Book Review – I Conquered Kilimanjaro… Nearly by Mike Reiss

First published, 2015

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What happens when an unfit, middle-aged man tries to climb the tallest mountain in Africa when it wasn’t exactly his idea?

In their twenty-six years of marriage, Mike Reiss and his wife have travelled to more than ninety countries, including Iraq, Iran, North Korea, both the Poles and Tanzania.

Now, this short travel story is a little dark. Right in the beginning, the couple appears to determine holiday destinations by watching the news. If there’s been a disaster which has led to fatalities, they book tickets – because there will be space in the hotels.

If you can get past that, the writing is funny and approachable. I loved Mr. Reiss’s examination of the park register’s ledger and his realisation that everybody else who’d made an attempt on the mountain had been in their teens or twenties. Except for one elderly guy of 33, they were all very young. Reading the ledger, Mr. Reiss was 55.

“Fog permanently sits around the base of Kilimanjaro. Unlike me, it knows better than to climb it.”
From Day 2, I Conquered Kilimanjaro… Nearly by Mike Reiss

On day five of his six day trek comes the line – “This is the worst day of my life, beating out the previous record-holder: yesterday.”
From Day 5, I Conquered Kilimanjaro… Nearly by Mike Reiss

Alone, in my house, I laughed a lot.