The Endurance

March 5, 2015 § 3 Comments

new-shackleton

I recently finished reading The Endurance.  I really need to stop whining about how cold our house is in the mornings.

A few years ago I started following a blogger who may have mentioned once or twice that Shackleton is her hero.  At the time I was like, pfft, explorer, whatever.  Then a few months ago my dad mentioned him and was like, no, seriously, that is a crazy story, it’s such a good book.  And I was looking for a book anyway.  So  I went online to check it out and ordered a used copy for one cent on Amazon Prime.

IMG_20150304_110731

…and this hardcopy behemoth was delivered.  But turns out it is actually great, because the photos in there are incredible.

IMG_20150304_111148

Basic synopsis: British explorer attempts to make the first land crossing of the Antarctic continent in 1914.  Not something I would have ever picked up on my own.

Legend has it that Shackleton placed this ad in the paper to find his crew:

“MEN WANTED: FOR HAZARDOUS JOURNEY. SMALL WAGES, BITTER COLD, LONG MONTHS OF COMPLETE DARKNESS, CONSTANT DANGER, SAFE RETURN DOUBTFUL. HONOUR AND RECOGNITION IN CASE OF SUCCESS.

– SIR ERNEST SHACKLETON”

Tim Ferris recently used this to advertise for a personal assistant (true story).  The book never mentioned it, and from what I’ve read elsewhere it sounds like there’s no proof that it ever existed. But it’s awesome to think that the crew was made up of people who would respond to that.

One of the remarkable things about this trip is that in addition to including a photographer, Frank Hurley, on the crew, Shackleton and a large number of the crew kept journals religiously.  Shackleton had struggled to scrape together the financing for the expedition and had sold exclusive story and film rights prior to his departure, so the trip was documented extensively.  When things were looking really, really bad, many continued to write.  Even when (SPOILER ALERT!) they had to abandon ship and had to leave behind everything except for emergency provisions, all of the journals and a sizable portion of Hurley’s negatives, as well as his basic photography equipment, were considered important enough to be saved.

IMG_20150304_111220

Pretty awesome.  A few other takeaways:

First:  You (or at least, I) would assume that there would only be room for one expedition of this magnitude, with this amount of risk, in a lifetime.  But for Shackleton, and many crew members, this was their second, or third, or FOURTH trip to the south pole.  From England. On a boat.  In the early 1900s.  Following the expedition, a number of them went to fight in the war, then came back and went on even MORE arctic explorations, then finally settled down and led regular lives as pub owners or fishermen.  What.

Lesson 1: there is time to accomplish a lot of big things in life.  Don’t let the magnitude of something stop you from trying.

Second: (again, SPOILER ALERT!)  The expedition never even set foot on the continent, and yet their story is held up as one of the greatest, most amazing adventure/survival stories of all time. In a letter to his wife Shackleton wrote, “I have done it.  Damn the Admiralty…not a life lost and we have been through Hell.”

Lesson 2: “Success” redefines itself over time.  You never know what it will look like.

Third:  Shackleton was a badass and that was why his crew survived.  Not because he performed superhuman feats of strength, but because through subtle, everyday actions he conveyed a fortitude and unwavering faith in the crew’s collective ability to succeed, no matter how horrifically bleak the situation.  Caroline Alexander wrote:

“(Shackleton) would be remembered not so much for his own accomplishment….as for what he was capable of drawing out of others.  …  The mystique that Shackleton acquired as a leader may partly be attributed to the fact that he elicited from his men strength and endurance they had never imagined they possessed; he ennobled them.”

Lesson 3:  How you act really does effect others.

And seriously, the pictures.

IMG_20150304_112248

Good read.  Great story.  Check it out.

Goodnight Noises Everywhere

October 27, 2014 § Leave a comment

I hadn’t read Goodnight Moon in about 20 years before this happened:

20140517_11401915th percentile body weight and height, 50th percentile head circumference

She loves books.  LOOOOOVES books.  So there’s been a good amount Goodnight Moon up in these parts for the past year or so.  And upon reading it again for the first time, I was surprised.

I was surprised by how completely random and creepy Goodnight Moon is.

The lines and pictures from this book reside in the same eerie, dream-like haze as early childhood memories.  There is a ghostly familiarity to them.  But when my grown-up mind saw the pictures with grown-up eyes and heard the words for the first time in many, many years, my initial thought was, “HOW is this book so popular??”

There is no story.  The rhymes aren’t super fun or clever.  And take, for instance, the mush.  We wish it goodnight, as it sits, cold and colorless, next to a blank page that says “Goodnight Nobody.”

1360630885_GoodnightMush

So…bleak.

There is the picture on the wall across from the three bears sitting in chairs of a big rabbit fishing for a little rabbit with a carrot on a string.  What.

And then, of course, the quiet old lady whispering “hush”:

MWB_ecard_promo

Nightmare material like woah.  Case in point:

donnie-darko-61830

Tell me there’s no resemblance.

And yet, despite the objective weirdness, Goodnight Moon is soothing.  And warm.  And because it lacks the typical structure and singsongy-ness, as you read it the second (or third, or fourth) time, it doesn’t grate.  It is simple and familiar and calming.  And the glowing light of the stars and the dollhouse windows on the last page…I love the last page.

So, like every other parent and grandparent, we’ll keep a few copies around, reading it over and over and over again, burying the same strange story with the same strange pictures deep into someone else’s childhood memory, to be rediscovered later.

photo

Books

March 6, 2014 § 3 Comments

books

Looking at pictures of shelves of books on Pintrest is like crack.  I know….where does the excitement end.

Books are potentially good that I started this year and have not been able to get through:

  • Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling.  I had been looking to read this book since it came out like 2 years ago. One afternoon, after a rough week at work, I was in Target for a baby something and decided to splurge and bought it.  SUPER. EXCITED.  Got about 150 pages in and found myself forgetting to pick it up when I had a free minute, and not remembering what was going on when I started reading again (the biggest signs that I am just not into it).  It is dark.  The characters are depressing.  You know it isn’t going anywhere good.  Maybe it was just the wrong time for me to read it?  But I put it down and picked up…
  • Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan.   Great name (the book).   A few tech blogs I read had said it was a really fast, fun read.  I was very excited.  And I liked it, for the first part.  But about 2/3 of the way through it started to drag.  Plus the way they talked about certain parts of the tech community in Silicon Valley kind of bugged.  So I quit and moved onto….
  • The Sting Man by Robert Green.  Story of Abscam (Americna Hustle).  Organized crime, corrupt politicians, scandal, intrigue…totally up my alley.  But the writing style for some reason didn’t work for me.  So many names.  Had serious trouble engaging.  Could not get into it.

Time to bring in the pinch hitter…

  • The Goldfinch.  Since everyone and their mother was talking about it.  Finished it 3 weeks ago.  Winner!

Books I have been reading on and off that I like:

  • My Best Race.  A series of short stores by 50 runners talking about what their greatest race was (and in many cases, it’s not the biggest race or the one that brought them the highest accolades.)  I like it.

Books sitting on the sidelines that I plan to read next:

…and there, my friends, is a book update.

Where oh where has October gone…

October 24, 2011 § Leave a comment


{Celebrated a wedding with old friends in Colorado}

David and Mom, 1966

{and the life of an old friend in Seal Beach}

 

{…some trail running in Barea…}

{…and Kentucky football games at Commonwealth Sadium…}

{…a little pumpkin baked deliciousness at home (recipe here)…}

{…and domestic adventures in canning…}

{…seasonal reading (yes, this book is from the “required high school reading” section of the library and is labeled “teen” on the cover)…}


{…and, of course, fall sunsets.}

Time’s a Goon

August 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

I LOVE SUMMER SO MUCH.  Even when I get tangled up in the pool vacuum hose.  (and no, I don’t know where my bellybutton went in that picture…maybe the whiteness ate it.)

It doesn’t hurt that Paul’s sister’s boyfriend’s mother (did you get that?) has a house with a pool around the corner from where we live.  And she lets us use it pretty much whenever we want.  She even brings us lemonade and pretzels while we float around in the sun, which reminds me of summers in high school when we lived at Emily’s pool and her mom would bring us popcorn.  And now that I’m not doing 3 hour bike rides every weekend, this is what I do instead: lie on my floatie reading my book, drinking lemonade, getting sunburned, and dreading the end of August.  It’s amazing.

Anyway, the book I’m reading above is A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, and I thought it was pretty phenomenal.  Different format than most novels, almost a series of short stories, very fragmented and unconventional in both the narrative and the actual visual presentation.  Really good.  Recommend.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

August 11, 2011 § 9 Comments

I started this book on Sunday and finished it last night.  I know it’s a young adult novel geared towards the Twihard generation, but I was actually pretty surprised about that after I learned the premise.  Thought it was a little dark for that demographic.

But if you’re looking for something to fly through that you won’t be able to put down, read this immediately.  It’s good.

What I talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

July 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

Somerset Maugham once wrote that in each shave lies a philosophy. I couldn’t agree more. No matter how mundane some action might appear, keep at it long enough and it becomes a contemplative, even meditative act.

I LOVED Kafka on the Shore, so was pretty excited when I found out Murakami had written a book about running.

Honestly, I had a little trouble getting into it…and it never really picked up speed (pun intended).   He hit a few points that rang true (like the above), but overall kind of disappointing.  Bummer.  But it was short, so no harm done.   I’ll go back for more Murakami…but maybe no more autobiographical accounts.

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing entries tagged with Books at Rambulatory Ambulatory.