PsychoverticalAndy Kirkpatrick Hutchinson, £18.99:This is Andy Kirkpatrick's account of his solo ascent of Reticent Wall on El Capitan in California, considered one of the world's toughest rock-climbing challenges.
Around this core, Kirkpatrick builds an autobiography that takes him from the grim inner-city bleakness of his childhood in the English city of Hull to the soaring solitude of scaling some of the planet's toughest peaks. Throughout the book, Kirkpatrick never shies from the terror and self-doubt that seem to foreshadow his every move, and the daunting psychological and physical tasks he sets himself are always in danger of smothering him. But it is his wit and an effusive enthusiasm for climbing and travelling to regions totally inaccessible to the average punter that make this so readable. The man seems to have an insatiable appetite for putting himself in preposterous danger, which rewards the armchair reader very nicely.
Time Out, £12.99
And from the most rugged part of California we move to perhaps the wildest: the megatropolis of Los Angeles. The charms of the City of Angels are largely of the modern variety, and this guide has no qualms with embracing them to the hilt: it is packed with recommendations for glistening hotels and restaurants, the hottest clubs and achingly hip bars, though given that this is the spiritual home of celebrity, it's hard to judge how long their lustre will last. There is perhaps a lack of cultural atmosphere in this guide, though admittedly this probably says more about the city than the book, but there's plenty of information on where to see the stars of stage and screen - dead or alive.