Good Reads: Risks people take for fishing poles, philosophies, and friendship

This post is part of a series recommending narrative, longform journalism and nonfiction pieces.

Is it worth it?

It could be anything. A dive into alligator-infested waters, a move away from everything you know, a climb up a stretch of rock others have labelled unclimbable. Is it worth the risk?

Sometimes, we step up to the forks in life’s road and decide to do what terrifies us, because our decisions shouldn’t be driven by fear. Right? But why do we fear things in the first place? Couldn’t there be a seed of truth buried deep in that overwhelming sense of fright?

These recommended reads all have an aspect of risk. Decide for yourself whether the decisions were worth it.

Unclimbable by Eva Holland, SB Nation

Eva Holland’s knee was in bad shape when she went to the Cirque of the Unclimbables, a trip she’d been anticipating for quite some time. Three Colorado College graduates had just received a grant for a similar trip, also the Unclimbables, when their good friend died in an avalanche. To go or not go? And if they go, how hard should they push?

The Friend by Matthew Teague, Esquire

When Matthew Teague’s wife was dying of cancer, a mutual close friend of he and his wife decided to move in and help. This piece is a heartfelt account of Teague seeing the friend give up nearly everything to meet the needs of him and his wife.

My Dad Tried to Kill Me with an Alligator by Harrison Scott Key, Outside

Lighter and more humorous than the previous two, this piece examines fatherhood through the lens of Harrison’s terrified childhood and, toward the end, his own fathering experience. A fast-paced read that will make you laugh. Unless you’ve decided not to.

And for a fairly accurate (and hilarious) portrayal of the consensus on truth in nonfiction:

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Truth in Nonfiction But Were Afraid to Ask: A Bad Advice Cartoon Essay by Dave Gessner

No description needed. Just go read it. Seriously.

Good Reads: Missing hikers, recovering communities, and war dogs

This is the fourth in a new series of weekly posts recommending well-written narrative nonfiction/longform articles.

Did North Korea Kidnap an American Hiker? by Chris Vogel, Outside

In 2004, David Sneddon, 24, was capping off a summer studying in China by hiking western China near the Tiger Leaping Gorge. The Mandarin-speaking American was excited to return to the States and finish his college studies, according to emails he’d sent his family, but he never got to his brother’s place in Seoul. Ten years later, he still hasn’t been found, and most evidence points to a kidnapping by North Korea.

Sandy’s Ghost Towns Asbury Park Press Special Report

A collection of stories profiling various New Jersey towns that Hurricane Sandy hit hard in 2012. Each piece gives a taste of local flavor (like Giesela Smith’s crumb cake) and shares the stories and perspectives of residents, what they’ve been through and what they anticipate for the summer.

The Dogs of War by Michael Paterniti, National Geographic

Unsung heroes who are flung in danger’s way unknowingly, war dogs are adopted and trained by the U.S. military for three purposes: patrol, detecting, or tracking. In this piece, Paterniti follows Marine Corporal Jose Armenta and his dog Zenit, as they searched ground in Afghanistan for IEDs, improvised explosive devices, in 2011. The bond between man and dog.

What have you been reading?