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Into the Planet: My Life as a Cave Diver

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From one of the world’s most renowned cave divers, a firsthand account of exploring the earth’s final frontier: the hidden depths of our oceans and the sunken caves inside our planet More people have died exploring underwater caves than climbing Mount Everest, and we know more about deep space than we do about the depths of our oceans. From one of the top cave divers wor From one of the world’s most renowned cave divers, a firsthand account of exploring the earth’s final frontier: the hidden depths of our oceans and the sunken caves inside our planet More people have died exploring underwater caves than climbing Mount Everest, and we know more about deep space than we do about the depths of our oceans. From one of the top cave divers working today—and one of the very few women in her field—Into the Planet blends science, adventure, and memoir to bring readers face-to-face with the terror and beauty of earth’s remaining unknowns and the extremes of human capability. Jill Heinerth—the first person in history to dive deep into an Antarctic iceberg and leader of a team that discovered the ancient watery remains of Mayan civilizations—has descended farther into the inner depths of our planet than any other woman. She takes us into the harrowing split-second decisions that determine whether a diver makes it back to safety, the prejudices that prevent women from pursuing careers underwater, and her endeavor to recover a fallen friend’s body from the confines of a cave. But there’s beauty beyond the danger of diving, and while Heinerth swims beneath our feet in the lifeblood of our planet, she works with biologists discovering new species, physicists tracking climate change, and hydrogeologists examining our finite freshwater reserves.   Written with hair-raising intensity, Into the Planet is the first book to deliver an intimate account of cave diving, transporting readers deep into inner space, where fear must be reconciled and a mission’s success balances between knowing one’s limits and pushing the envelope of human endurance.


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From one of the world’s most renowned cave divers, a firsthand account of exploring the earth’s final frontier: the hidden depths of our oceans and the sunken caves inside our planet More people have died exploring underwater caves than climbing Mount Everest, and we know more about deep space than we do about the depths of our oceans. From one of the top cave divers wor From one of the world’s most renowned cave divers, a firsthand account of exploring the earth’s final frontier: the hidden depths of our oceans and the sunken caves inside our planet More people have died exploring underwater caves than climbing Mount Everest, and we know more about deep space than we do about the depths of our oceans. From one of the top cave divers working today—and one of the very few women in her field—Into the Planet blends science, adventure, and memoir to bring readers face-to-face with the terror and beauty of earth’s remaining unknowns and the extremes of human capability. Jill Heinerth—the first person in history to dive deep into an Antarctic iceberg and leader of a team that discovered the ancient watery remains of Mayan civilizations—has descended farther into the inner depths of our planet than any other woman. She takes us into the harrowing split-second decisions that determine whether a diver makes it back to safety, the prejudices that prevent women from pursuing careers underwater, and her endeavor to recover a fallen friend’s body from the confines of a cave. But there’s beauty beyond the danger of diving, and while Heinerth swims beneath our feet in the lifeblood of our planet, she works with biologists discovering new species, physicists tracking climate change, and hydrogeologists examining our finite freshwater reserves.   Written with hair-raising intensity, Into the Planet is the first book to deliver an intimate account of cave diving, transporting readers deep into inner space, where fear must be reconciled and a mission’s success balances between knowing one’s limits and pushing the envelope of human endurance.

30 review for Into the Planet: My Life as a Cave Diver

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sophie

    Heard a super interesting interview with her on NPR, now I'm curious to read this!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    "I will take you on an uncomfortable rendezvous with fear. You will feel cold and claustrophobic when you read this book. But I challenge you to recognize the humanity in that sensation of terror you're experiencing. I encourage you to accept that you are an explorer like me." Before reading Into the Planet, I knew very little about cave diving. As an avid Nat Geo reader, I have seen some incredible photos taken in remote caves, but I had absolutely no idea of the technique, training, and skill that l "I will take you on an uncomfortable rendezvous with fear. You will feel cold and claustrophobic when you read this book. But I challenge you to recognize the humanity in that sensation of terror you're experiencing. I encourage you to accept that you are an explorer like me." Before reading Into the Planet, I knew very little about cave diving. As an avid Nat Geo reader, I have seen some incredible photos taken in remote caves, but I had absolutely no idea of the technique, training, and skill that lies behind those photos until I read this book. Jill Heinerth's story had me hooked from the very beginning. The prologue opens with a harrowing scene set in the middle of an iceberg and then transitions back to her earlier years in the first chapter. The story touches on her introduction to cave diving, follows her major diving expeditions, and highlights some of her best diving stories. Throughout the book, Heinerth also weaves a subtle reminder of the importance of water and its protection and conservation. This book is my favorite non-fiction read of the year so far! I absolutely loved it. Heinerth's prose is beautiful. She artfully transported me to the underwater caves as she retold her diving experiences, which are fascinating, exhilarating, and even terrifying at times. The pacing worked well. There weren't too many flashbacks and I never felt lost. I also appreciated her explanations of the technical side of diving. It wasn't complicated, but it was enough that I understood what was going on and why certain things happened. If I had any criticism at all, it might be that the last part of the book doesn't seem as cohesive as the rest of the book, but it was no less captivating than any other part. Heinerth will no doubt inspire a new generation of cave divers with her memoir, but for me, it confirmed that I am definitely too claustrophobic to take up cave diving. Nonetheless, I still loved the opportunity to journey along with Heinerth and explore some of the deepest parts of the earth through her eyes. I will definitely re-visit this book again in the future! A huge thanks to Jill Heinerth, HarperCollins Publishers, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this lovely book!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Krista

    When we transcend the fear of failure and terror of the unknown, we are all capable of great things, personally and as a society. We might not always know where the journey will lead us. We might feel a burden of difficulty, but all paths lead to discovery. Both good and bad life events contribute to the fabric of who we are as individuals and as a civilization. If we continue to trek purposefully toward our dreams, into the planet and beyond, we just might achieve the impossible. Jill Heinert When we transcend the fear of failure and terror of the unknown, we are all capable of great things, personally and as a society. We might not always know where the journey will lead us. We might feel a burden of difficulty, but all paths lead to discovery. Both good and bad life events contribute to the fabric of who we are as individuals and as a civilization. If we continue to trek purposefully toward our dreams, into the planet and beyond, we just might achieve the impossible. Jill Heinerth seems to have led a life of trekking purposefully toward her dreams, and despite personal sacrifices and the constant risk of mortal danger, she has built an enviable career as a cave diver and explorer, as an advanced trainer of technical diving, and as a filmmaker and writer. Part memoir, part chronicle of modern cave diving and the evolving science that allows humans to go deeper and for longer on these dangerous dives, Into the Planet is an often thrilling and always interesting book about an extreme sport and an extreme life. [Note: I read an ARC and passages quoted may not be in their final forms.] The archway of ice above our heads is furrowed like the surface of a golf ball, carved by the hand of the sea. Iridescent blue, Wedgwood, azure, cerulean, cobalt, and pastel robin's egg meld with chalk and silvery alabaster. The ice is vibrant, bright, and at the same time ghostly, shadowy. The beauty contradicts the danger. We are the first people to cave dive inside an iceberg. And we may not live to tell the story. The book opens with a prologue set inside the iceberg known as B-15 – a large chunk of Antarctica that broke off in the year 2000, and at the time that Heinerth and two others made several unprecedented dives into its interior, it was the largest free-floating object on Earth – and right from the beginning, the storytelling is thrilling and beautifully wrought. The narrative then rewinds to Heinerth's childhood and early adult experiences, and still, it's all fascinating. When the young professional decides to leave her life and her career as the co-owner of a Toronto-based graphic design firm in order to become a dive instructor in the Caribbean, her journeys into the planet begin in earnest. As every major expedition that Heinreth and her co-divers propose require sponsors and fundraising before the fact, it's interesting to see how she eventually uses her expertise in graphic design and photography to create the brochures and promotional materials that make the eventual dives possible (and then to see how she develops her love of underwater photography into groundbreaking filmmaking). The stories of the major dives that follow are worthy of any fictional adventure novel, but I have to admit that I wasn't as interested in the parallel story of the author's strained marriage to fellow diver Paul Heinreth (but can't ultimately fault her for putting this large part of her life into her own memoir). I was intrigued by the additional pressures that the author faced as one of the few women in her field, and acknowledge that it must have been horrible to be a pioneer at the dawn of the internet, before most of us knew to ignore the trolls. As the story of an adventuresome life, this is all good stuff. If you cave dive long enough, you will eventually face the death of a friend. Worse, you may even recover the body of one, or hold them as their life force ebbs. In those moments, your life will be changed forever. Back then, in Huaulta, I was new enough to cave diving and exploration that I had not yet lost a close friend. In my gut, I knew that if I were going to participate in extreme endeavors like this expedition, my days of innocence were numbered. There is quite a bit about the dangers involved in trying to dive deeper and longer than anyone has before; cave diving seems to be an extremely competitive endeavor and Heinreth knows that every time she swims into the unknown she not only risks her own life but the peace and mental security of those she might leave behind; and particularly the peace and mental security of those of her friends who might be called upon to recover her lifeless body if she fails to resurface on her own. Heinreth explains that she has the “7R” gene (that causes people to seek the dopamine rush of novel situations), but unlike those who participate in extreme “sports” for the thrills alone, Heinreth stresses the scientific knowledge that her dives have provided – and especially those dives that trace the surprising sources and underground pathways of drinking water – and that does seem to legitimise her endeavors beyond the “because it's there” ethos. Overall, this is the story of a large life, and it's told well. I'm glad to have gotten to know Jill Heinreth and I wish her success and safety in the future.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    I expected much more. This is mostly about Heinerth's experiences on other people's cave diving expeditions, especially Bill Stone's projects. Bill Stone has an excellent book himself, "Beyond the Deep: Deadly Descent into the World's Most Treacherous Cave," so I don't see a reason for reading this one. Beyond that, the writing is very average. There is way too much information about her relationships. I didn't expect to be reading about her frustrations with online dating, and swiping right or I expected much more. This is mostly about Heinerth's experiences on other people's cave diving expeditions, especially Bill Stone's projects. Bill Stone has an excellent book himself, "Beyond the Deep: Deadly Descent into the World's Most Treacherous Cave," so I don't see a reason for reading this one. Beyond that, the writing is very average. There is way too much information about her relationships. I didn't expect to be reading about her frustrations with online dating, and swiping right or left. It is neither interesting nor novel. I don't know if she has repressed impostor syndrome, but she is constantly pointing out what an amazing explorer she is. > We were on top of the world, and I was comfortable in my role as an exploration diver and felt I was an important asset to the success of the entire team. > In this wild and almost unimaginable situation, I continue to blossom in the purity of unhindered exploration. I’ll be afraid, but I’ll never concede. Stone didn't constantly write how great he is. He didn't have to, because his stories stood for themselves. She complains constantly, about everything from bugs to her husband to online trolls. I'm sympathetic to her about trolls, but don't think that either engaging with them or complaining about it in your memoir is at all productive. And she unfortunately undercuts herself; on one page she complains about others saying saying she didn't earn her way onto her husband's expedition, and on the next page she writes: > Not yet envisioning myself as capable of that level of advanced technical exploration diving, I first settled into a management and marketing role, bringing my artistic skills, photography, and technical background to the group. There are a few interesting stories here, but they are buried in a mess. > I was still too exhausted to communicate with Paul, who was sitting only five yards away at the fire. I wished he would sweep me up and make it all go away. Was our bond so weak that he could not even ask me what was wrong? … I wanted my indomitable French-Canadian husband to sweep me into his arms and make everything better.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Taryn Pierson

    Jill Heinerth is the Chris Traeger of diving. "It'll be fun! Well, it's more grueling than fun."

  6. 4 out of 5

    Katie - Girl About Library

    Thank you to the publisher and author for allowing me to read this book prior to publication in exchange for an honest review. 3.5 stars, rounding to 4 because GRs doesn’t believe in the power of half stars- full review to come!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Karyl

    When my husband was stationed in Hawaii, long before we were married, his main hobby was to go scuba diving. He and his friends would get off work, grab their gear, and enjoy the gorgeous underwater scenery. While I myself have never dived, his stories made some of the terminology in the book familiar, and I loved reading a book about one of his favorite interests. When one thinks of diving, one probably thinks of doing so in the sea, especially in the tropical areas, where the seas are clear tu When my husband was stationed in Hawaii, long before we were married, his main hobby was to go scuba diving. He and his friends would get off work, grab their gear, and enjoy the gorgeous underwater scenery. While I myself have never dived, his stories made some of the terminology in the book familiar, and I loved reading a book about one of his favorite interests. When one thinks of diving, one probably thinks of doing so in the sea, especially in the tropical areas, where the seas are clear turquoise and the wildlife abundant. But Heinerth chooses instead to dive in much less accessible places, places like inside of an iceberg in Antarctica, or deep inside a cave system in Mexico, places where a broken guide line could mean certain death. She dives not just for the thrill of it, but to show people how interconnected we all are, and to educate people about their earthly home. But as with any male-dominated profession, she has to work extra hard to make her colleagues recognize her worth. The stories of her dives are incredible. The photos she includes are absolutely stunning. I just wish there were sketches perhaps of some of her dives because I had a hard time imagining exactly what was happening, especially during her dives in Mexico and the ones in Antarctica. This book is highly recommended for anyone who loves to armchair travel to the most exotic of locations.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Onceinabluemoon

    4.5 rounding up. This book was fascinating, but unsettling, I had a gambit of emotions. I found the author off putting, but her accomplishments astounding. Loved the photos, always entranced at others bravery, but something about her didn't sit well with me. Despite my negative edge, well worth reading, to see how the wild ones live and thrive.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    Jill Heinerth is an exceptional diver who has pushed to make a place for women in a what is often a macho, elitist sport. She periodically shows that she’s adopted that elitism as a personal value, for example, claiming her experiences of Antarctica are superior, “There is simply no comparison between a carefully managed tourist experience and the real threats and discomfort we endured on our crossing,” where an egalitarian person would have chosen to embrace shared experiences and values. Or, i Jill Heinerth is an exceptional diver who has pushed to make a place for women in a what is often a macho, elitist sport. She periodically shows that she’s adopted that elitism as a personal value, for example, claiming her experiences of Antarctica are superior, “There is simply no comparison between a carefully managed tourist experience and the real threats and discomfort we endured on our crossing,” where an egalitarian person would have chosen to embrace shared experiences and values. Or, in another example, literally dedicating a chapter to claiming her genetics as an explanation for her success as an explorer. Even without this elitist vein distancing the author from the reader, the writing is uneven and choppy. Heinerths’ dive experiences are exceptional and the photos in the book are spectacular. But, it could have been much better.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Doriana Bisegna

    I attended Jill Heinerth's presentation of her work and life. Her talk was mesmerizing and so I bought the book. In order to truly appreciate the depths that she goes to (excuse the pun) to describe her life as a cave diver, you really need to see the visuals. That's where the book didn't satisfy my curiosity. It's fine to read about her explorations and discoveries but could one imagine what the moon looked like has we not seen the footage of their voyage? It's kind of the same thing with this I attended Jill Heinerth's presentation of her work and life. Her talk was mesmerizing and so I bought the book. In order to truly appreciate the depths that she goes to (excuse the pun) to describe her life as a cave diver, you really need to see the visuals. That's where the book didn't satisfy my curiosity. It's fine to read about her explorations and discoveries but could one imagine what the moon looked like has we not seen the footage of their voyage? It's kind of the same thing with this book. This doesn't take away from the accomplishments of this amazing woman. As a reader, it's difficult for the mind to imagine what it has never seen.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    I found this rather boring.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    Heinerth's memoir of her life as a cave diver rocks. Though I always love an adventurer/explorer books, the vulnerability Heinerth shows repeatedly throughout made it engaging. Her career and life's work are remarkable of their own accord, but her talents as a writer, in crafting and shaping her own personal narrative, kept me reading.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Wes Metz

    There are people who are obsessed with activities that are outrageously (I am tempted to say "insanely") dangerous. I've watched a man free-climb El Capitan. I've seen wing-suited daredevils skim inches from the ground at 120 miles an hour. I've read about divers searching for artifacts at ocean depths where nitrogen narcosis and the bends are constant threats. None of them take greater risks than author Jill Heinerth. She dives in caves, the most unforgiving environment on earth. Equipment fail There are people who are obsessed with activities that are outrageously (I am tempted to say "insanely") dangerous. I've watched a man free-climb El Capitan. I've seen wing-suited daredevils skim inches from the ground at 120 miles an hour. I've read about divers searching for artifacts at ocean depths where nitrogen narcosis and the bends are constant threats. None of them take greater risks than author Jill Heinerth. She dives in caves, the most unforgiving environment on earth. Equipment failure can kill. Losing contact with the guideline can kill. Nitrogen narcosis, the bends, oxygen poisoning, hypothermia can kill. Heinerth and her companions face them all. Add to these challenges the possibility that the iceberg within which she dives may disintegrate at any moment. This book follows Heinerth's life as she is introduced to diving and becomes fascinated with exploring places never seen by human eyes. She is a woman in a man's world, and has to fight to gain the respect and recognition that comes easily to her male companions. She ultimately rises to the top of this riskiest profession. Her story is incredible, inspiring, and sometimes almost unbearably tense. Read it. You won't regret it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    YY

    3.5/5 stars.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey

    I was so sad to finish this book, the author Jill Heinerth is some force of nature. I greatly enjoyed it. I am now on the hunt for more (female) adventure writers, and to take a scuba trip!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tracy K

    I picked this up because I am a diver; I went cave diving once a long time ago, and I couldn't help but be intrigued by someone who does that over and over again. I expected some thrills, and Jill Heinerth delivered. I can't remember the last time a book had me on the edge like this. I knew she could easily fill a book with exciting dives alone; I wasn't expecting the book to be so personal, motivational, feminist, and conservationist. I think she created a story that will appeal to many beyond I picked this up because I am a diver; I went cave diving once a long time ago, and I couldn't help but be intrigued by someone who does that over and over again. I expected some thrills, and Jill Heinerth delivered. I can't remember the last time a book had me on the edge like this. I knew she could easily fill a book with exciting dives alone; I wasn't expecting the book to be so personal, motivational, feminist, and conservationist. I think she created a story that will appeal to many beyond divers and thrill-seekers. Read this for: descriptions of places most of us will never see; animal encounters both endearing and terrifying; a better understanding of our water resources and how it's all connected; a peek into the lives of people who risk everything - not just for thrills, but to better educate the rest of us and protect our planet; being a (feminist) woman in a male-dominated field; how she overcame whatever was hard or scary, whether that is a life-threatening situation, feeling stuck in her life, or a bad relationship; and reminders how giving it all up, doing what truly interests and excites you and living simply can have the greatest rewards. If those "Girrrrrrl, just do it" books that seem to be so popular these days don't do it for you (they don't for me), this might. This is totally lacking the sense of entitlement and shallowness that annoys me in those books, and I found it so much more inspiring and deeper and relevant. Jill Heinerth doesn't speak like she knows you or assuming we're all the same. Her goals are more about being content, decent, being a good friend or partner, and satisfying robust intellectual curiosity and need for adventures. She speaks like a person who knows herself and knows we all have different struggles, but struggles are struggles. She's not going to tell you to just get over it, but she'll make you think about the times in your life you were stronger and braver than you realized. She's most definitely not going to tell you to wash your face and do it, but she will tell you how she learned from past mistakes and moved on. She'll tell you how she did it despite the the criticism, misunderstanding, competition, needs and fears of others. She's not going to lie and tell you it's easy or that you might not find yourself leaving people behind. It may or may not be financially lucrative. She thinks maybe you can find some inspiration in her life, and if not, that's ok. She's gonna entertain and educate you either way.

  17. 5 out of 5

    EJR

    I think what she has done is amazing and interesting. I did not care for this book though. She comes off as very preachy and there are few descriptions of what cave diving is actually like? I expected it to be better/more.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kristine

    I found this fascinating, terrifying, and very well written. Cave diving?! Diving through icebergs? Sump diving two miles into the earth? Who would do this? Jill Heinerth is incredible. Read this to learn about rebreathers, exotic gas mixes, the bends, normalization of risk, and the DRD4-7R allele. Take journeys to Huautla, Antarctica, Wakulla, the Arctic, and more with Jill. Not only am I amazed by her adventures and photography, her writing is beautiful.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Taylor

    I won this book with Goodreads in exchange for an honest review. This book took me way longer than it should have to read. I originally wanted to read this book because it sounded interesting. It turns out it wasn't as interesting as I hoped. While reading about the amazing places Jill has dived was great, her description of all her equipment all the time was not my cup of tea.

  20. 4 out of 5

    pianogal

    I enjoyed this one for the most part, but there were sections that just left me flat. Also, I thought it was a little weird how much detail she went into with her first relationship/husband and almost included her second/current "Love of her Life" as an after thought. Not a job I could ever do. This one left me claustrophobic just reading it, much less actually doing these things. Um, no thank you.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lori Summers

    This memoir of the author's career as a cave diver was interesting. The writing was a little clumsy and overly earnest, but the tales of her experiences were amazing and sometimes harrowing. A pretty fast read; I found myself wishing I could see more imagery.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    I expected this book to be interesting and informative. I was pleasantly surprised to discover it was fast moving with sections of humor. A very enjoyable read.

  23. 4 out of 5

    sbtbkb

    This was a great book. It's often hard to relate to "thrill seekers" but the author did a great job of explaining why she continues to pursue this passion. I never thought much about cave diving but the writing was so superb that it made it accessible. I liked the parallel progression of her career and the sport of cave diving. The writing style was quite immersive

  24. 5 out of 5

    Chad Guarino

    Imagine a grueling, weeks long ship journey from New Zealand through the Roaring Forties, Furious Fifties, and Screaming Sixties, being tossed around like a cork in your bunk as the ship is buffeted by rogue waves and storms on your way to Antarctica. The ship lists dangerously, colleagues are seasick, and you have to cocoon yourself in your bunk just to avoid being thrown from it. Now imagine that this isn't even the most dangerous part of your mission: you still have to dive in the frigid anta Imagine a grueling, weeks long ship journey from New Zealand through the Roaring Forties, Furious Fifties, and Screaming Sixties, being tossed around like a cork in your bunk as the ship is buffeted by rogue waves and storms on your way to Antarctica. The ship lists dangerously, colleagues are seasick, and you have to cocoon yourself in your bunk just to avoid being thrown from it. Now imagine that this isn't even the most dangerous part of your mission: you still have to dive in the frigid antarctic waters looking for underwater caves in an iceberg. Jill Heinerth has lived through this, and a myriad other life threatening situations in her career as a cave diver. Into the Planet is her memoir of that career, from her decision to leave her desk job through the many dives and expeditions she's been a member of. Heinerth's writing is at its best when she's recalling her dives, which are full of sensory details and danger. Admittedly, my interest flagged a bit during the segments in between, especially those involved with the more "mundane" aspects of life, such as running a dive store or her prior career in advertising. It's obvious she lives for adventure and not the mundane, and this comes through loud and clear in her writing. Heinerth's career choice is a brave one, not only for the risk of death in any given dive, but also given the male dominated nature of diving. She details many troubling instances of sexism and judgment she's handled throughout her diving career, and her evolving ability to handle those situations. While I found it hard to connect with her extremely adventurous nature (a trait she attributes to the "7R Gene", ostensibly a wanderlust gene, albeit one I've never heard of. I'll take her word for it), I admired her perseverance in a field where she's seen so many friends and colleagues perish. This is a worthy memoir for the vicarious thrills, especially for those like myself who will most likely never cave dive. **I was given a copy of this book by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Harper Collins.**

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Overall, a good read and included some gorgeous photography, although I wished the book had focused more on cave diving and less on the author's relationship issues. I was glad to see I'm not the only one calling out how little we know about Earth compared to outer space: "Surprisingly, we know more about outer space than inner earth, and this is a problem." (Page 5). And I'm beginning to wonder about the fate of a species that is obviously willing to invest far more in outer space than in its h Overall, a good read and included some gorgeous photography, although I wished the book had focused more on cave diving and less on the author's relationship issues. I was glad to see I'm not the only one calling out how little we know about Earth compared to outer space: "Surprisingly, we know more about outer space than inner earth, and this is a problem." (Page 5). And I'm beginning to wonder about the fate of a species that is obviously willing to invest far more in outer space than in its home planet. This also unexpectedly intersected with The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession when it discussed the ghost orchid in the Fakahatchee strand. Jill Heinerth was on a team of divers filming a movie about the movement of water through Florida, and as part of it, they visited the Fakahatchee strand. I found this discussion of the orchid and its pollinating moth especially interesting: “The orchid’s tangled web of tubular roots clings to the bark of swampy vegetation, but can thrive only in the presence of a rare and unique fungus. Filtered sunlight activates the air root growth year-round, but the plant will only bloom in a nearly miraculous combination of events. For less than three weeks during peak mosquito season, if all goes according to plan, the giant sphinx moth will hover admiringly at the beautiful bloom, then unfurl its ten-inch-long proboscis and slap its tongue deep into the spur of the orchid. No other insect can reach the sweet and tempting nectar, yet somehow in the Fakahatchee, the hummingbird-sized giant sphinx had managed this year to pollinate seven blooms.” (Page 240). I wonder how many people who want the ghost orchid understand about the fungus. Because without the fungus, the whole scheme described in The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession would have crashed and burned.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

    An explorer, filmmaker, and cave diver Jill Heinerth in “Into the Planet” takes the reader on a journey of discovery as she explores the extraordinary beauty and wonder of the Earth’s oceans, diving into the dark vastness of its underwater caves. Routinely the lone woman in a male-dominated field she risks her life in pursuit of momentous discoveries and knowledge like “the sources of underwater pollution, life inside Antarctica’s icebergs; sinkholes; and skeletal remains of lost civilizations”. An explorer, filmmaker, and cave diver Jill Heinerth in “Into the Planet” takes the reader on a journey of discovery as she explores the extraordinary beauty and wonder of the Earth’s oceans, diving into the dark vastness of its underwater caves. Routinely the lone woman in a male-dominated field she risks her life in pursuit of momentous discoveries and knowledge like “the sources of underwater pollution, life inside Antarctica’s icebergs; sinkholes; and skeletal remains of lost civilizations”. Intensely personal with pictures from her youth, marriages, career and panoramic underwater shots, it is clear Jill Heinerth has had to learn to balance her fear and confidence in dives, struggled with the loss of friends and colleagues and dealt with the emotional roller coaster of a failing marriage; all which increased her personal growth. The power of this story which combines adventure and science in an engrossing memoir lies not only in Jill’s successes in her career and personal life but in the failures and losses as she, like her colleagues tackle challenges like equipment failure, the bends, hypothermia and oxygen poisoning. Although I felt the ending could have been tighter, “Into the Planet” is a page-turner from beginning to end, and a must - read for young women wanting to tackle non-conventional careers. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and thank Goodreads Giveaways and the author for my copy.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    I have read many tales of adventure—mountain climbing, desert crossing, jungle trekking, Arctic exploration, space travel—but never, until reading Into the Planet, have I thought “No way, no how, would I ever be caught dead doing that”. Actually, I would be caught dead because I would 100% perish. Jill Heinerth dives in caves—deep, dark, sometimes icy, always claustrophobic, uncharted caves. Think of the caves where the boys in Thailand were trapped and the remarkable global rescue ef I have read many tales of adventure—mountain climbing, desert crossing, jungle trekking, Arctic exploration, space travel—but never, until reading Into the Planet, have I thought “No way, no how, would I ever be caught dead doing that”. Actually, I would be caught dead because I would 100% perish. Jill Heinerth dives in caves—deep, dark, sometimes icy, always claustrophobic, uncharted caves. Think of the caves where the boys in Thailand were trapped and the remarkable global rescue effort. Multiply that by several orders of magnitude to understand the insanity of Heinerth’s cave diving efforts. Heinerth writes of danger and too-frequent death among the small community of cave divers, but the book doesn’t have a “look at me!” feel. Her stories are straightforward and technical, yet jaw dropping. She seems superhuman, which made me especially interested in her human side—her feelings growing up as a gangly, “big” girl, her marriage to a cave diver and the necessary difference between their underwater and on-land relationship as the marriage falters, her constant brushes with death (occasionally her own). I absolutely cannot identify with Jill Heinerth in the slightest. Can barely even say I admire her because I cannot fathom what it is to be her. But did I enjoy reading this book? Yes, I did. Glad it had pictures.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Howe

    "If I die, it will be in the most glorious place no one has ever seen." Strong words for the start of a memoir, but true to the danger and wonder of cave diving. Jill Heinerth is one of the most accomplished female cave divers on the planet, having worked for National Geographic, CBC, and the BBC. She has dived through volcanoes, under cities, and into iceberg caves. She is the eyes and hands for scientists researching geology, hydrology, and ancient humanity. Her memoir begins with t "If I die, it will be in the most glorious place no one has ever seen." Strong words for the start of a memoir, but true to the danger and wonder of cave diving. Jill Heinerth is one of the most accomplished female cave divers on the planet, having worked for National Geographic, CBC, and the BBC. She has dived through volcanoes, under cities, and into iceberg caves. She is the eyes and hands for scientists researching geology, hydrology, and ancient humanity. Her memoir begins with the first few caves and dives that captured her heart, and follows her life through caves, love, and loss. While Heinerth describes amazing adventures and exploration, she views them through the lens of how this career choice has effected her and those around her. She doesn't shy away from describing the costs, danger, and death associated with the sport, even as she describes its beauty. Her passion comes through clearly in her writing and made this an incredibly enjoyable book for someone who doesn't normally read memoirs. If you love adventure, adrenaline, and exploration you'll enjoy learning about her life.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kris Elliott

    I heard Jill interviewed on NPR and her story was captivating. She tells how she became an explorer, adventurer and cave diver. There was a definite "train wreck" effect to reading about Jill's dives into the water filled caves and springs all over the world. She successfully describes the difficulties and technique needed for these technical dives without being too nerdy. Jill writes about the highs and lows of being a cave diver, and is honest about the stress and fear of waiting for loved one I heard Jill interviewed on NPR and her story was captivating. She tells how she became an explorer, adventurer and cave diver. There was a definite "train wreck" effect to reading about Jill's dives into the water filled caves and springs all over the world. She successfully describes the difficulties and technique needed for these technical dives without being too nerdy. Jill writes about the highs and lows of being a cave diver, and is honest about the stress and fear of waiting for loved ones. I loved being able to read about these explorations because part of me admires someone who can take these risks. But, I also realize how close to death Jill and her colleagues are in most cases. The author's insight into her relationships and how they change over time is the most clumsy part of her narrative. She does stress the closeness of the diving community and the importance of trusting relationships. I am impressed that Jill had so many opportunities in what seems like a male dominated world. Several portions of the book will be used by my geography classes so they can read about the experience of sailing the Southern Ocean and diving in the waters around Antarctica.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kirsten

    [2019] My version of a Steven King novel, reading to be scared. A great introduction to one of the most dangerous and deadly activities in the world. The cave diving community seems to be a tale of two worlds. On the one hand, it was/is male-dominated, chauvinistic, competitive, and all about bravado and bragging rights. On the other, it’s collaboration, National Geographic documentaries, science and research, and surveying and mapping places deep underground that no one has ever gone before. Th [2019] My version of a Steven King novel, reading to be scared. A great introduction to one of the most dangerous and deadly activities in the world. The cave diving community seems to be a tale of two worlds. On the one hand, it was/is male-dominated, chauvinistic, competitive, and all about bravado and bragging rights. On the other, it’s collaboration, National Geographic documentaries, science and research, and surveying and mapping places deep underground that no one has ever gone before. The latter I expected; the former I didn't. The author focuses only key moments in her early life and diving career, not lingering on what I assume are hundreds of dives that go off without incident. She does a great job describing the fear, intensity, and beauty of cave diving, really takes you into the moment with her. Often very suspenseful. She includes an interesting section explaining why some people might seek out this sort of dangerous, thrill-seeking, live on the edge, life of adventure, and the rest of us go, Why? Why would you do that? (hint: the 7R gene).

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