A middle-aged, overweight, and acrophobic newspaper editor Tom Ryan and a little dog, Atticus M. Finch, are an unlikely pair of mountaineers, but after a close friend dies of cancer, the two pay tribute to her by attempting to climb all forty-eight of New Hampshire's four-thousand-foot peaks twice in one winter. Tom and Atticus set out on an adventure of a lifetime that takes them across hundreds of miles and deep into an enchanting but dangerous winter wonderland. Little did they know that their most difficult test would lie ahead, after they returned home....
Following Atticus is ultimately a story of transformation: how a five-pound puppy pierced the heart of a tough-as-nails newspaperman, opening his eyes to the world's beauty and its possibilities. An unforgettable saga of adventure, friendship, and the unlikeliest of family, it's an inspiring tale of finding love and discovering your true self.
©2011 Tom Ryan (P)2011 HarperCollinsPublishers
I have never had so many people recommend a book to me as I have had this one. There's a reason. "Following Atticus" is about a middle-aged guy who hikes 4,000 footers in the White Mountains alone with his 20 pound Miniature Schnauzer. I am a middle-aged guy who hikes 4,000 footers in the White Mountains alone with my 20 pound Boston Terrier. Although a lot of people hike with dogs, one hardly ever sees 20 pound dogs on the high trails. In fact, one of the few I've ever seen is Atticus himself, whom I met hiking the Mount Caribou trail.
"Following Atticus" is a testament to truth being better than fiction. Dog lovers will all be captivated by the tale. But it's not a merely a dog book. It's a book of personal transformation on the part of the author. Some of that transformation is physical. You can look up photos of the author on the internet from his pre-Following Atticus days and compare them to recent photos to see this for yourself. Between the weight loss and the exercise, Tom Ryan looks like a different person. From "Following Atticus" we learn how the author became a different person on the inside, too -- a better person -- due to the influence of two great dogs in his life.
The book is read by the author. This adds to the reality of the story and conveys a sense of feeling that one would not get from a professional reader. The author does an excellent job of reading, but the listener should be prepared for a strong Boston accent.
There's a Youtube video trailer for the book, which I recommend for those who would like a glimpse of Atticus and Tom Ryan -- and the other great character of the book -- the White Mountains.
Following Atticus is a story about an extraordinary hiking partnership between a schnauzer, Atticus, and his owner, Tom Ryan -- With Atticus, Tom Ryan hikes 48 high peaks, 4000 footers in winter yet, and in doing so discovers what life should be about. This is one book that has a unique storyline! Atticus is the only miniature schnauzer to do the 48 peaks in winter and he attempted to do them twice in the winter which is amazing.
I really liked that when they both arrived at the top of a peak they would dedicate the peak to someone who had cancer, passed away from cancer or was fighting cancer. Whenever they arrived at the top of a peak, Atticus, being unique, would also sit quietly and look at the view.
Tom's performance was easy to listen too and I enjoyed that he, the author, was the one telling the story.
Even if my review is not the best since I have never really written one of these and I don't want to give too much of the story away, you should buy this book. You won't regret it if you love hiking, mountains, dogs and if you hate the rat race we all live in. Possibly it will inspire you to escape that race and take a chance to find what and who you really are.
There's always time for reading
As a NH resident and hiker, I've known about this book for awhile. I decided to download it because of its local interest, though I confess I had low expectations. I was surprisingly pleased. It is a fabulous book! While the book is, in part, like most "pet books" (a genre I usually avoid), it is also a book about a lost man who finds himself though the care and caring of one amazing animal. It is also about the power of community--how people come together to help, whether it is his readers in Newburyport MA, the hiking community, or Atticus-lovers from around the country. The author also writes much of his troubled relationship with his father and how, in his quest with Atticus, he comes to grips with his dad, and realizes that so much of what is important in his life he got from his father. The book is read by the author--and generally he does a good job. There are a few places where his Boston accent comes through pretty heavy, but, in my opinion, it lends to the story. Again, as a local author, his success with his book has been a news item in NH. My understanding is that it is in the Top 10 for New England Independent Book Publishers and has been selected for the local One Book/One Valley community read. If you liked "Marlie and Me," you will love "Following Atticus."
WOW !!! Tom Ryan had me totally captivated with his charming memoir of his life changing experiences with his little dog Atticus. I am hiker who has long abandoned my dreams of completing the NH 4000 footers and someone who always wanted a large dog only to have reluctantly accepted a small “yapper” named Chloe. Now, I am back on the trails again with a newly found enthusiasm and after listening to Tom describe his relationship with his little dog Atticus, I have given little Chloe another chance,I have gotten to know and understand her much better and I have come to love her. Though I really can’t see my dog on the trail with me, I have learned to truly enjoy her. Tom’s book has helped me to look again at many areas of my own life and to see it in such a different light.
I found the book fun to listen to, entertaining and yes …..moving.
Nice job Tom, if you are reading this !!!!
I can't wait for the sequel !!!
SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!
I was so thrilled with this book! I often get a hankering for a good animal story as usually they're so wonderful and inspirational. Following Atticus did not disappoint!
What I really liked about this book was that yes, it follows Tom and Atticus on their journey, but it also follows Tom as he discovers himself along the way and becomes who he's meant to be. And most of it is because of an adorable little dog, Atticus. (And I really love that one dog started it, Max, a dog that Tom was very leery of taking into his life but who radically changed it and showed him what true love is.)
This book is also about looking at the past, and realizing that people do the best that they can and that they are who they are. And Tom has to figure out how to love and forgive and live with the wounds that coming from a lonely family, living with an abusive and neglectful parent, have caused. Forget about climbing all those peaks, and those are great, but the real work is done in his heart.
I bought the kindle version of this also, and I'm very glad that I did because some of the prose is so lovely, so poetic, the descriptions and imagery are so beautiful and written with such insight that I'm looking forward to reading some passages over again. Truly well done.
This is a touching, wonderful book, well worth the listen, well worth the time. You'll love Atticus, you'll root for Tom. And you'll be tempted to check out their blog. I know, that's cheating, but I really can't wait for the next book!
There is nothing more LIVELY, ENERGETIC, OR LOVING than a mini schnauser!
The main character is very interesting. His insitefulness and caring are very endearing. The way the dogs eventually turn his life around completely was, in a way, that dogs often turn people's life around. Knowing the personality of the mini schnauser, I can completely understand how this happens.
It was the perfect voice for the character.
There are parts that make anyone laugh and cry. The touching part is the way the dog adapts to people and the outdoor wilderness. The same as my mini schnauser, who looks just the same as the picture on the cover, will adapt to any invironment he finds himself in.
He is happy just to "be" anywhere he is.
Could not put this book down!! I fell in love with it!
Enjoyed the overall concept and it was an inspiring story to hear of taking on those challenges and enjoying the various rewards from the hikes. Thing is, I started to get a little annoyed at just how much the author attributed extra ordinary powers of perception and understanding to Atticus. No I was enjoying it, I was done before the book was but I did stick it out. I would think the more you love dogs (have one, do, but short of Tom's intensity ) and pets the more you will buy into the full story.
Perhaps, in a few years. But I saw on the author's Facebook Page that he is working on a second book.
The story is about Atticus and you of course fall in love with Atticus, but the character I most enjoyed was Tom. It was, after all, his thoughts and insights that he confesses.
Yes -- Driving on a freeway to work I nearly went blurry-eyed with tears at one particular moment. My mother, who read it first, assured me that it would be ok.
Beautiful story. It's really special that the author is also the narrator. I would encourage anyone listening to it to seek out the Facebook Page or other photos (apparently photos accompany the book but since I listened to it, I didn't know that until afterwards).
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