Other than the excitement of being out on the slopes all day, your ski holiday packing list should include a few good books, and nothing beats a terrific page-turner curled up in front of a cracking fireplace with a glass of something in your hand. Here at Chalet Floralie, we love the mountains – and any excuse to experience their grandeur and beauty is worth the time, wait and expense. 2020, however, has not allowed us to get up close and personal with these giants of nature and so, if you are like us and are just raring to get out there again, perhaps these top five must-read books about the mountains will whet your appetite until you too can travel and explore them for yourselves again.
While not an exclusive reading list by any means, these are just a selection of ski-holiday inspired books that we would enjoy taking away with us to the slopes. Some books are about the history of skiing itself, some evoke the freedom and joy found in grand experiences in the open, and some are just classic, gripping reads. Enjoy!
Two Planks and a Passion
by Roland Huntford
Written by one of the world’s leading authorities on polar expeditions, this incredibly insightful work chronicles the history of skiing, from its emergence 20,000 years ago to its continued presence over the course of later human history. This immensely interesting read is high on our list of favourite mountain books and it is sure to make you look at the planks strapped to your feet with a greater understanding and a stronger appreciation. The Times’ Literary Supplement called this epic work “skiing’s definitive history for years to come,” so, if you enjoy history books, this is surely the one for you.
Into the Wild
by Jon Krakauer
A powerfully moving book, Into the Wild follows the true story of American college graduate Chris McCandliss, aka ‘Alexander Supertramp’, as he shuns society and ventures deep into the Alaskan wilderness on a journey to find truth, beauty, understanding, and, perhaps most importantly, himself. Poignant and compelling, Krakauer tells of a search for a freedom found in nature that is near impossible, especially in today’s world. His flight for freedom could possibly be understood in a physical sense while breathing clear, cool, Alpine air and soaring out towards breath-taking mountain vistas on a pair of trusty skis. Whatever your conclusion on his need for escape, Into the Wild is still a wonderful, thought-provoking read and is a wholeheartedly recommended holiday must.
Mountains of the Mind
by Robert Macfarlane
Punctuated by reflections on his own climbing experiences, Cambridge Fellow and famed nature writer Robert MacFarlane fills this inspirational read with rich accounts of the cultural and literary histories concerning mountains. In this fascinating read, he explores how early geologists helped transform our perceptions of mountainous wild and chaotic landscapes and how their potent beauty still now has a powerful grip upon our minds. With thorough research into geology, the pursuit of fear, his desire to explore the unknown and drive to get to the summit, MacFarlane’s beautifully written book is a moving meditation on the mysticism of the mountain and is a fantastic book to accompany your next Alpine adventure.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
by Wes Andersson
Though originally written as a screenplay for the popular 2014 film of the same name, The Grand Budapest Hotel is based around a writer visiting a popular European ski resort, and its Grande Dame hotel that has since fallen on hard times. A humorous whirlwind of a story, it will make you grateful for your peaceful time away and the impeccable service at Chalet Floralie, but will still keep you occupied in the evenings with vivid fantasies of the slopes.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
by Ian Fleming
In this classic Ian Fleming novel, agent James Bond “007” partners with the adventurous, and glamorous, Tracy Di Vicenzo to battle the evil SPECTRE organisation in the treacherous Swiss Alps, from where the group’s mastermind, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, is launching his most calamitous scheme yet. The ensuing action, which involves bobsleighs, skiing and all-round winter shenanigans will leave you yearning for your own Alpine adventure – though, we hope, without the impending danger Bond finds himself caught up in!