Book Aesthetic

If you were to sit and watch an adaptation of Touching the Void on some random basic cable channel during the summer on a hot Thursday evening, you would write it off as a nonsensical and unbelievable work of fiction. You would swear that this story was only green-lit because the network president owed his nephew Chad a “favor” after getting caught snorting donkey dust at Chad’s film school frat party.

The WTF’s per chapter (WTF’s/C) were off the chart. As far as adventure books go this one is strangely unique in that you already know how it ends, and still feel a sense hope and fear along the way.

The book centers around Joe Simpson and his climbing partner Simon Yates descending a 21,000-foot peak in the Andes Mountains when Simpson fell from the face of the mountain breaking his leg. Despite the broken leg, Yates tried to lower his partner to safety before he was forced to cut the rope leaving his partner to perish. Only Joe Simpson didn’t perish, somehow he survived the descent from a mountain in freezing cold weather with no food or water. He also had to escape a crevasse with minimal tools, and make his way over a glacier and boulder field with no real sense of direction all on one leg. Oh, and he had to make it back to base camp before his climbing partner left for good.

Simpson’s account of the events had my stomach in knots from beginning to end. There is no way to capture this adventure as a book aesthetic, and I am embarrassed by the attempt. But, I set out to give this idea a try every month of the year, I’m 5-books in and have no reason to quit now. So, despite my shortcomings, here is my book aesthetic for Joe Simpson’s insane adventure story Touching the Void.

If you are a fan of adventure stories, climbing stories, or stories of survival against great odds, then I would recommend this book for sure. If you’d like to know more about the story without reading the book, Simpson and Yates returned to the scene years later to help film a docudrama for IFC (Chad and his imaginary uncle had no part in the making of this film). The film is available on Youtube for free. Here is a link.

Coming up in June will be Steve Callahan’s Adrift: Seventy-Six days Lost at Sea. If you want to read along, here is a link to the book!


33 Replies to “Book Aesthetic”

  1. I still give “Vertical Limit” my vote for most “…WTF’s per chapter (WTF’s/C)…” mainly because it’s consistently clueless about the laws of physics (or climbing for that matter). Simpson’s book, on the other hand, is both real and truly amazing!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I am leaning more towards outdoors type books, as I spend a lot of time not being able to due to health. I recently read ‘The Salt Path’ by Raynor Winn. Un-putdownable. And have ‘Wild’ and other outdoor related books yet to read. Kapka Kasabova’s ‘Boarder’ is also incredible. You are there with her on the Rhodope mountains. I’m not sure if I’d cope with the tension in ‘Touching the Void’, but will definitely keep it in mind for when I need an extra adrenaline rush. Great tiktok review, I’ve never thought of reviewing in that way. Fab!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for those book recommendations, I will add them to the list. I am excited to check them out. I’m happy you enjoyed the review, I’m no techie, but it’s kind of fun to stumble around with it!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. One of my favorite climbing books of all time. I swear that I sat down to read one night and didn’t move until I was so finished because it had me in its clutches! Thanks for the reminder about this great story!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is pretty much how I was too. I really liked how he had his climbing partner Simon give an account as well and how he never questioned Simon’s actions. It would be so hard to live with that choice, but must have been easier knowing that your partner never blamed you!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I really enjoyed the book but have never seen the movie. Nicely written with great descriptive visualization techniques. My biggest take away was the way you alluded to the “disbelief” in the general public over these types of true events. The reality of many of these are outside most people comfort zone making it easier to turn fact into fiction. If I may, and if you haven’t already read it, try “The Other Side of the Mountain”, the true story of the Olympic skiing champion, Jill Kinmont and her challenges following a challenging event in Alta, Utah. thanks for the article

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That book sounds perfect. I added it to my list. I appreciate the recommendation, I can’t wait to read it. I think you are right about its easier to make these events seem like fiction to allow us to process the story a little easier too. Thanks for the thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I climbed for many years with a Yorkshire climber who was in the same climbing club as Joe. When conversing about “Touching the Void”, he mentioned that whenever Joe asked if anyone wanted to go to the Lakes with him, everyone had plans for Wales, or Scotland or anywhere but where Joe wanted to go. The guy had a bad habit of losing partners.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks Martha…I constantly critique this process, so it’s nice to hear that where I stopped was a good place to just stop. I guess thats the beauty of self-imposed deadlines.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah…I think there is a high level of re-readability on this one. The way they did the film is really cool too. I think I remember reading that under the original rights of the film that Tom Cruise was going to play Joe. Don’t quote me on that one though?


  6. I knew you’d love this book. You’re absolutely right – it’s so insanely unbelievable. Especially when he decides to drop lower into the crevasse. When would that ever be a good idea? For Simpson it somehow magically works out.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s