Community Book Initiative


Alpenglow Sports operates through a rich and connected community-centric business model. For 42 years, we have put on events that bring our community together and facilitate fun, education and inspiration. One has to look no further than our Winter Speaker Series, a large-scale event that seeks to give back to the community that has supported the shop since its inception in 1979.

While it felt like the global pandemic jettisoned any opportunity for this community-centric model, as we were unable to gather in our traditional ways over the last couple of years, it also challenged us to consider new ways in which we could engage with our community. Thus, the Community Book Initiative was born.

The format is simple. Each spring, Alpenglow reaches out to 10 community members who are respected and admired for their mountain pursuits, community involvement and inclination to make Tahoe a great place to live. Each community member is asked for two to three thought provoking and enlightening titles related to a theme, for a total of 20 books. These titles are designed to spark dialogue and illicit personal reflection and engagement, with topics including environmental, social, or adventure-related issues. After all, we’re all beautiful works in progress.

We have chosen the theme “wanderlust” for the 2023 season. Additionally, we have chosen the non-profit Boys & Girls Club North Lake Tahoe as the beneficiary of our Community Book Initiative. From May 15th - June 20th Boys & Girls Club NLT will receive 100% of book sale proceeds from our 20 community recommended titles. Books can be bought online HERE and shipped to your address or we encourage you to come into the shop to see these titles for yourself.

This year, the Community Book Initiative will culminate with a Tailgate Talk and subsequent book signing from Alenka Vrecek, as she introduces her new book, She Rides. In her book, Alenka documents her experience of mountain biking the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range to the tip of the Baja Peninsula in Mexico as a means of healing. The event is free to the community and all beverage proceeds will benefit the local non-profit, Boys and Girls Club of North Lake Tahoe. Doors open at 6:30pm and the show starts at 7pm. This will be the start of her book tour, and will be a particularly special send off from Alenka’s Tahoe community. Her book is currently available for presale HERE on our website.
BGCNLT Color Logo Basic

About the Boys & Girls Club of North Lake Tahoe (BGCNLT):
BGCNLT is a leader in youth development across the North Tahoe-Truckee region. Annually, the organization serves over 1,200 children, ages 3-18, with out-of-school time programs that are engaging, fun, and that meet the needs and interests of our local youth. BGCNLT operates these programs at four locations in the region: in Kings Beach at an independent Clubhouse on the Kings Beach Elementary School campus; in Truckee at school sites on the Truckee Elementary School campus and the Alder Creek middle school campus; and in Incline Village on the Incline Elementary School campus with the Duffield Youth Program. Across all sites, BGCNLT offers high quality, safe, and affordable programming for youth with scholarships available.

BCGNLT is the non-profit beneficiary of the Community Book Initiative and is creating a new library lounge in their education room! This space will provide a comfortable and inviting area for your children to read and study, and we can't wait for them to explore all the books and materials they have available. Get ready to cozy up with a good book in their new lounge library!
Rachelle Vanderplas is a long time Utah resident who fell in love with the deep twisting canyons and wild rock formations of the southwest desert early on in life. It was these early experiences that shaped her spirit and kicked off a lifetime of wanderlust. Her travels, both solo and with partners, have led her off the beaten path throughout Europe, Africa, South America, Asia and across the US. These adventures most often combine her curiosity for cultures of the world with her passions for mountaineering, backcountry skiing, mountain biking, kite boarding and trekking.

Her professional life as a senior field geologist with the Bureau of Reclamation over the last 15 years, has led her to expand her skills to include mapping bedrock profiles for iconic structures, such as Hoover and Glen Canyon dams, as well as becoming one of the Upper Colorado Region’s lead Rope Access Technicians.

Recently, between her travels and extended work shifts in the field, Rachelle has been spending more time in the Lake Tahoe area, immersing herself in the world class backcountry skiing, rock climbing and mountain biking available here. Rachelle is an avid reader who always has at least one novel queued up “on deck” with her travel friendly Kindle. Although she enjoys a wide range of genres, she is a sucker for non-fiction, history, and she is especially fond of stories about human challenge, adventure and wanderlust.

West with the Night

In 1936, Beryl Markham flew her airplane across the Atlantic becoming the first person to fly solo East to West. Surprisingly, her flight is just a small piece of the greater journey of her life. She grew up hunting with tribesmen in Africa, became a bush pilot in the remote regions of Africa, all before, professionally training racehorses for the Kenya Derby and flying with her companion throughout the middle east and Mediterranean. West with the Night is Beryl Markham’s vivid memoir of these experiences as she weaves beautifully descriptive accounts of her travels, adventures, human connections, and personal discovery into a journey filled with inspiration and wonder.

West with the Night embraces the timeless antiquity and romanticism of early Africa, new advancements in flight, and the remarkable achievements of a young woman amongst a conservative generation. Markham’s writing is wonderfully captivating and evokes a spectrum of emotion throughout her book. She can make your heart race from the anticipation of events as they unfold or take your breath away through poetic descriptions between land and sky.

Conquistadors of the Useless

Conquistadors of the Useless is a must read, mountaineering classic written by Lionel Terray, one of the early alpinists and a mountaineering culture legend. His book is an account of traveling and establishing first ascents in the Alps, Alaska, Andes, and the Himalaya. Terray accomplished these remarkable conquests in the highest reaches of the world, while simultaneously fighting as a mountain soldier for the French resistance, becoming a professional skier and eventually establishing himself as a world renown professional mountain guide.

Terray’s writing captures the authenticity and historical relevance of the mountaineering culture during World War II and the post-war era in Europe, as he highlights the influence of optimism that mountaineering brought to the world during such a poignant time in history. His book is boundless in discovery and personal reflections of alpinism, war, and the human drive for exploration in unfamiliar and uninhabitable places. Terray’s story brings together a technical and historical account of alpine exploration combined with philosophical enlightenment and insight that is sure to engage any reader, regardless of their interest in climbing. Conquistadors of the Useless is a true gem of mountaineering literature that embraces the enchantment of alpine exploration in a bygone era.

Ryan Salm turns athletes into superheroes, transforms boring articles into virtual adventures, and molds ordinary houses into architectural masterpieces…all with the help of his magical camera. Ryan Salm might only be the 37th best photographer living in the Lake Tahoe Basin, but he tells better stories than all the rest. See why at or @ryansalmphotography on Instagram.

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu

Abdel Kader Haidara journeyed through the Sahara Desert trying to both locate and salvage generations of Islamic texts and manuscripts that were crumbling in the trunks of desert shepherds. His goal was to preserve this crucial part of the world’s patrimony in a gorgeous library. His crazy journey got even harder when Al Qaeda took over Mali and banned books.

Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape

A stunning exploration of the unknown regions of the Arctic. From its mesmerizing aurora borealis to the frozen seas, musk oxen, polar bears, narwhal, and other exotic beasts of the region, there is endless opportunity to be awed.
Living in Tahoe, especially during the winter, resonates with my childhood memories of growing up in Sweden. This winter, 2023, we were all immersed in both an awesome and humbling level of snow; snow that has been hanging freestyle off of our deck railing and took on the shape of a big white whale. The white walls created an isolation from the road and neighbors.

As an artist, a lot of my artwork is inspired by and involves the sculptural qualities of snow. This year, I was frequently interrupted and I had to put down the paintbrush and pick up a shovel. Skiing has been a reward for all the shoveling, not to mention the time with family, friends, and to collaborate with other artists. Esteban Villa and Jose Montoya (CSUS professors) opened the door for me to community art. As an immigrant, it has allowed me to be part of a vibrant society, teaching art projects in schools and painting murals with youth.

Rough-Hewn Land

Some years ago, we went down to Sorensen in Hope Valley to attend a geology presentation and field trip to Carson Peak (and it’s plutons — super hard knobs on top of Kirkwood’s persisting erosion). Because of that trip, I immediately related to this quote from the book:

“The center of the Nevadaplano sagged like stretched pizza dough to become the Great Basin, while the Nevadaplano’s western flank tilted upward like the rising end of a seesaw to become the Sierra Nevada.”

It is incredible to think that these faults are active! The author specifically shares his love of the Genoa fault, where he could find bits of granite from the Sierra Nevada in the soft crumbled soil. The words in the book are illustrative (for example, “crashed beer can”), and the author does a great job at utilizing pictures and drawings to further illustrate his points.

The Darkness Manifesto

In The Darkness Manifesto, the author Johan Eklof brings us on a global journey that even transcends into our universe.

While it feels easy to grasp the ways weather moves across our planet, I am amazed by how connected plates and land masses are from one end to the other. When you stand out in the aromatic Great Basin of Nevada, the basin is still stretching and affecting the land west and eastward all the way to Salt Lake City. The Rockies keep growing too! There is a constant pushing on the ground creating this movement and change. The book is a helpful interpretation of what meets the eye in the incredible land out West.

It also reminds us that natural light is vital for our well being and for all beings. The author wants us to become aware of the darkness, protect it, preserve it in our surroundings — and to learn about the importance of darkness for animals and plants. For example, changing natural light patterns with electricity, especially white light, can be disruptive for insects, birds, fish, and animals. Ultimately, nocturnal animals get their dating messed up when we interfere with natural light! As I have learned this, I try to shield the light, particularly at migration time.

There are benefits to being more aware of natural light in our own lives as well. If you can wait to turn on your lights in the evening, the rods in your eyes can acclimate to dusk’s delicate colors to experience the beauty. Not to mention all of the hormonal benefits! I would imagine that backpackers agree with the benefit of natural light — just spend some time outdoors at dusk to have that realization yourself.

Sometime in the early 2000’s, Dave realized that snowboarding was a much smarter means of alpine descent than rappelling, and he hasn’t bored out a v-thread since. While he is a huge fan of the classic terrain in Tahoe and Yosemite, Dave also enjoys “checking out new zones” and has led over a dozen expeditions to China, including the first snowboard descent of the 7,000 meter Koskulak in the Xinjiang Himalaya. Dave is also a builder and a photographer, and will easily be located lingering around the beer counter at the next Alpenglow Speaker Series.

Lonesome Dove

Pulitzer Prize­ winning Lonesome Dove is the quintessential novel of the American Wild West. The story revolves around the relationship between two retired Texas Rangers and their raw adventures driving a cattle herd from Texas to Montana. The novel explores themes of old age, death, unrequited love, and friendship, while examining the sacrifices made by those who chose a life of adventure over convention. An especially fitting book for those traveling to the Greater Yellowstone region who are looking for an entertaining read.


From the author who brought us Shogun, a book about the warrior class of Japan, comes Tai-Pan. Tai-Pan is James Clavell’s epic novel about early Western trade interests in China, tall-ship opium running, and the subsequent establishment of Hong Kong as a British colony in the 1840s. The books from Clavell’s Asian Saga are all excellent choices for expeditions or extended road trips. I highly recommend Tai-Pan for those interested in the Middle Kingdom.

Laura Read is a freelance writer focused on the genres of culture, science and travel stories. She works with the San Francisco Chronicle, National Geographic Traveler, MIT Technology Review,and The Furrow, among other publications. Recently, she’s been the opinion editor for the North Tahoe-based Moonshine Ink. She edited “Wolfdale’s Cuisine Unique'' cookbook and the book, “My Life Giving the World a Lift.” A Nordic skier, mountain biker and stand up paddleboarder, she lives in Tahoe City with her husband, Doug, and her dog, Wheeler. Her website is

Between Two Kingdoms

This is the story of a young woman fighting leukemia, including going through a stem cell transplant (also called bone marrow), just as my husband did in 2018. She then travels the U.S. by campervan to visit all the people who wrote to her during her recovery.

The Guest: A Backroads Journey by Bicycle

This is a rollicking story written by an Australian about his cycling trip from Vancouver to El Salvador. He's so funny! His writing is a joy and so are his perspectives about the places he goes and the people he meets.

The Art of Pilgrimage: The Seeker’s Guide to Making Travel Sacred

Phil Cousineau is an established author and guide, and a very spiritual person. This book is a staple, a lovely meditation on what travel can bring us.

Peter is the founder and Executive Director of Gateway Mountain Center, a youth development organization headquartered in Truckee, innovating how youth learn, heal and thrive. He has enjoyed a 40-year career guiding people into mountain experiences and being an entrepreneur in embodied peak experience. He has traversed a trajectory from world-class climber, to Chief Guide of the Yosemite Mountaineering School, to founder of CityRock, the world's first full service climbing gym. Today, Peter is passionate about changing the system of care for youth in treatment for serious emotional disturbance and in recovery from complex trauma. Gateway's program, "Whole Hearts, Minds & Bodies" is the first Nature-Based, therapeutic program to achieve full service partner contracts with County Behavioral Health Departments and Certification as a Medi-Cal provider.

Awe: The New Science of Everyday Wonder and How it Can Transform Your Life

A perfect reason to wander and explore is to come upon landscapes, art works, or the inspiring goodness that humans are capable of (moral beauty). All of this to say that to travel is to experience something bigger than and beyond “ourselves”. This is the emotional experience of AWE. In this book psychologist Dacher Keltner goes from the geeky, how our bio-markers of stress respond to this experience, to the profoundly personal, how attending his brother's death was a transformative awe experience. In our work with high-need youth we have been fans of Keltner's work for years, often helping kids get into the space where AWE can happen for them.

The High Sierra: A Love Story

I was so taken with this book that I bought 14 copies as gifts right away (from local bookstores of course!). Robinson is well known as a Sci-Fi author, and it is said that in all of his stories the landscape is a main character. His vivid, layered descriptions of our beloved home mountain range moved my soul and made me yearn to get way way back there. His wanderings are impressive. Since 1970, he has managed to fit in multiple backpacking trips every year, usually off trail into the remotest of high basins. I couldn’t read it without having Cal-Topo open on my computer to check out where each spot was.

Hey there, I'm Renée Lewis. I teach 3rd grade in Tahoe City, CA. I've always been drawn to kids, and I'm lucky enough to be able to inspire and educate them in the classroom. They bring incredible joy to my day to day life. I grew up in Vermont and now enjoy all the things Tahoe offers including hiking, biking, skiing, and camping. When I’m not home, I visit the Spanish speaking world as frequently as possible, rejuvenating my soul each time I go. I'm fascinated by cultures beyond my own and find great fulfillment in seeking new experiences in foreign lands.

Travels with Willie: Adventure Cyclist

Willie Weir has spent his life on and off bicycles. He is an advocate for traveling by bicycle as a way to slow down and take in what otherwise can easily pass you by. He also advocates for social and environmental change through cycling and other means. This silly, charming, first hand account of long distance touring will have you either fantasizing about your first long distance bike pedal or asking yourself how to get back on the open road again. This book will leave you yearning for social connections and reminding you to appreciate life’s simplicities.

“Travel now. Get on your dumpy, used bike and go somewhere, anywhere. Those people who tell you that it doesn’t get easier. They’re right.”

Turn Right at Machu Picchu

If you’ve ever been/are interested in visiting Machu Picchu or the majestic sacred Valley, then this book will speak to you. Author Mark Adams retraces the path that Hiram Bingham III took on July 24, 1911 when he was led by an 11 year old Quechan speaking boy to the “discovery” of the epic ruins of Machu Picchu. Adams uses personal connections to recreate a trip that reaches entirely beyond his comfort zone, while providing a comical and fascinating portrayal of the remote lands that surround the Inca Trail. Hopefully this book will captivate you enough to want to explore the incredible history and landscapes of the Lost City for yourself.

Wes Berkshir is a recovering derelict who is still refusing to let go of the title, “ski bum”, even though he can afford better beer than PBR (which he still drinks with relative frequency) and can no longer fit all of his worldly possessions in the back of his Subaru. His current professional goal is to convince other grown adults that he too is “responsible” and “mature”. He currently resides in a small house on the snowiest street in South Lake Tahoe, teaches high school English through his native tongues of sarcasm and mostly-good-natured ridicule, and tries to spend as many waking hours outside as possible. When school isn’t in session you can find him on a long-haul flight to anywhere fun.

The Temporary European

As travel kingpin Rick Steves’ right-hand man, Cameron Hewitt spends months every year across the pond. While most of that travel is in a professional capacity, his experiences and outlooks remain everyman-ish. He’s not snobby, nor pretentious, and it’s clear that he’s no more talented or skilled than you or I. In The Temporary European, Hewitt pulls back the curtain on the world of guided tours and travel guidebooks, but he also extols readers to travel independently, consciously, and to strive to be a “cultural chameleon”. He tells relatable stories from his many years and countries of expertise, and he does so humbly, with a goal of enhancing his readers’ personal adventures through genuine local connections in the places they visit. You can’t help but want to follow in his footsteps, living like a local, and straying forcefully from the well-beaten tourist track.

The High Sierra: A Love Story

The biggest draw with The High Sierra: A Love Story is that it’s local. It’s our backyard. So much adventure to be had within a tank of gas from home. Kim Stanley Robinson’s ode to our mountains is like a Swiss Army Knife, and one of the good ones at that. One that weighs about seven pounds and has everything from a knife and bottle opener to an ice axe and water purifier. It’s part loving confession to the mass of rocks, formed over eons, that we all choose to live in, part armchair travel, and part travel/trail guide and trip planner for seemingly every inch of the Sierra.

Robinson has likely spent more time in the Sierra than you and his commitment to our home mountains is impressive. This ethos is clear in his vivid descriptions of his myriad of adventures over the years, as well as the passion evident in his voice. You’d be forgiven for thinking The High Sierra: A Love Story was a soulless, glossy coffee table book, at first glance banking its reputation on the kind of epic pictures we see in our own homes and local businesses. But, it’s so much more. If you’ve spent time deep in the Sierra, you’ll recognize some of Robinson’s vignettes, and yet you’re still bound to find some trail or corner of a map that you’ve never heard of and now want to visit.

I am a 29 year old professional big mountain skier from South Lake Tahoe. This year, I placed 2nd on the Freeride World Tour. I am also a climate advocate, the CEO of Tahoe Climate Change Action Network and work full-time as a land use planner for Exline and Company, Inc.. In the off season, I love to climb and mountain bike with my dog, Chossy.

Breaking Trail

Arlene Blum is a legendary trailblazer by any measure. Defying the climbing establishment of the 1970s, she led the first teams of women on successful ascents of Mt. McKinley and Annapurna, and was the first American woman to attempt Mt. Everest. In her long, adventurous career, she has played a leading role in more than twenty expeditions and forged a place for women in the perilous arena of high-altitude mountaineering. Breaking Trail is the story of Blum's journey from her overprotected youth in Chicago to the tops of some of the highest peaks on Earth. Chronicling a life of extraordinary personal and professional achievement, Blum's intimate and inspiring memoir explores how her childhood fueled her need to climb -- and how, in turn, her climbing liberated her from her childhood.

Tracking the Wild Coomba

This book tells the true story of Doug Coombs, arguably the greatest big mountain skier to ever slide down snow. Author Robert Cocuzzo experiences Coombs's story himself by traveling to mountains around the world, skiing some of the runs he skied, meeting his friends and family, and living in the towns and villages where he made his home. The result is a gripping adventure story.

Jason has been, among other things, the book buyer here at Alpenglow Sports for the last 5 years and the inspiration behind the community book event. He is antipodean by nature, yet has called Tahoe 'home' for the last 20 years. Always ready to go for a ski, swim or bike in a new location and often looking for an excuse to do so. As his page turns to a new chapter in his life, Jason would like to take the opportunity to thank the local community that has been so fun to play with over these past few decades.

The Wind in the Willows

“Take the Adventure, heed the call, now ere the irrevocable moment passes!’ ‘Tis but a banging of the door behind you, a blithesome step forward, and you are out of the old life and into the new! Then some day, some day long hence, jog home here if you will, when the cup has been drained and the play has been played, and sit down by your quiet river with a store of goodly memories for company.” As a young boy I had my mother read and reread this passage to me over and over again. And even now, many decades later, this page continues to tug at something deep down inside that yearns to be satisfied.

The Monk of Mohka

A riveting story from the onset that is both tangible in its opening proximity to life here and yet capable of instantly whisking the reader away to locations most of us have never even dreamed of considering, into scenarios that are simply beyond most western comprehension. Even when the underlying connection is so universally loved.