feet. Casey follows this unique tribe of people as they seek to conquer the holy grail of their sport, a 100-foot wave.
In this mesmerizing account, the exploits of Hamilton and his fellow surfers are juxtaposed against scientists’ urgent efforts to understand the destructive powers of waves—from the tsunami that wiped out 250,000 people in the Pacific in 2004 to the 1,740-foot-wave that recently leveled part of the Alaskan coast. Like Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air, The Wave brilliantly portrays human beings confronting nature at its most ferocious.
Disaster at the Pole: The Tragedy of the Airship Italia, a Harrowing True Tale of Arctic Endurance and Survival by Wilbur Cross
(powells.com) In 1928, defying Italy's Mussolini and the entire fascist party, aviator Umberto Nobile, undertook a daring expedition to the North Pole in Italia, one of several successful airships he had designed. The tragic crash of the airship on the ice and search for survivors was the most extensive in Arctic history, involving seven nations. Although Nobile and eight crew members survived, those lost included not only their tragic companions but searchers, including the famous explorer, Roald Amundsen. The Italia tragedy was described by The New York Times as one of the most astonishing episodes in the history of aviation.
(powells.com) The Voyager spacecraft are our farthest-flung emissaries; 11.3 billion miles away from the crew who built and still operate them, decades since their launch.
Voyager 1 left the solar system in 2012; its sister craft, Voyager 2, will do so in 2015. The fantastic journey began in 1977, before the first episode of Cosmos aired. The mission was planned as a grand tour beyond the moon; beyond Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn; and maybe even into interstellar space. The fact that it actually happened makes this humanity’s greatest space mission.
In The Interstellar Age, award-winning planetary scientist Jim Bell reveals what drove and continues to drive the members of this extraordinary team, including Ed Stone, Voyager’s chief scientist and the one-time head of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab; Charley Kohlhase, an orbital dynamics engineer who helped to design many of the critical slingshot maneuvers around planets that enabled the Voyagers to travel so far; and the geologist whose Earth-bound experience would prove of little help in interpreting the strange new landscapes revealed in the Voyagers’ astoundingly clear images of moons and planets.
Speeding through space at a mind-bending eleven miles a second, Voyager 1 is now beyond our solar system's planets. It carries with it artifacts of human civilization. By the time Voyager passes its first star in about 40,000 years, the gold record on the spacecraft, containing various music and images, including Chuck Berry’s Johnny B. Goode, will still be playable.
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
(powells.com) In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter. How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild.
Immediately after graduating from college in 1991, McCandless had roamed through the West and Southwest on a vision quest like those made by his heroes Jack London and John Muir. In the Mojave Desert he abandoned his car, stripped it of its license plates, and burned all of his cash. He would give himself a new name, Alexander Supertramp, and, unencumbered by money and belongings, he would be free to wallow in the raw, unfiltered experiences that nature presented. Craving a blank spot on the map, McCandless simply threw the maps away. Leaving behind his desperate parents and sister, he vanished into the wild.
Jon Krakauer constructs a clarifying prism through which he reassembles the disquieting facts of McCandless's short life. Admitting an interest that borders on obsession, he searches for the clues to the drives and desires that propelled McCandless. Digging deeply, he takes an inherently compelling mystery and unravels the larger riddles it holds: the profound pull of the American wilderness on our imagination; the allure of high-risk activities to young men of a certain cast of mind; the complex, charged bond between fathers and sons.
When McCandless's innocent mistakes turn out to be irreversible and fatal, he becomes the stuff of tabloid headlines and is dismissed for his naiveté, pretensions, and hubris. He is said to have had a death wish but wanting to die is a very different thing from being compelled to look over the edge. Krakauer brings McCandless's uncompromising pilgrimage out of the shadows, and the peril, adversity, and renunciation sought by this enigmatic young man are illuminated with a rare understanding--and not an ounce of sentimentality. Mesmerizing, heartbreaking, Into the Wild is a tour de force. The power and luminosity of Jon Krakauer's storytelling blaze through every page.
The Wild Truth by Carine McCandless
(powells.com) In the more than twenty years since the body of Chris McCandless was discovered in the wilds of Alaska, his spellbinding story has captivated millions who have either read Jon Krakauer's iconic Into the Wild or seen Sean Penn's acclaimed film of the same name.
And yet, only one person has truly understood what motivated Chris's unconventional decision to forsake his belongings, abandon his family, and embrace the harsh wilderness. In The Wild Truth, his beloved sister Carine McCandless finally provides a deeply personal account of the many misconceptions about Chris, revealing the truth behind his fateful journey while sharing the remarkable details of her own.
Exposing the dark reality that existed behind the McCandless's seemingly idyllic home in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., Carine details a violent home life, one where both parents manipulated the truth about a second family — a deception that pushed Chris over the edge and set the stage for his willing departure into the wild. And though he cut off all family ties, Carine understood — through their indelible bond and some cryptic communication — what Chris was seeking.
This understanding, kept under wraps for years as Carine struggled to maintain a relationship with her parents, now comes to spectacular light in the pages of The Wild Truth. In the decades since Chris's death, Carine and her half-siblings have come together to find their own truth and build their own beauty in his absence. In each other, they've found absolution, just as Chris found absolution in the wild before he died.
Beautiful and haunting, told with candor and heartbreaking insight, The Wild Truth presents a man the world only thought they knew — and the sister who has finally found redemption in sharing the rest of their story.
The Camino: A Journey of the Spirit by Shirley MacLaine
(powells.com) It has been nearly three decades since Shirley MacLaine commenced her brave and public commitment to chronicling her personal quest for spiritual understanding. In testament to the endurance and vitality of her message, each of her eight legendary bestsellers — from Don't Fall Off the Mountain to My Lucky Stars — continues today to attract, dazzle, and transform countless new readers. Now Shirley is back — with her most breathtakingly powerful and unique book yet.
This is the story of a journey. It is the eagerly anticipated and altogether startling culmination of Shirley MacLaine's extraordinary — and ultimately rewarding — road through life. The riveting odyssey began with a pair of anonymous handwritten letters imploring Shirley to make a difficult pilgrimage along the Santiago de Compostela Camino in Spain. Throughout history, countless illustrious pilgrims from all over Europe have taken up the trail. It is an ancient — and allegedly enchanted — pilgrimage. People from St. Francis of Assisi and Charlemagne to Ferdinand and Isabella to Dante and Chaucer have taken the journey, which comprises a nearly 500-mile trek across highways, mountains and valleys, cities and towns, and fields. Now it would be Shirley's turn.
For Shirley, the Camino was both an intense spiritual and physical challenge. A woman in her sixth decade completing such a grueling trip on foot in thirty days at twenty miles per day was nothing short of remarkable. But even more astounding was the route she took spiritually: back thousands of years, through past lives to the very origin of the universe. Immensely gifted with intelligence, curiosity, warmth, and a profound openness to people and places outside her own experience, Shirley MacLaine is truly an American treasure. And once again, she brings her inimitable qualities of mind and heart to her writing.
Balancing and negotiating the revelations inspired by the mysterious energy of the Camino, she endured her exhausting journey to Compostela until it gradually gave way to a far more universal voyage: that of the soul. Through a range of astonishing and liberating visions and revelations, Shirley saw into the meaning of the cosmos, including the secrets of the ancient civilizations of Atlantis and Lemuria, insights into human genesis, the essence of gender and sexuality, and the true path to higher love. With rich insight, humility, and her trademark grace, Shirley MacLaine gently leads us on a sacred adventure toward an inexpressibly transcendent climax. The Camino promises readers the journey of a thousand lifetimes.
Take a Seat (DVD) "Take a Seat: Sharing A Ride Across America" is an inspirational documentary focused on the adventurous human spirit. The film follows British adventurer Dominic Gill as he journeys across America on a tandem bicycle with the help of ten companions, all of whom are physically disabled. Gill brings viewers into the lives of his travelers and provides an expose on the every day struggles they face while they deal with disabilities like muscular dystrophy, blindness, and Parkinson's disease. Gill shows that fervor, determination and hope can transcend physical ailments and that spirits propelled by passion can ascend any apex imaginable.
View the full documentary film here: http://www.imdb.com/video/wab/vi3356335129/
The Long Way Round: Chasing Shadows Across the World by Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman
(powells.com) It started as a daydream. Poring over a map of the world at home one quiet Saturday afternoon, Ewan McGregor — actor and self-confessed bike nut — noticed that it was possible to ride all the way round the world, with just one short hop across the Bering Strait from Russia to Alaska. It was a revelation he couldn't get out of his head. So he picked up the phone and called Charley Boorman, his best friend, fellow actor and bike enthusiast. 'Charley,' he said. 'I think you ought to come over for dinner...'
From London to New York, Ewan and Charley chased their shadows through Europe, the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Russia, across the Pacific to Alaska, then down through Canada and America. As the miles slipped beneath the tires of their big BMWs, their troubles started. Exhaustion, injury and accidents tested their strength. Treacherous roads, unpredictable weather and turbulent politics challenged their stamina. They were chased by paparazzi in Kazakhstan, courted by men with very large guns in the Ukraine, hassled by the police, and given bulls' testicles for supper by Mongolian nomads.
And yet despite all these obstacles they managed to ride over 20,000 miles in four months, changing their lives forever in the process. As they travelled they documented their trip, taking photographs, and writing diaries by the campfire. Long Way Round is the result of their adventures — a fascinating, frank and highly entertaining travel book about two friends riding round the world together and, against all the odds, realizing their dream.
The Long Way Round (DVD) Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman prepare to hit the road on their motorcycles in an epic journey around the world.
View the first episode here: http://www.imdb.com/video/hulu/vi832612121