Feature

Also of interest...in extreme journeys

Salt to Summit; A Sense of Direction; To the Last Breath; Visit Sunny Chernobyl

Salt to Summitby Daniel Arnold (Counterpoint, $18) Daniel Arnold takes no shortcuts when he goes hiking, said Michael J. Ybarra in The Wall Street Journal. Looking to get a feel for every inch of land between Death Valley’s Bad-water Basin and Mount Whitney, the highest U.S. peak south of Alaska, he turns a popular 150-mile walk into a more challenging, 17-day solo adventure. More than an intrepid outdoorsman, Arnold is a fine, evocative writer. Readers nearing the last page “will almost wish that he had found a longer way to the summit.”

A Sense of Directionby Gideon Lewis-Kraus (Riverhead, $27) Gideon Lewis-Kraus’s travelogue may divide readers, said Sam Allard in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. At odds with his father and worried about choices he’s yet to make, the young writer walks three famous pilgrimages, including the 500-mile Camino de Santiago in Spain and a circuit of 88 Buddhist temples in Japan. Lewis-Kraus’s confessions can be worse than “whiny.” But if you’re a 20-something, “whooee, there are moments that feel like he’s speaking from the cage of your private soul.” To the Last Breathby Francis Slakey (Simon & Schuster, $25) Francis Slakey opens his account of his death-defying adventures with “one of the most terrifying moments in nonfiction this year,” said John Wilwol in Washingtonian. Suspended in a cot on the face of Yosemite’s El Capitan, Slakey wakes to the sound and sight of his gear failing. You’d expect the first man who surfed all the world’s oceans and climbed the Seven Summits to deliver an “adrenaline shot” of a book. But Last Breath is also an “unexpectedly warm” memoir about overcoming loss. 

Visit Sunny Chernobylby Andrew Blackwell (Rodale, $26) A self-described “pollution tourist,” Andrew Blackwell has put together a “sobering” account of his travels, said Joshua Hammer in The New York Times. After witnessing nature’s unlikely comeback at the site of the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown, he spends most of his time visiting disaster zones still in the making. But as he traipses from a sewage-fouled river in India to Alberta’s oil sands to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the journey becomes “bleakly tiresome,” his insights “bleakly familiar.” 

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