Books That Inspire 2009

Breaking Trail: A Climbing Life
Arlene Blum

Arlene Blum interweaves the account of her extraordinary life as a biochemist in academia with her experiences as a mountain climber leading the 1978 first women-only ascent of Annapurna. Blum’s memoir provides riveting descriptions of her astonishing mountaineering achievements that also included a 2,400-mile trek across Bhutan, Nepal, and India. Additionally, the book serves as an eye-opening reminder of the difficulties women encountered in academia during the 60s and 70s and serves as a social history of women’s changing roles in the later part of the 20th century. Blum’s memoir was personally fascinating as I taught in India in the Himalayan Mountains during the years Blum undertook her Himalayan trek.

Barbara R. Fast
Associate Professor
School of Music