So you want to climb soooo badly you have reduced the holy trinity of a rope, a rack and the shirt on your back to… maybe a shirt. And maybe not even that: cut to local hardman ripping off his tee to reveal six pack abs, while screaming at the ladies now exiting the bar, "Someone call a doctor 'cause these puppies are sick!"
For your more sober moments, we suggest beginning and intermediate boulder benders pick up a copy of Bouldering: Movement, Tactics and Problem Solving by Peter Beal. Another in the depressingly consistently high quality – hey, it's depressing if you're a sarcastic writer – Mountaineers Outdoor Experts series.
Bouldering has the full range of experience that defines any true branch of climbing, from quick and easy low exposure traverse problems with moves in the single digits, to nasty nun-caught-you-with-porn-in-church scary highballs that are basically free solos. Beal does it all justice, starting it off right with a history of bouldering ("hold my beer…") and a quick survey of gear (shoes, chalk, brushes, pad, <sarcasm> but definitely NOT a helmet, because that is NOT cool </sarcasm>). The meat of the book is in the two chapters on movement and tactics, 90 solid pages with a lot of good advice – much of it applicable to other forms of climbing – on hand and foot work, body position, resting, breathing, falling, spotting and a lot more.
There are personal stories by important boulderers scattered throughout, musing on the philosophy of bouldering, specific routes and the woman's perspective on its development. The final three chapters cover training and injury prevention, competition, and age related issues. With all the philosophizing I felt the section on mental training, barely more than a page, could have been vastly expanded, perhaps pulling in material briefly referenced elsewhere in the book. Still, if you're looking to get into bouldering or want to step up your game, Beal's book should be on your shelf and in your head.