Our November Book Club Pick Is ‘Powder Days’
Join us in reading Heather Hansman’s ‘Powder Days’
Outside's long reads email newsletter features our strongest writing, most ambitious reporting, and award-winning storytelling about the outdoors. Sign up today.
November has arrived, and for many folks in snowy climates, the start of ski season is tantalizingly near. As Outside editors count down the weeks to opening day, we’re very excited to introduce our next book club pick: Powder Days, a wide-ranging look at the state of American ski culture by Heather Hansman.
Hansman, an Outside contributing editor and environmental columnist, has a long history with the sport: she grew up skiing the mountains of New Hampshire and moved west after college in pursuit of fresh powder, landing a job scanning lift tickets at Colorado’s Beaver Creek Resort. For Powder Days, she traveled across the Mountain West in search of “true ski bums,” as she calls them, trying to unpack the appeal of a pastime that has been a lifelong obsession for her and for so many. She traces skiing’s history back to the late 19th century, charts the ways in which figures like Warren Miller popularized the dirtbag lifestyle, and examines the precarity of ski bumming at a time when climate change, economic inequality, and the corporatization of ski areas are making the sport’s future increasingly uncertain. The book is tinged with a complicated nostalgia for Hansman’s own years as a ski bum: she writes vividly about the the rush of dropping into a chute, but she’s also honest about skiing’s darker sides, from its sexism and racism to the mental health and substance abuse issues that plague mountain towns. Its themes will be familiar to experienced skiers, but even if you’ve never put on a pair of skis, Powder Days provides an engaging introduction to the past, present, and future of the activity.
Today, we’re sharing an excerpt of the book on Outside Online, and later this week, we’ll be publishing a review by Outside correspondent Tracy Ross. At the end of the month, we’ll post an interview with Hansman exclusively for Outside+ members (if you’re not yet a member, sign up here to read all our members-only stories and get additional perks like two free books from VeloPress and access to the Warren Miller film library).
To join the conversation about Powder Days, head over to our Facebook group, where we’ll be posting weekly discussion prompts starting next Tuesday (and, as usual, chatting about everything else we’ve been reading this month). If you’re not on Facebook, you can always send us a note with your thoughts on the book or a question for the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.