The Outside Blog

Skiing and Snowboarding : Books

Falcon's Interactive Guides to Hiking, Climbing, and Cooking

FalconGuides just announced the first 12 titles in a new line of interactive outdoor guides the company developed in partnership with Inkling, a platform for interactive learning.

For the price of the download, readers get expert content optimized for iPhone, iPad, and Web, with features that bridge the gap between apps and ebooks: slideshows with high-res images not found in the print editions, guided visual tours, hyperlinks, and smart search that makes it quick and easy to get to the information you need, from a list of dog-friendly hikes to a river name. Hiking guide users can give tips to other readers and share trail notes on washed out bridges, best photo ops, bees nests to watch out for, or anything else. An animal tracks feature lets you click through a series of questions that narrows down which animal tracks you’ve spotted based on pattern, shape, and size. Rock climbing instructional guides have stop-motion animation illustrating specific techniques.

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2012 National Outdoor Book Award Winners Announced

Screen Shot 2012-11-16 at 11.00.59 AMThe Ledge. Photo: Random House

The National Outdoor Book Awards have released their picks for the best books of 2012. This year's titles include 15 winners and honorable mentions in nine categories, ranging from children's book to natural history to design. The Outdoor Literature Award was a tie between two books, Almost Somewhere: Twenty-Eight Days on the John Muir Trail, by Suzanne Roberts, and The Ledge: An Adventure Story of Friendship and Survival on Mount Rainier, by Jim Davidson and Kevin Vaughan.

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Journalist to Write Book About Career Chasing Lance Armstrong

Screen Shot 2012-11-14 at 9.07.04 AMDavid Walsh/Twitter. Photo: Screenshot

When journalist David Walsh, the chief sports writer for the Sunday Times and the author of From Lance to Landis and LA Confidential, needed a title for his new book about the 13 years he’s spent trying to expose Lance Armstrong’s doping, he took to Twitter. “Thinking about title for this last book on LA, have not come up with anything. So okay it's over to you - 1 or 2-word title, 3 or 4 max,” he said.

Responses came streaming in. Some were good. Some made little sense at all. Walsh kept a running tab of his favorites and responded to them. Here’s a short list, including the tweet announcing the winner, Seven Deadly Sins.

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'Fire Season' Wins Banff Book Competition Grand Prize

Screen Shot 2012-11-02 at 10.00.48 AMFire Season. Photo: Ecco/Harper Collins

On Thursday, Banff announced that Fire Season won the Grand Jury Prize in its 2012 book competition. Written by Philip Connors, who quit his job at The Wall Street Journal to work on a fire lookout for eight seasons, the book quickly gained an impressive slate of reviews when it was released earlier this year. In our May issue, Bruce Barcott offered his opinion. "In short, it's one of the best books to come out of a government gig since Ed Abbey turned a ranger's wage into Desert Solitaire," he said.

Banff gave the book its Grand Jury Prize for a number of reasons.

"The winner of the Grand Jury Prize was for all three of us judges the outstanding book of the 2012 Banff Mountain Book Competition. Nothing else came close in terms of literary quality, human oddity, and that indefinable element of surprise present in all the very best writing. We loved this book," the judges wrotes. "The persona, the character as it comes through in his book of the author, his humor and odd sagacity, his sharp and lucid gift of natural observation, the fascinating perspective he gives on the ecology of wildfire, charmed and informed us. Also, since he went to school in Missoula, he can almost be claimed as Canadian, Montana being more like here than down there. Of all this year’s authors, here’s the one with whom we felt we’d most like to share a beer."

"His book will surely be accepted into the outdoor and environmental literary canon as one to be ranked with Aldo Leopold’s Sand County Almanac and ornery old Ed Abbey’s Desert Solitaire," they continued. "It’s the account of a former Wall Street Journal writer’s sojourns through several summers at a fire-lookout post in the Gila Wilderness Area of southwest New Mexico: If there's a better job anywhere on the planet, I'd like to know what it is."

If you still need another opinion, consider this one from Outside senior editor Grayson Schaffer: "The gushing, here, over Philip Connors's book is well deserved," he said on Facebook. "Must read."

I've included the other winners below. Click on the award to read feedback from the Banff Mountain Book Competition Jury, and on the title to buy the book.

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Banff Mountain Book Competition Announces Finalists

ToTheArctic"To the Arctic". Photo: Florian Schulz

The Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival is an annual gathering of the biggest names in adventure and environmental writing and filmmaking. This year, attendees can climb with Conrad Anker, sip coffee and chat with Fred Beckey, attend a session on pitching National Geographic magazine, and learn how to pack from Gerlinde Keltenbrunner—all in between book sessions that include whisky tastings.

The 2012 book competition includes 18 finalists in four major categories: adventure travel, mountain and wilderness literature, guidebooks, and mountain image. Roughly 50 readers whittled the entries down over the summer to their favorite books. On November 1, the festival will announce the $1,000 winner in each category and the $2,000 grand prize for the best book of the year.

If you have time on your hands and a little money to burn, the festival takes place in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada, from October 27 to November 4. You can pick up copies of the books at the festival and maybe track down a few of the authors. Just in case your schedule doesn't allow for such a jaunt, we've included a list of the finalists below, with links to their books on Amazon. And here's a link to The Whisky Exchange too, just in case you want to read like they do in Banff.

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