Saturday, September 13, 2014


A mountain climber, Jon Krakauer began his career as a freelancer writing articles about the outdoors. He successfully turned to writing non-fiction books, focusing first on mountaineering and then on diverse topics that spoke to him. His books, which can be found on the shelves at the Monrovia Public Library, are compelling and unsettling. This is an author truly capable of making readers feel they are part of the story and the story is always one that twists and turns.

Into the Wild, found on both the print and DVD shelves, is about a well-to-do young man who gives up his worldly belongings to go and live in the wilds of Alaska. After his remains are found, Krakauer traces how the tragedy occurred and ponders the reckless motivations of the main character.

Krakauer’s break out book was Into Thin Air about the tragic death of 8 climbers on Mount Everest. He not only introduces readers to the incredibly difficult and ego-driven world of climbing, but he makes readers feel the fear, the danger and the icy cold of ascending the world’s highest point. Showing how weather, geography and human error lead to death and disaster, this edge-of-your-seat book will keep you reading well past bedtime.  

Eiger Dreams: Ventures Among Men and Mountains followed and is a collection of articles that shares the risks and exhilaration of climbing.

The author left his comfort zone to write two very different and disturbing books. Under the Banner of Heaven is about members of a fundamentalist sect who murder a family, claiming they were inspired by divine orders. Introducing us to an alien but real world, the book is scary and informative.  It not difficult to see why Krakauer was inspired to write the story of a pro-football player who abandoned fame and fortune to join the army in Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman. The author digs deep to find a complex main character who dies in Afghanistan under murky circumstances.

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