It's hard to decide what this book is and why it's enjoyable. Chris Becker has done a wide-ranging research job in Death in the West: Fatal Stories From America's Last Frontier.
He's searching for stories about people who have died - or come close to it - in the outdoors in Colorado and all the way west to the ocean.
It's not a how-to-escape book like Bear Grylls' "Man Versus Wild" television show, though it certainly offers advice.
Besides the stories, Becker rates comparative dangers.
For example, brown recluse spiders and hot-air balloons are not as dangerous as you might think. Nor are wild animals in Yosemite National Park.
"The only person ever killed in Yosemite by a wild animal was killed by a mule deer," the book reads.
He adds that a serial killer once polished off four times that many victims in the park within a couple of days.
Becker doesn't even list Colorado as a state that has brown recluses, adding, "In fact, one family of four, in a study run by Rick Vetter of UC Riverside, lived with upwards of two thousand brown recluses in a Kansas home. That family never registered so much as one bite."
Intriguing to wonder why they decided to live with all those spiders.
Maybe the reason the book is such an interesting read, even for someone who doesn't like crime, adventure or death stories, is that Becker picks such unusual ones.
Most of the stories end badly, but in the final chapter, "Just Enough Luck: They Shouldn't Be Alive," he describes the wondrous Lauren Elder, a not-terribly-fit city dweller from San Francisco.
When the small plane she was riding in crashed somewhere in the Sierra Nevada in April 1976, the pilot and the other passenger died almost instantly, leaving Elder alone with a broken arm wearing high-heeled boots, a little skirt and nothing that could resemble a warm garment.
She made it back to civilization after a 36-hour hike down a frozen mountain and a side trip to go swimming.
"She devised a method of moving down the icy cliffs she faced, side-walking down on all fours and punching herself hand and toe holds through the sheet of surface ice."
As for wildfire disasters, our own Missionary Ridge Fire doesn't make the book.
Most of the ones Becker covers are in California.
"Living in fire country today is like having a grizzly bear hibernate in your backyard: It's a thrill, but at some point, the bear wakes up," he writes.
Besides the little-known stories, Becker reprises some of the huge disasters such as the Big Thompson Flood in which 145 people died.
It was Colorado's deadliest disaster, a flash flood down a slot canyon between Estes Park and Loveland, where 2,500 to 3,500 people were hanging out for the day after the state celebrated its centennial.
Route 34 was washed away entirely, as were 418 houses and 52 businesses while the riverbed deepened by 10 feet.
Becker supplies plenty of helpful tips, such as 10 items to keep with you and a dozen precautions to take for safety's sake, jammed up against stories of seasoned adventurers who made a wrong move or went mad or just had bad luck.
Against all the odds, Becker, an Arizona author writing his fourth book here, provides an entertaining read.
And, who knows, memories of the book may even save someone in trouble one day.
He finishes: "The human race is capable of a lot of things, but maybe the thing we're best at is moving on and forward, even to uncertain destinations. Despite the terrible things that sometimes happen to us along the way - even those things that spell the end of the line - we manage to proceed. People keep climbing mountains, exploring caves and skiing avalanche-prone slopes. And they keep going into the desert with too little water, wandering into the backcountry without a map, and flying higher than their license gives them permission to. And most of them come back to tell the rest of us all about it."