• Jeannette McGill

Mountain Reading: Coffee Table Visual Inspiration

Updated: Aug 29


Coffee-table books can be weighty and cumbersome, especially if regular relocation is part of your repertoire - but these features compensate with visual impact. Here are some of my picks that have travelled around the globe with me:

The Climbers is a pictorial odyssey by Jim Herrington of climbers with significant pedigree. A good look at intriguing people who paved the mountain ways for many subsequently. My favourite image is of one of the 3 women included in this stunning work: Gwen Moffat. Worth sitting with and imagining yourself alongside each person. Mountaineers (a collaboration between the Alpine Club and the Royal Geographical Society) is a veritable treasure trove of history and insights in the historical trajectory of mountaineering.

To the Summit is a smorgasbord of “fifty mountains that lure, inspire and challenge”. With global choices each peak includes descriptions and strategies and insights. If you are looking for a global shortlist of possible choices then using this list as a foundation would be a good beginning. Encounters with the Dragon is the culmination of the authors' 20 yrs of photography and adventures in the rugged and majestic Drakensburg of South Africa/Lesotho. This used to be my training ground and so the pictures conjure up many fond memories. The Conquest of Everest was prepared for the 60th Anniversary of the 1953 first ascent. What makes this edition pop are the original photographs from this expedition, adding to the historical platform of mountaineering.

Natural Affinities showcase the visual work of compatriots Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams two powerhouses American artists who captured and illuminated the natural world. With insightful essays this book is a good substitute for Covid times when the outdoors seem less accessible. Barrier of Spears is as old as I am, yet remains a South African classic regarding stories of high adventure, mystery; history and drama that relied on the Drakansburg as the stage. The rather “pre-historic” gender narrative and societal lens is what it is; learnings and interest can still be retained.

This blog is an affiliate of online bookstores. When you click on some book titles you will be directed to a website where you can purchase the pictured item. Should you choose to purchase the item I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. All my opinions and suggestions are unbiased & based on my own extensive experience.

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