I’m sitting at my supper table, eating a tasty, almost-vegetarian home-cooked meal, and reading a book. A big book. One that’s making me think.

And I’m thinking that this isn’t what I’d really like to be reading. I’d love to be deep into a novel, something that takes place in a location I’d love to learn more about, with a bit of romance, maybe a bit of mystery, some great characterization…. 

But no. I’m actually ploughing through three books (at each meal I choose one), and all of them are non-fiction. What I would have called ‘heavy’ reading, when I was in school.

One is about rats. Yep, rats. The rodent. In New York City. Actually it’s a fascinating exploration of the animal, the city, and our psyche. I would never have picked it up if my son hadn’t pushed it across the table at me and said I needed to read it. He was right.

One is about money. Actually, about economics. So not me! Money is a necessary evil, something we need but don’t want to need. How did money start? Did we always have it? (No.) What is its role in our society? When Alex told me about that one, I replied, “Who cares? Give me a good novel!” But like the rat book, it’s turning out to be fascinating. It’s making me think. And think. Not necessarily what I’d like to do over supper, but still, I’m going places, mentally, where I’d never go otherwise. Which is always a good thing.

The third one that I’m shuffling over supper-times is about climbing. I always enjoy those. Chris’ book (see below for book info) is part technical, part philosophy, and really delves into the head part of climbing, which is the part of climbing that stymies me the most. 

But still, with a good meal, a novel just….

Well, I haven’t read a novel in a long, long time, and I’m not missing it. I do look forward to getting back to that; but the books that were recommended to me by my kids are taking me places I never would have thought of going myself. Isn’t that the definition of adventure?

At my daughter’s suggestion, I’m reading poetry. When I was in high school, Robert Frost was one of my favorite writers. He still is, I’ve learned, but it took being pushed into it to re-discover that. Thanks, Stasia!

So my recommendation to you: Ask your friends what they’re reading. Ask your kids. Ask your kids’ friends. It just might open doors for you that you’d never even realized were closed.

What I’m having fun reading right now (but wouldn’t have been, if left to my own devices):

Rats, by Robert Sullivan. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2004.

Sacred Economics, by Charles Eisenstein. Evolver Editions, North Atlantic Books, 2011.

Why We Climb, by Chris Noble. Falcon Publishers, 2017.

Have you read a good book lately??

5 thoughts on “Rats!

  1. I wrote a whole comment and some questions for Deirdre last evening. Did it disappear after I wrote it?
    Libby Edwards
    75 year old climber

  2. I found your book in my favorite Estes Park book store and have loved reading it. I have been quite taken by Alex of course, so I was thrilled to learn I could read a book by his mother. About five years ago I started again climbing inside on a wall, stopped during two years of Covid, and am now back loving it. I do not have a partner and just do the autobelays in Fort Collins Ascent studio. Living in Colorado, I have often wondered how to get outside to climb which is something I certainly cannot do by myself safely. I just turned 75, so I related to your book. Any tips on finding a way to get outside to climb would be helpful. Hire a guide? The studio has night time belay classes but I am nervous about having others belay me, even though my son and I belayed each other in a climbing gym in Belgium when he was in HS about 20 years ago! So are my concerns unfounded?

    • Sorry it’s taken so long to reply, Libby! Work tends to take over…. No, your concerns are not unfounded at all. I’d suggest going to a climbing gym, and ask if there’s anyone there who would like a partner. You might have to belay for them first (that’s how it went for me). Climb with them once, and if you feel safe and think they’re paying enough attention to all the safety factors, then you have a partner! Tell them you’re looking for others. Most gyms have a ‘partner board’ (or whatever they call it) where people post that they’re looking for partners to go outdoors. You have to be a bit of a detective, but it’s definitely possible! Let me know how it goes. 🙂

  3. The Fresno County Library has a used bookstore that I frequent – both to donate and buy books – which is where I found a copy of your book, “The Sharp End of Life.” I have people in my life much like your late ex-husband so I could really understand and relate to that part of your life.

    I used to do a lot of long distance cycling; double centuries in a day, The Climb to Kaiser, multi-day bike tours, so I can relate to and appreciate the training and mindset you needed to accomplish your many adventures.

    Reading your book has made me rethink my belief that if you don’t learn a second language as a kid, you might as well not bother. I’ll be 70 in a couple of months and am starting to worry about dementia and ways to stave it off. I’ve read the research about the benefits of knowing a second language. You’ve encouraged me to give Spanish another try.

    I didn’t just happen onto your book, by the way. After watching “Free Solo” I was curious about Alex’s mother – how she survived his adventures. I did a little google search and found that you had written a book.

    • Good luck with your Spanish! The best way is to go live in a spanish-speaking place. On your own, with no one to speak English with. Have fun!

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