Good Reads | Mount Whitney and California’s highest peaks |

Good Reads | Mount Whitney and California’s highest peaks

Well folks, it is actually that time again! Next week, I will be presenting my third annual Book Recommendations for Holiday Giving. This year it will be in one issue of the paper, instead of over a series of weeks. Both the libraries and the local bookstores will be more than happy to facilitate your investigation and procure any of these books. Lucky recipients on your gift list will just plain be happy to receive one. There are wonderful choices this year.

There is a special book I would like to highlight from the list and recommend to you. Heyday Institute, a nonprofit educational company that works to deepen people’s understanding and appreciation of the cultural, artistic, historical and natural resources of California and the American West, in partnership with The Yosemite Association, have just released the second book in their collaboration, “Above All: Mount Whitney and California’s Highest Peaks.” Much like the first (‘Luminous Mountains: The Sierra Nevada of California’ by Tim Parker which I reviewed March 7, 2008), it is stunning and enlightening. Here we are brought directly in contact with California’s ‘fourteeners’ ” mountains that rise over 14,000 feet and whose topography is both treacherous and majestic.

The book’s forward is by Kenneth Brower, himself a climber, who was introduced to mountaineering early in life by his father, David Brower, first executive director of the Sierra Club, and later founder of Friends of the Earth, the League of Conservation Voters and Earth Island Institute. Divided into four sections ” The Whitney Region, White Mountain Peak, The Palisades and Shasta ” the book graciously educates and prepares us for the photographic adventure that follows. The text by well-known historian and climber Steve Roper, which introduces each section, is finely crafted with anecdotes, history, climbing stories and facts tastefully woven in such a fashion you would swear he was right there in the room speaking directly to you.

He also has included at the end of each section ‘Sources and Further Reading’ which describes more details. As he states in the Introduction, “This is not a book about the peaks’ geology or natural history. Nor is it a guidebook. It’s a book of unique photos and a potpourri of interesting information…”

The 60 full-color photographs, shot either at sunrise or sunset, by photographer David Stark Wilson, run across the double pages and are absolutely mesmerizing. An avid mountaineer, Stark grew up in Berkeley and began climbing with his family as a youngster, becoming a regular with Galen Rowell while in his teens. He began photographing mountain landscapes at an early age. Although he went on to become an award-winning building designer by trade, he has always maintained his love for photography and mountains.

In describing his preparation for the photographs taken for ‘Above All,’ Wilson notes “For me, the best images conveyed the ethereal and mystical quality at the very edges of the day…In a landscape largely unchanged since the early adventures of Muir, Brewer and King, it is the emotional response to the high country that is timeless for the mountain travelers.”

For most of us, we only have the opportunity to look up at these colossal definitions of our landscape, but thanks to what David Wilson captured and Heyday Books published, we can now look out across them and drink in their range of light and beauty on every page.

” Barbara Perlman-Whyman’s Good Reads column appears in the Sun on Fridays. E-mail

Barbara’s Good Reads List:

Adults (fiction): “Napoleon in Egypt” by Paul Strahern

Young Adult (ages 13 to 17): “Graceling” by Kristin Cashore

Juvenile (fourth through sixth grade): “Savvy” by Ingrid Law

Children (second through third grade): “Bird” by Zetta Elliott

Books for Book Groups: “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy

“Great things are done when men and mountains meet.”

” William Blake, (1757-1827)

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