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Subject: Books for Backpacking [TLDR + POLL] rss

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Chris Tannhauser
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As I prepare to step off again into The Ineffable I find that staring into this image of a previous trek causes the insistence of work-for-money to curl into itself, becoming tinny and distant, washed out by the understated tones of wind bifurcated over stone peaks. There is so much that work wants that work is just not going to get...


Fig.1 — For full effect click to enlarge image, then grab the heaviest thing you can find, put a plastic bag over your head and climb up and down off the roof like a thousand times.

When I do manage to slap myself away from the image I'm overwhelmed by the problem of choosing a book for the trip. You have to bring one—you don't want to be the boob who doesn't have a book when everyone else is feeding their minds and you're left alone to stare at glorious nature-forms—again—pretending that it's all you need. So, you will have a book. The problem is one of size and scope; you want it to be as small as possible (read: light) but still be long enough to last the entire trip. Humping a finished book over three more passes is a kind of Puritan self-flagellation. But if it's too long, then the magnitude of wasted effort is equally shameful. Ideally, you'd snap it shut, done, just as you were ready for lights-out on the last night. Then there's the problem of scope—you don't want to be reading a technical manual, or something about the more wretched aspects of civilization, just as you don't necessarily want something too nature-focused—it's a bit much to settle down to after suffering in it all day. It turns out something like a 197-page Millennial Edition of Lord of Rings would be just the thing.

Last time out I had two books to choose from at the trailhead: a big, fat Norse mythology tome and The Great Gatsby, grabbed because it was comparatively tiny and I hadn't ever actually read it. Laid side-by-side on the campsite table everyone agreed it should be Gatsby, for obvious reasons. But that night before stepping off I made the mistake of cracking the mythology book and reading the extensive introduction—it talked about how these once-religious texts highlighted Viking thought and culture, how every setback and vicissitude, every seemingly insurmountable challenge was seen as a direct test of the gods laid in your path just for you. Vikings could double-dog-dare each other into doing the most ridiculous things, and it would just make them laugh and laugh. River too swollen to cross? The hell you say! And another one dives in, perhaps to drown, perhaps to bellow at your cowardice from the other side.

I related the story with obvious excitement over breakfast, and the wisest of the acres there pointed out that now I must carry the big book over the mountains, as that is what any Viking would not hesitate to do. And godsdammit, they were right. So I did, and it rained for three days straight and we were never completely dry the rest of the week, and all the while that ridiculous weight on my back filled my heart with a kind of dark glee—you, you brought a comic book, like a child; you, a mystery paperback torn in half; and you, a tiny philosophical treatise about laying down while the world rolls over you... while I carried the deeds of the gods, from cosmic cow ice-licking to the burning blood of Ragnarok! Those others were, in the end, shamed as the soft, pink men there were shown to be. As we progressed and my pace became more determined, even mirthful, there were many offers and bribes of hidden Pop-Tarts® to let them carry it, if only for a day, over one pass, you know, just to see how it feels. I merely bellowed at their cowardice from the other side.

And so we loop back around to the current problem: which book now? I pulled an as-yet unread work by John Muir off the shelf, and noticed that it was incongruously near Alive, the book about plane crash cannibals, perhaps a little too on the nose. I also have one about the Donner Party, but it's kinda heavy.

Poll: Books for Backpacking
What do you think?
Put some goddamn muffins in yer sweater, go full Muir
Half a shitty sci-fi paperback
Alive AND the Donner Party book—it's better to be feared than loved
SASQUATCH
Hardcover War and Peace, you soft, pink man
None—steal someone else's book every night, hide it in their pack every morning
Reading is hard—I saw a wall of text and just kinda laid down
      61 answers
Poll created by HiveGod
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Andy Leighton
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Hmm - you have heard about these things called ebook readers haven't you? Small, light, and fairly robust. Battery will last long enough for all but the longest walks (and even then you can buy a solar panel recharger).
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Chris Tannhauser
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Bah! Those are for zap-heads and media socialites—I want a brick of plant matter meticulously imprinted with permanent text AS THOR INTENDED. An e-reader is the sort of thing a skræling would beg to carry.
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John Middleton
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not to mention what happens to your ereader when you slip and fall...

Last trip I took, was toting a pocket copy of some collected works in old english. Kind like your Norse example above, that stuff really puts me in the wilderness mood.
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CHAPEL
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I'm thinking something by Hemingway. Paperback. And some boxing gloves.
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Richard Hedke
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HiveGod wrote:
An e-reader is the sort of thing a skræling would beg to carry.


Goddamn right!
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¡dn ʇǝƃ ʇ,uɐɔ ı puɐ uǝllɐɟ ǝʌ,ı
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That was the toughest poll I've ever participated in.
You're a real bastard, not allowing us to choose multiple answers.
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Walt
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Personally, I'd carry one of those nature books [something] of the [where you're hiking], like Geology of the Sierra Nevada. (I just made that title up, but it's a real book.)
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Peter Folke
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How could you miss one of the most important criteria for that kind of book?

You know, when you are sitting there, enjoying the view. You are done. You rip out a page of your book. Not enough. You rip out another. And then.. you have to read a few pages more, because you hadn't anticipated THAT much chili in the meal last night. By the time you are truly done, you need to use the shovel to help you get up, because you had to read so much in order to, you know. Keep some standards.

Oh. I guess that's option 2. Nevermind.
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Ben Vincent
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John Breckenridge
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Bring a blank book and a pen and compose your own Edda.
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Andy Andersen
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You lost me at bifurcated
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Chris Tannhauser
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Dammit—I knew I shoulda gone with dilacerated.
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Philip Homatidis
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Quote:
Alive AND the Donner Party book—it's better to be feared than loved


What? Not 'To Serve Man'?

It falls under shitty science fiction
Spoiler (click to reveal)
'The Day the Earth Stood Still' by Harry Bates

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Jeff Jones
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HiveGod wrote:
Bah! Those are for zap-heads and media socialites—I want a brick of plant matter meticulously imprinted with permanent text AS THOR INTENDED. An e-reader is the sort of thing a skræling would beg to carry.


Why are you saying this on this platform? Shouldn't you be sending us all real, dead tree mail through the US Postal service?
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Neon Joe, Werewolf He-yump
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If you find Alive and the Donner Party a bit too prosaic, and you want to make the entire party question why they left the comforts of home to die on a godforsaken hunk of rock, might I suggest a spot of light reading on the Dyatlov Pass Incident?

http://www.amazon.com/Mountain-Dead-Dyatlov-Pass-Incident/dp...

http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Mountain-Untold-Dyatlov-Incident/...

Quote:
Following the search party's retrievals of the bodies, the questions deepen when the victims are discovered, insufficiently dressed for the frigid weather, shoeless, with violent injuries,

[spoilered on account of the injuries' gruesome nature]

Spoiler (click to reveal)
including a horrible skull fracture, a leg torn away, and a tongue ripped out.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dyatlov_Pass_incident
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Jim Patching
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Best book I've read in ages is The Martian by Andy Weir.
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Mystery McMysteryface
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A great big Sci-Fi book
The Margarets by Sherri S. Tepper
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Chris Tannhauser
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toku42 wrote:
If you find Alive and the Donner Party a bit too prosaic, and you want to make the entire party question why they left the comforts of home to die on a godforsaken hunk of rock, might I suggest a spot of light reading on the Dyatlov Pass Incident?

See, as horrific and confusing as the scene of the incident was, Occam's razor neatly clears things up, rendering the inexplicable prosaic itself:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
IT WAS TOTALLY YETIS
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John Middleton
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HiveGod wrote:
See, as horrific and confusing as the scene of the incident was, Occam's razor neatly clears things up, rendering the inexplicable prosaic itself:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
IT WAS TOTALLY YETIS

What do you expect when you
Spoiler (click to reveal)
try to shave a yeti?
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Joe Gola
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I'm imagining some ancient, spotted paperback — something both deeply weird and entirely disposable — that you can fling, page by page, into the fire as you read it. I'm picturing some 1970s fantasy book with a cover both lovingly detailed and deeply misguided — wait, wasn't there one of you, nude, riding a dolphin? That's the one.

Either that or The Worm Ouroboros.
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HiveGod wrote:
toku42 wrote:
If you find Alive and the Donner Party a bit too prosaic, and you want to make the entire party question why they left the comforts of home to die on a godforsaken hunk of rock, might I suggest a spot of light reading on the Dyatlov Pass Incident?

See, as horrific and confusing as the scene of the incident was, Occam's razor neatly clears things up, rendering the inexplicable prosaic itself:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
IT WAS TOTALLY YETIS


How about Escape from Kathmandu by Kim Stanley Robinson? Small book, entertaining yarn, + YETI.
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午餐先生
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HiveGod wrote:
Bah! Those are for zap-heads and media socialites—I want a brick of plant matter meticulously imprinted with permanent text AS THOR INTENDED. An e-reader is the sort of thing a skræling would beg to carry.


Yet again HiveGod proves his manliness, showing off two pages of his chosen backpacking book.



DO YOU EVEN BACKPACK, BRO?
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Walt
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mister lunch wrote:
Yet again HiveGod proves his manliness, showing off two pages of his chosen backpacking book.

There were three pages, but he dropped one....
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The Honorable Mayor McCheese
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Might I suggest all thirteen volumes of The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
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