I received my Climbing Magazine "Readers' Choice" Issue in the mail today. And it's such a disappointment. It surprised me that I could be so disappointed by it, because I've already lowered my expectations of Climbing magazine substantially. But not a single thing in the entire issue passes as a real article. Just page after page that look like what having A.D.D. must feel like. Busy pages of lists, survey results, a few short columns, and a bunch of things taken straight from the internet. If I want something from the internet, I'll just go get it from the internet! Why would they ever think readers want to pay for a magazine to tell them what's already on Mountain Project, or repeat what people said on their blogs? I realize that times are tough for the magazine business right now. I'm not trying to kick Climbing magazine when it's already down. But I would like to take it to the corner of the ring, slap it in the cover and tell it "You need to fight for your life or it's going to be over, and you're just not doing it right! You can't out internet the internet! It's time to calm down, just calm down, you have your own niche. If you print some good full length articles in every issue, then everything will be okay. Just one knock out article is really all you need to stay in this game."
I'm absolutely sure that there are still things going on in the climbing world, and topics to be explored, that can keep readers' interest for more than a couple pages. Rock and Ice still prints some really good full length articles, Alpinist is amazing (if you're into mountain climbing), and I enjoyed reading the most recent Climbing Zine from cover to cover.
But despite the previous rant, I'm just writing a list this week. Like one of the lists you could find in Climbing Magazine. What else can I do? The weather's been bad. I don't have a story, or any new information, or truly original opinions to share this week. But I have been reading a lot. And it's fine for me to just write a list, because #1 that's the type of thing the internet is for, and #2 I'm not asking you to pay for it.
So my true goal with this post is to help you spend some quality time away from the internet. To read something meaningful, something someone spent quite a bit of time to produce, a work that's actually worth your precious time. So here's a list of books that I'd recommend for anyone who's interested in bouldering. Buy them, borrow them from a library, or add them to your Christmas list. Then find a quiet spot, sit down with a warm drink during bad weather and enjoy one of them for a while.
For Bouldering History
John Gill Master of Rock by Pat Ament -This book helped John Gill get this whole thing started.
Stone Crusade by John Sherman -An entertaining account of American bouldering history up until 1992.
For Bouldering Development
Rock 'n' Road by Tim Toula - Documenting over 2000 in North America, this atlas to climbing areas still beats the Internet when it comes to finding fresh boulders. Buy some brushes, drive to any area in the guide, and see what you can find.
Sherman Exposed by John Sherman - Still the funniest bouldering stories I've read.
Stone Play: The Art of Bouldering edited by J S Watson- Good photos, and even better articles.
A Night on the Ground A Day in the Open by Doug Robinson- Deeper articles that are still fun to read.
Flakes, Jugs, & Splitters by Sarah Garlick- Learn how the boulders happened. Appreciate the stone, the world, and time in a more complete, more accurate way.
For the Climbing Life
High Infatuation: A Climber's Guide to Love and Gravity by Steph Davis- It's all in there somewhere.
For Getting Even Deeper into the Topic
The Boulder: A Philosophy for Bouldering by Francis Sanzaro - Think about bouldering in whole new ways.
For your Coffee Table
Southern Nevada Bouldering by Tom Moulin - Almost too heavy and too nice to actually take out to the boulders with you, it's an amazing work! If a guidebook can be art, this is the first that feels like a masterpiece.
I hope that you enjoy these books as much as I did. Who would have thought that recent Climbing Magazines, and the proliferation of internet click bait, would give me a such a renewed appreciation for books?
It's time for Thanksgiving!