On my nightstand


It's been awhile since I've had the luxury of reading a few books for pleasure (and it took me forever to get through my last stack, thanks to Steve Jobs' book. Glad I finished it, but it definitely changed my opinion of him, and not for the better). I'm happily making my way through a new stack.

1. Doctor on Everest by Kenneth Kamler, M.D. I bought this book for Ryan, but I'm reading it first. This book is another account of the tragic Everest expedition from 1996 (I've also read Into Thin Air and Climb) but from the perspective of someone trying to aid survivors of that epic storm. Kamler recounts his experience being a team physician for 5 or 6 different Everest attempts, including 1996 when 5 people died on the mountain. I find the medicine and science behind climbing the world's highest mountain both incredible and ridiculous. This book has been keeping me up late.

2. Academic Motherhood by Kelly Ward and Lisa Wolf-Wendel. This book is next on my list. Wolf-Wendel is a professor at KU in Lawrence and will be speaking to my 'girl power' group at work at the end of the month. I'm looking forward to her research on many, many moms in academia giving me insight into my own daily struggles for balance.

3. Beyond Snapshots by Rachel Devine and Peta Mazey falls into my learn something new category. Since purchasing my DSLR last Spring, I have really enjoyed using it and have taken many, many pictures. But it also makes me want to take better pictures and this book promises to teach me how to get it off "Auto" and make the most of my photos. I first learned about the book from reading Devine's blog where she shows amazing photos of her kids. I don't have ambitions to be the world's most original and artistic photographer, I just want to take interesting and lovely photos of my favorite 3 ft tall subjects.

4. Elevating the Everyday by Tracey Clark. This book is similar to Snapshots, a guide to taking better pictures of your kids and daily life events. Probably overly ambitious to read two books on photography, but I don't expect to sit down and read these cover to cover. I hope to challenge myself with one new skill or technique each week.

What is on your nightstand right now? This stack is a bit short for my preference and all my other books were inadvertently put in storage. I'm looking for suggestions and anything goes!

Do you like to read books about travel and far away places, even when you don't have plans to visit anytime soon? I always have a case of wanderlust, probably heightened now by having kids that make major travel less likely. For me, reading about exciting and faraway places is a close second to actually being there.


  1. Just started:

    A Labyrinth of Kingdoms: 10,000 Miles through Islamic Africa

    In 1849 Heinrich Barth joined a small British expedition into unexplored regions of Islamic North and Central Africa. One by one his companions died, but he carried on alone, eventually reaching the fabled city of gold, Timbuktu. His five-and-a-half-year, 10,000-mile adventure ranks among the greatest journeys in the annals of exploration, and his discoveries are considered indispensable by modern scholars of Africa.

    Yet because of shifting politics, European preconceptions about Africa, and his own thorny personality, Barth has been almost forgotten. The general public has never heard of him, his epic journey, or his still-pertinent observations about Africa and Islam; and his monumental five-volume Travels and Discoveries in North and Central Africa is rare even in libraries. Though he made his journey for the British government, he has never had a biography in English. Barth and his achievements have fallen through a crack in history.


    Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout

    A decade ago Philip Connors left work as an editor at the Wall Street Journal and talked his way into a job far from the streets of lower Manhattan: working as one of the last fire lookouts in America. Spending nearly half the year in a 7' x 7' tower, 10,000 feet above sea level in remote New Mexico, his tasks were simple: keep watch over one of the most fire-prone forests in the country and sound the alarm at the first sign of smoke.

    Fire Season is Connors's remarkable reflection on work, our place in the wild, and the charms of solitude. The landscape over which he keeps watch is rugged and roadless—it was the first region in the world to be officially placed off limits to industrial machines—and it typically gets hit by lightning more than 30,000 times per year. Connors recounts his days and nights in this forbidding land, untethered from the comforts of modern life: the eerie pleasure of being alone in his glass-walled perch with only his dog Alice for company; occasional visits from smokejumpers and long-distance hikers; the strange dance of communion and wariness with bears, elk, and other wild creatures; trips to visit the hidden graves of buffalo soldiers slain during the Apache wars of the nineteenth century; and always the majesty and might of lightning storms and untamed fire.

    Written with narrative verve and startling beauty, and filled with reflections on his literary forebears who also served as lookouts—among them Edward Abbey, Jack Kerouac, Norman Maclean, and Gary Snyder—Fire Season is a book to stand the test of time.

    1. Thanks Zac! These sound really interesting, especially Fire Season. Have you read Doctor on Everest? I think all Phys grad students should!


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