Books are made for reading
(and boots are made for walking)
At this apocalyptic times of COVID-19 Pandemic (hopefully, in 2021 when you will meet this page and will think “What the h*** was this COVID-19 this guy talking about ?”), we have time to sit, read and write.
During the years of guiding I was asked many times the great question of “What books do you recommend about this and this topic?”, I think it’s a great question because books are better than articles. Books will aim to take one topic and analyze it from all sides, diving in to the core of the subject and hopefully, to give us a well calculated and wider answer to our questions.
I had the chance and luck to read these books while studying, guiding, in bad weather days in the tent waiting for better climbing conditions and in quit times on the sofa in my house. Hope you will find them interesting, fun and helpful just like I did.
So, without further explanations why it’s better to read books rather than internet articles, here are 10 recommended books - 5 about Israel (History, Archaeology and Geo-politics) and 5 books about climbing, good climbing.
Jerusalem, The Biography. By Simon Sebag Montefiore – To be honest, I didn't know about this book up to November 2019. I was guiding a great British couple that knew about the Crusades, the Romans, and early Christianity much, much more than the random traveler. They told me they read the book “Jerusalem, The Biography” and told them I didn’t know the book. Lucky enough at the end of the trip they bought me a present with this book and since then I was captured its remarkable small details. The book is focusing specifically on Jerusalemite History (not your ordinary town’s history) from almost the time of the big bang all the way to Jerusalem of the 20 century. With People, stories, wars, kings, battles, princesses, and dragons. The author is doing it while focusing on small details that somehow were almost forgotten in our times and linking them to stories or sites of the city nowadays. The book is thick and long, so take your time with this historical journey, which will give you a historical roller-coaster. You will enjoy every second. Thank you David & Germaine for giving me this book!.
Masters of the Desert. By Avraham Negev – Avraham Negev is what Ehud Netzer is for the Herodians. Prof Negev was the leading force behind the modern-era excavations on the Nabatean sites of Ovdat, Memphis (Mamshit), and Elusa (Halutza) during the ’50s and ’60s. The book is a summary of 25 years of investigations of Prof. Negev about the Nabateans at the Israeli Negev Desert, the Jordanian Edom & Moab Mtns. and the Sinai Peninsula. The Nabateans were always fascinating in my eyes, a hidden and elusive culture that bloomed in the most remote, harsh, and demanding deserts of this globe and disappeared from the pages of history almost like it didn’t exist.
The Nabateans left us some out-of-this-planet historical sites that were discovered only in the last 100 years. If you in into other cultures, amazing people, and magic, follow Prof. Negev's book and discover the world of Indiana Jones.
And it’s hard to find it for purchase on the net if you want to borrow it, more than welcome.
The Great Roman – Jewish Wars, Josephus Flavius – If you visited Jerusalem, Gamla, Herodion, Masada, Samaria, Jordan Valley, and Galilee Mtns. Have been in Israel quite a few times (or living in Israel) it’s about time to look at this book. It’s not an easy read, the Hebrew version is old-school and the English version is like a British Novel from the 11th century but this book is one of the most important literature milestones which shaped and affected the Israeli – Jewish historical narrative. If you were interested in the history of the Romans at times of chaos, if you heard different narratives about the story of Masada, if you were wondering in the Galilee Mountains and looking for the city of Yodfat this book will link many of the stories together and will shed light on another crucial period of Jewish history and Roman turbulence. (Just have a dictionary with you).
1948, History of the first Arab – Israeli war. By Benny Morris – History is (almost) all about politics, the author of the book is a controversial name among different Israeli historians and scholars but nonetheless one of the most prominent historians of his generation. The book is scratching on its first two chapters the roots of the Israeli – Palestinian conflict so if you want to know the roots of the tree ("the tree" is referred to the conflict) you should go to his other book “Righteous Victims” but if you want to know the trunk of the tree from the in and outsides, that’s the best book I can recommend on. The book is taking apart the ideas and ideology of both sides, who and why the leaders were, and detailing the war maneuvers. This is the best book in order to know the complex trunk of this growing tree called “The Conflict”.
Unrecognized populations and special communities in Israel. By Ariel – As far as I know, and as far as I found on the net, this book is available only in Hebrew edition atm.
You won’t find a lot (if at all) of reviews about this book, coming from a small publication company, this book is talking about special and specific communities in Israel. Some of them are special in their origins, some in the culture, some in the tradition and customs, some of them are Jewish, Muslims, Christians, and some of them are neither. The common for all of them is they are coming from a singular background and have a unique story. If you want to know Israel from another angle, that’s for you.
Rock Climbing / Alpinism books for some inspiration before our next Adventure!
Beyond the Mountain. By Steve House – It’s not by accident I chose this book to be the first one. At first sight, you will think the book only talks to Alpinists, Ice-climbers, or Mountaineers but (look surprised) it’s not. Steve House is an accomplished climber with a lot of experience and insights and he is still among us (pretty rare in the world of cutting-edge Alpinism nowadays). He writes and explains about the ambitions that caused him to go out on walls and slopes on different corners of the globe. He writes about his partners, the first ascents, the failures he had, the mistakes he did, and what and how much he learned from the eastern – Europeans climbing style and especially from his Slovenian climbing partners. Great flow, good stories, remarkable ascents, and easy to digest!
Eiger Dreams. By Jon Krakauer – A famous writer (not because of this book), a controversial writer (not because of this book), and a pretty good climber in the past (not because of this book). Krakauer is very skilled with his keyboard.
Writing fluently, clear, and sharp, he takes all of the articles he published during the years, big adventures around the world on rock, ice, and snow, and gathers it into one great book! The thing is that he wasn’t one of these insanely skilled, high-end-cutting-edge climbers or bolder than most of us (except for trying to solo the north face of Devils Thumb in Alaska). He was human, did mistakes, skilled “but not too much” and he is writing very clear and with love to the subject, something all climbers from all levels can attach to.
Rock Queen. By Catherine Destivelle – Many modern (non-European) climbers don’t know the story of this remarkable, unconventional climber. In her self-written autobiography, Catherine continuously demonstrates her sense of perseverance and bold climbing ascents alongside modesty and real-life struggles. She writes about the ups and downs of her career, how she arrived at the bottom and built herself back to the top (with and without a rope). The translation from French to English is a bit poor, to say the least, however, it does not belittle the effect and content of the book which has to be on the list of every climber! (Thank you Yael F. (also a queen) giving your own insights on the book)
High Infatuation, A climber’s guide to Love and Gravity. By Steph Davis – Steph Davis is often recognized mistakenly by the loss of two of her husbands BUT she is an extremely self-accomplished climber by herself. Her autobiography is actually a collection of notes from her diary she wrote while climbing. She writes about her journeys to be a “Big-wall” climber, what it takes to learn it “on-sight” on the wall, and what it means to be an elite Athlete-climber in a male dominant environment. While reading the book we are getting exposure to the personal perspectives and radical situations a super-talented and super-motivated climber is dealing with while climbing on Big-walls and Alpine terrain.
Let my people go Surfing. By Yvon Chouinard – As you can understand, this book is not (only) about climbing but it’s also not about surfing. It was written by one of the pioneers of rock climbing in the US and an important figure in the history of modern ice–climbing. Yvon Talks about his business “Patagonia” and writes how climbing, doing first–ascents, and avoiding the authorities in Yosemite during the '60s shaped his view on the natural environment and why the climbing culture and the outdoor enthusiasts have to be responsible and act in order to preserve (and fix) what is left from our nature and the untouched environment. A great read for climbers, surfers, backpackers, kayakers, everyone who loves nature, and yeah, also businesspeople because this guy made it big time.
Enjoy the read! If you found any mistakes, if you have your own review, if you want to borrow one of the books or if you just want to say hi, send a message!