Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship

Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship

4.5 184
by Tom Ryan

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After a close friend died of cancer, middle-aged, overweight, acrophobic newspaperman Tom Ryan decided to pay tribute to her in a most unorthodox manner. Ryan and his friend, miniature schnauzer Atticus M. Finch, would attempt to climb all forty-eight of New Hampshire’s four-thousand-foot peaks twice in one winter while raising money for charity. It was an


After a close friend died of cancer, middle-aged, overweight, acrophobic newspaperman Tom Ryan decided to pay tribute to her in a most unorthodox manner. Ryan and his friend, miniature schnauzer Atticus M. Finch, would attempt to climb all forty-eight of New Hampshire’s four-thousand-foot peaks twice in one winter while raising money for charity. It was an adventure of a lifetime, leading them across hundreds of miles and deep into an enchanting but dangerous winter wonderland. At the heart of the amazing journey was the extraordinary relationship they shared, one that blurred the line between man and dog.

Following Atticus is an unforgettable true saga of adventure, friendship, and the unlikeliest of family, as one remarkable animal opens the eyes and heart of a tough-as-nails newspaperman to the world’s beauty and its possibilities.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Journalist Ryan shares the heartwarming, surprisingly suspenseful story of his bond (and adventures) with his intrepid and loyal miniature schnauzer, Atticus Maxwell Finch. Mourning a friend who has recently died, Ryan decides to hike all 48 of the 4,000-foot peaks of the White Mountains twice in the 90 days of winter—with Atticus. Despite contracting Lyme disease, Ryan and his faithful companion embark on their journey and face a host of dangerous storms, fierce winds, and temperatures registering 30 degrees below zero. Their greatest challenge, however, arises not on a mountain but in the veterinarian’s office where it’s discovered that five-year-old Atticus has cataracts and presumed thyroid cancer and requires surgery. Through their love for the mountains they climb and their devotion to each other, along with some good luck, the pair are able to continue doing what they love the most—being together. Part adventure story, part memoir, but most important, a love story, this entertaining and joyous book proves that dog really is man’s best friend and vice versa. (Oct.)
Manchester Union Leader
“How can you go wrong with a cute little dog who braved the White Mountains’ highest peaks time and again…over the ice, snow and sometimes deadly uncertainty of wild winter altitude in New Hampshire? Far more than just a typical man–and–his–dog account…Ryan and Atticus have delivered on all counts.”
#2 New England Bestseller List
The Day (Connecticut)
“Need your faith in humanity restored? Read this book. It’s lovely to learn about our higher selves from an unlikely source like Atticus M. Finch.”
AMC Outdoors
“Not your standard mountain adventure book. . . . Reading Following Atticus can feel like taking a long walk, or a series of walks, with a great storyteller. Why ‘follow Atticus?’ Because, [Ryan says], ‘Dogs, like mountains, bring you back to yourself.’”
“Ryan . . . is an engaging storyteller whose humorous, self-deprecating descriptions evoke Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering American on the Appalachian Trail and John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley: In Search of America.”
Boston Globe
#5 Boston Globe bestseller
Library Journal
After getting five-pound puppy Atticus M. Finch, newspaper editor Ryan carried him around for a month. But they really bonded when, to raise money for charity after a friend died of cancer, Ryan set out with his dog to climb all 48 peaks over 4000 feet in New Hampshire's White Mountains—twice. Another heartwarming dog story (there can never be enough), with this one getting attention from national hiking clubs as well as Muttluks, which makes canine booties. With a 100,000-copy first printing.
Kirkus Reviews

Lyrical memoir of an adventurous New England journalist and his trusty canine companion.

Ryan spent many years single-handedly owning and operating the Undertoad, a newspaper covering the police and political beats (and their interrelated improprieties) in eccentric Newburyport, Mass. ("Norman Rockwell meets Alfred Hitchcock"). The author's journalistic exposure of local scandals didn't sit well with folks in power, however, and he feared violent retribution. Quelling his paranoia was the "commitment" of adopting an older miniature schnauzer. Sadly, his time with that pet lasted less than a year, but spurred him to adopt schnauzer pup Atticus Maxwell Finch. After a frustrating training period, Ryan and Atticus struck a harmonious human-animal rapport, a uniquely interactive relationship the author clearly reveled in. A few tastes of majestic New Hampshire mountain climbing with his brothers brought back fond memories of better days with his estranged father, a haunting presence throughout the memoir. That family hike challenged Ryan to scale all 48 of the White Mountain range's 4,000-foot peaks in 90 days with a dog Ryan fondly writes was "made for the mountains." The experience became therapeutic, transformative and spiritually enlightening for both. Without regret, Ryan retired the newspaper and, in honor of cancer victim Vicki Pearson, galvanized himself and Atticus to, again, hike the 48 peaks (twice!) as a cancer fundraiser. Rivetingly portrayed, both valiantly braved the vicious winter elements (Atticus in booties and bodysuit), but the dog's darker days were only just beginning. There's immense pathos in the frank depiction of the author's turbulent relationship with his father, both in describing his physical abuse as a youth or finding forgiveness in adulthood.

In befriending Atticus and carrying his father's memory to those serene mountain peaks, Ryan admits he discovered a rare peacefulness, a quality that underscores this touching chronicle.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Meet the Author

Tom Ryan served as publisher and editor of the Newburyport, Massachusetts, newspaper The Undertoad for more than a decade. In 2007 he sold the newspaper and moved to the White Mountains of New Hampshire with miniature schnauzer Atticus M. Finch. Over the last five years, Tom and Atticus have climbed more than 450 four-thousand-foot peaks.

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Following Atticus 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 183 reviews.
CoreysMomIL More than 1 year ago
This is not a man and his dog book. This is book of friendship between Atticus M Finch (a miniature Schnauzer) and Tom Ryan a writer. I had not made time to read a book in quite some time and a friend told me about the blog and Tom & Atticus on Facebook. Once I started reading the blog and then the advance chapters I was hooked. I laughed, cried and was amazed at the friendship between them. Little did Tom know how his life would change when he decided to climb the peaks of New Hampshire as a way to raise money for cancer in honor of a friend who passed away. Atticus joined Tom in climbing those peaks, only they did it in winter and they did it twice. No small feat as you will soon see. You will learn about Tom's childhood, family and his time in Newburyport as a writer of a small town newspaper. But most of all you will learn of the extraordinary friendship between Tom & Atticus and how Atticus led, Tom followed and how Tom changed his life. Trust me when I say we all need a little Atticus in our lives.
Christina_Tracey More than 1 year ago
This is definitely the best book I've read in a long, long time. Tom Ryan takes the reader on an achingly personal yet amazing journey with "Following Atticus". This is not just a typical dog memoir, and it's not just a story about the adversities of hiking the White Mountains of New Hampshire. This book shares with us wonderful life lessons taught by a little dog. live in the moment, be close to nature, reflect, persevere when things get tough, give selflessly, love unconditionally. Atticus gently leads Tom to discover his true self, and as Tom shares this story, the reader experiences all emotions encountered along the way. You will laugh out loud, you will shed tears, you will feel the exhilaration of triumph, and cheer for this unlikely pair. Tom writes in such a way that the reader can't help but feel a personal connection to his experiences. By the end of the book, Tom has changed... and the reader probably has too. This book couldn't come to us at a better time - in a world where we are constantly barraged with bad news and negativity, this book will remind the reader of all that is good and right and possible. Tom Ryan and Atticus are an inspiration, and we would all do well to follow them.
MaxMom15 More than 1 year ago
Even if you do not consider yourself a reader, get this book and read it. Tom Ryan is a wonderful storyteller, and his style is unique. He opens himself up in a way that makes the reader see and feel his experiences. Atticus, of course, "steals" the story. (I believe that Atticus is not a dog but an angel in dog's clothing.) You will be better for having read the story of how a little angel dog transformed the life of a crusty newspaperman to reveal the gentle giant of a man.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If Tom and Atticus were in my circle of friends, I would count myself fortunate. Their intuitive sense of each other is heart-warming and at times just plain funny. They are almost like an old married couple who cherish each other and want only to be in the company of the other. This will be on my list to give for Christmas this year. Kudos Tom Ryan. Keep on truckin' "Little Buddah".
WM-Hiker More than 1 year ago
Tom Ryan is one of the very few people who came to capture the magic of the White Mountains of NH, and actually did! People like Tom are far and few between. This is an incredible journey of a man and his dog, both of whom, without doubt, found their magic here in the White Mountains. Whether it's the mountains you enjoy, the hiking, the torment of sore feet, the enjoyment of the outdoors, the thought of following a little dog up some pretty big mountains against some substantial obstacles along the way, or just plain want to take an amazing journey with an incredible person named Tom and one incredible little dog named Atticus, this book is simply a must read. Be ready for a fun filled roller coaster ride of emotions that will have you finding it difficult to put this book down until you are completely finished. Enjoy this one. It's a keeper for certain.
McGuffyAnn More than 1 year ago
Atticus M. Finch is one very special little dog. He has taken many adventures with his lucky owner, author Tom Ryan. This book follows their adventures and their relationship, including hiking up ninety-six snow peaks in ninety days. To add to the challenge, it was winter, creating a trek of bitterly cold, snow-filled miles. As a journalist, Tom Ryan writes of the challenges and what essentially became a spiritual journey between man and dog. They bonded through a typical puppyhood of training, establishing a relationship of trust. Then they took it to the next level. Having grown up among the White Mountains of New Hampshire climbing the 48 peak range, Tom was inspired to do this with Atticus. When this becomes a transforming experience for Tom and Atticus, they repeat the feat as a fundraiser for cancer. Throughout the book are memories and recollections of Tom Ryan's difficult youth with his father. His relationship with Atticus and the journey they take together not only bonds them, but becomes a cathartic process for Tom. Atticus and his open, accepting nature becomes the catalyst for Tom's own personal journey finding forgiveness. Yes.our pets do that.
BigT73 More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing. From start to finish. Tom and Atticus take you on an adventure through their lives and the struggles many of us go through. I also was fortunate to get an advanced copy. I can't thank Tom enough for writing this book and sharing his life with us. I too connected on so many levels with Tom and Atticus and what they've dealt with. Do yourself a huge favor and buy this book. You won't be sorry!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read a lot, and this book I have told more people about than any in a LONG time. Love Tom's writing style. Not just a book about a man and his beloved dog, Atticus. For me it went much deeper than that. Truly a gem!
Heart2Heart More than 1 year ago
Middle-aged, and overweight, Tom Ryan and miniature schnauzer 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 while raising money for charity. In a rare test of endurance, 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... At the heart of this remarkable journey is an extraordinary relationship that blurs the line between man and dog, an indelible bond that began when Tom, following the advice on Atticus' breeder, carried the pup wherever he went for the first month of their life together. In his debut novel, Following Atticus, by Tom Ryan, 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 it's possibilities. It was a change that led to a new life among the mountains; an unforgettable saga of adventure, friendship, and the unlikeliest of family; and an inspiring tale of finding love and discovering your true self. I received this novel compliments of Harper Collins Publishers for my honest review and for anyone who has a deep admiration for pets and the remarkable chemistry that comes out when you are with your pet, you will find nothing but pure, unconditional love between Tom and Atticus. This just goes to show us all that nothing is impossible, it just needs to be attempted. He shows us all the unique ability of communication we have with the pets we love goes well beyond words we can understand, they have to be felt! I would rate this book a 5 out of 5 stars.
Terrier9 More than 1 year ago
Mr. Atticus M. Finch leads, and author and human companion, Tom Ryan follows. A must read to see what can be learned from the bond between Tom and Atticus, and the lessons taught by New Hampshire's White Mountains. This "memoir" has a lot to offer. Adorable and courageous dog, small town New England intrigue, the drama of winter hiking. Something for everyone, with a little extra for the literary minded dog lover. Can't say enough about this story from self deprecating, first time author.
docazoid More than 1 year ago
This is a very touching and worthwhile read... Anyone who is tired of the situations in the world this is a very comforting time out!!!! I hope this will be made into a movie. It has all the elements of a very good screen play!!... Especially the story being set in the mountains. We already own a copy and are planing to give two for gifts this year!! Thanks Tom and Atticus Carter & Stacy and Col Cooper our buddy!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just finished reading this book and I wish it would go on longer, I hated puting it down.such a great read it made me cry it made me laugh,and made me want to start following Atticus.
tutu4u More than 1 year ago
More than a book about a winsome little dog, Following Atticus is a paean to the beauty and soul-soothing effects of nature and an exploration of the mysteries of the heart.
MissSassie More than 1 year ago
I loved this book it made me laugh out loud and cry a few times. It is a book I didn't want to end. Finishing it was like leaving a good friend behind. A very heart warming story of a man and his dog and how they help each other through life and bring out the best in each other. I hope this is not Tom Ryan's last book I hope to read many more stories of he and Atticus M. Finch.
Texas_mini More than 1 year ago
I just finished reading following atticus and it was a book a truly had difficulty putting down. I found myself going through all of the ups and downs along with Tom and Atticus each time I opened the book. I was brought to tears at the love displayed between dog and owner. By chapter 3 I was also laughing to tears at the joys of raising a puppy who has a strong will. If you have ever loved a dog and known the unconditional love and spirits they share with us you will LOVE this book! It is worth every penny!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Here goes harriet klausner ruining another book with her excessive plot reveals. Between her and heart2heart, there is no need to buy the book. Stop ruining books fir other readers. It is rude and inconsiderate.
katgirlKB More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful story for those who have ever had a dog occupy a special spot in their heart as more than "just" a dog, and for those who recognize that we can best reflect on what is important when surrounded by the beauty and simplicty of the natural world. For anyone unfamiliar with the White Mountains of New Hampshire, after reading this book you will itch to head east and begin exploring. And if you follow Atticus and Tom Ryan on their "Following Atticus" Facebook page, and review the many photos and inspiring quotes posted there, you will make your travel plans tomorrow. Thank you for the reminder to "Follow your bliss!" -- life is too short to do otherwise.
LisaM88 More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful story! I'd love to have a little Atticus to take hiking and exploring. He's such a smart dog and seems to have a lot of soul. I love seeing the photos of him sitting on a mountaintop, gazing out at the beauty of nature. So glad I bought this.
WendyClark More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put this book down... which isn't something that happens often. This is NOT a dog book, nor a hiking book; it has so many different layers to it: family, friendship, loyalty, life. I laughed, then cried, then cheered! And I was truly sorry to turn the last page of Following Atticus. Give this a read - you won't be sorry.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My neighbor recommended this book since i have new puppy. It is an interestimg book but probably would be enjoyed most by dog lovers. My only criticism is that sometimes the author gets a little "gushy" while describing the scenery
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thank you Tom & Atticus, for sharing your story. It made me sad to turn the last page. I did not want to leave my friends. I hope you continue ro give us glimpse of your journey through life with your oh so sweet Atticus. I agree; a must read recomended. I plan on giving this bok to several of my friends & relatives. Doris in NH
PaulaClare More than 1 year ago
Following Atticus is the most heartfelt book I've read in a long, long time. Tom writes with the excitement and adventure of a mountain climber, the intensity of a historian and academic, the seedy intrigue and "back door politics" of a newspaper man, and the heart and soul of a dear friend. This is the account of two friends who push themselves and each other to become all they were intended to be... I did not want the story to glad Tom and Atticus have a blog so I can keep up with them even after the final page is read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you are an animal lover.......this book will touch your heart. If you are one that has ever felt closer to God while in the great outdoors....this book will touch your heart. I enjoyed every moment of this book from beginning to end. I finished it in two days. Tom Ryan has a way of writing that makes you feel you are right along with him on the ride of life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was an absolutely delightful read. Any one who has a dog that is a part of their family will fall in love with Atticus. Having lost our beloved dog a year ago, I found this book bringing that joy back into my life. Thank you Atticus.
JhillTX More than 1 year ago
Once you start reading about Tom and Atticus you will find it hard to put down. The love and friendship between them will warm your heart. They both became who they were meant to be. You will find yourself laughing, crying, and cheering them as they go through so much together. I honestly can say this is one of the best books I have ever read. Tom Ryan is a new author who will go far in his writings. Do your self a big favor and get this book. You will be glad you did.