Author: Heather Hansman
Reviewed by Chloe Fuksa, Putnam Six Bookstore
Powder Days is the second book from author Heather Hansman, following her debut Downriver, covering the water crisis in the American West. Powder Days isn’t an action-packed, adrenaline-rush of a ski book to inspire your next daredevil backcountry chute. Instead, it’s a deeper, fascinating look at the many different facets of the ski industry – while yes, still including many great skiing scenes throughout.
At its core, the book is a memoir, but Hansman uses those personal experiences as jumping off points for exploring a range of topics. She talks about the history of skiing, how the number of skiers boomed after World War II but has been flat since the mid-1970s. She talks about psychology and what makes the brains of thrill-seeking ski bums tick. She talks about the science of snow and how the changing climate will affect future ski seasons. She delves into the income inequality of ski towns, the housing crisis facing mountain staff, the consolidation of resorts, and so much more.
It certainly helps to have some understanding of skiing prior to reading this. The author often uses ski lingo and certainly doesn’t slow down for definitions or explanations. The writing style also takes a little bit to get used to. The goal might have been beautiful, lyrical prose, but it can come across as clunky and abrupt. It is a well-researched book though. Hansman drew from her own life, but also crossed the country – from New England to Big Sky to Jackson Hole to Aspen to Santa Fe – while talking with all sorts of people – from the ski patrol to the bartenders to the resort managers to the researchers. Overall, it really is a striking look at skiing – the past, present, and future – while still being a fun, entertaining read.
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