Don't Try This at Home


Climbers’ bookshelves are often populated with dense accounts of historical accidents, techy how-to guides, and autobiographies concerning the inner workings of a mountaineer’s psyche. Rarely does a book come along that’s just plain fun to read. In With Bare Hands ($16.95,, Alain Robert, the French climber famed for free-soloing skyscrapers around the world, tells his often-harrowing and offbeat story. Despite vertigo, countless injuries, and dozens of arrests (including his first building climb: Chicago’s Citigroup Center, in 1994), Robert has climbed nearly 100 tall buildings, earning him the nickname the “French Spiderman.” Originally released in April 2008 in the U.K. and Asia, the book is available for the first time in North America and is well worth the afternoon it takes to read it. —Julie Ellison