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2012 Outdoor Book Awards spotlight top titles

OUTDOOR READING — Stunning underwater photography.  A coming-of-age story of three women.  Wonder and magic in a small patch of forest.  Nail biting adventure and a desperate self-rescue from a crevasse on Mount Rainier. 

These are some of the themes found among the winners of the 2012 National Outdoor Book Awards (NOBA),  said Ron Watters, awards program chairman.  The annual awards program recognizes the best in outdoor writing and publishing.

The judges also pegged some top natural history and adventure guidebooks produced this year.

"A masterpiece," is the term the judges used to describe photographer David Hall's  "Beneath the Cold Seas," a collection of photographs taken in the underwater world of the Pacific Northwest. 

A total of 15 bookswere honored in this year's awards.  The awards program is sponsored by the National Outdoor Book Awards Foundation, Idaho State University and the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education.

Among the winners is "Almost Somewhere: Twenty-Eight Days on the John Muir Trail" by Suzanne Roberts.  It is one of two winners in the Outdoor Literature category. 

"Almost Somewhere" is about a backpacking trip that Roberts takes with two other women.  It's outdoor adventure from a feminine perspective.  Roberts obsesses with her weight and grapples with conflicted views of sex and relationships.  One of the other women on the trip struggles with bulimia.

"It's an introspective and honest narrative of their journey," said Watters.  "What emerges from the book is a revealing and insightful coming-of-age portrait of women of the post baby boom generation."


The other winner of the Outdoor Literature Category is "The Ledge" by Jim Davidson and Kevin Vaughan. It is the true story of Davidson's desperate attempt to escape from a crevasse on Mount Rainier. After he falls, he finds himself caught with his pack wedged between two walls of ice. Below him is an abyss.

"I promise," said Watters. "'This is a book that will keep you turning the pages. Davidson must dig deep into his inner physical reserves, all the while, struggling internally with a range of emotions that alternate between hope, despair, and terror. It's a spellbinding account."

Read on for more highlights from this year's judging and a complete list of the award-winning books for you to consider.