Three books I recommend:
Touching the Void, by Joe Simpson. This true story of a climbing trip gone horribly, shockingly wrong is intense in the extreme. The movie version is worth a watch if you haven't seen it, but there's a good reason that Simpson's book has become such a classic among mountaineering memoirs. The suspense is unrelenting, but the story also drives home the fact that climbing big mountains puts our humanity in laser focus -- which is a huge part of why people do it in the first place. Catch up with Joe now, or read more about his book.
Why We Swim, by Bonnie Tsui. Lovely, transporting reading from a fellow NYT contributor, this book even inspired me -- a cold-water skeptic, to put it mildly -- to take a dip in our frigid local river. (Will I venture out a second time? Possibly, but not yet!) I loved the mix of reporting, memoir and history, as well as the chance to escape to Iceland (yes!), Japan, California and Hawaii, among other places. Details here if you're curious.
Alpine Cooking, by Meredith Erickson. I love a big, fat, photo-heavy cookbook, and this one ticks all of those boxes. But even better: it takes you on a tour of the best alpine restaurants across France, Italy, Switzerland and Austria -- with stories and recipes to complement the gorgeous photos. And no, the author insists, alpine cooking isn't all about cheese! (Although there's plenty of that, of course, if you're so inclined.) Check out the book here.
Got good book recs? I'm all ears.