Sometimes the route a book takes to my TBR list is like an expressway. At the first sight or review it’s added. This usually happens when it’s a familiar author or review from a trusted person.
Other times it’s more of an adventure through a series of detours and side roads that gets a book added to my TBR list. The book I’m currently reading is this second type.
The three days a week I work downtown always include a morning trip across the street to the Borders store for coffee from the Seattle’s Best Cafe. I’m usually there before the bookstore opens so while waiting for my coffee I have just a small portion of the store available for browsing. One of the sections accessible near the cafe is the clearance section.
A few weeks ago a book on the clearance shelf caught my eye. It was Paths of Glory by Jeffrey Archer. He’s been an author I’ve had a mixed relationship with over the years. I’ve really enjoyed some of his books and others have been ‘meh’. When I see his name on a new book, I’ll take a look but not automatically buy.
This one turns out to be a fictionalized account of the story of George Mallory who may or may not have been the first man to reach the summit of Mt. Everest. He was last seen alive near the summit in 1924 and never returned. His body was found 75 years later in 1999, but whether or not he actually reached the summit 30 years before Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay remains unknown.
You had me at “Everest”, but I didn’t get the book.
I’ve been fascinated with stories of Mt. Everest attempts ever since I read Jon Krakauer’s account of the disastrous 1996 season in Into Thin Air. I’ve read a few other mountain climbing books since then and have watched many a Discovery channel show about Everest.
When I had a chance, I looked at the reviews on GoodReads and at my library website for Paths of Glory. I decided that while I may read it someday, what I really wanted to find was a non-fiction book about Mallory or his expedition. And the search was on.
I spent some time browsing the websites for both my libraries as well as Powell’s Books.
One of the Library Journal reviews for Paths of Glory led me to a couple of different options. One was a biography of Mallory and the other was Ghosts of Everest: The Search for Mallory and Irvine. After doing some more checking into the reviews and comments about these books, my urge to read something about Mallory and Everest was satisfied. Although I might eventually read the biography, it was Ghosts of Everest that ended up coming home from the library with me the next day.
I chose this book because not only is it the story of the 1924 expedition which ended with the disappearance of Mallory and his climbing partner Andrew Irvine, it’s also the story of the 1999 expedition that found Mallory’s body so many years after he went missing.
So although I still haven’t decided whether or not I’ll read Jeffrey Archer’s book, I have him to thank (along with an assist from Jon Krakauer) for leading me to this absolutely fascinating book. But then again maybe it’s really Jon Krakauer’s fault with an assist from Jeffrey Archer?
I’ll be posting a review of Ghosts of Everest later this week.