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6 Outdoor Books to Get You Hyped for Your Next Adventure

Updated: Sep 16, 2021

Book reading camping outdoors Crested Butte Colorado Paradise Divide, vagabond guru

Whether you are trying to fill some time at camp, taking a break at home between adventures or are looking for inspiration for your next trip, books are a great way to spend your time while learning more about the amazing world around us.

Here are 6 of my favorite books about the outdoors to get you excited about getting out there. Please buy from your local bookstore whenever possible, but I have provided links to the books below so you can read them for yourself!

1. Of Wolves and Men by Barry Lopez

(Courtesy Charles Scribner's Sons)

Published in 1978, this classic story details the complexity of Mankind’s relationship with the Wolf throughout histpry. Lopez explores our historical interrelation with one of the smartest animals on the planet. Throughout Of Wolves and Men, Lopez dispels modern myths on the Wolf as bloodthirsty beasts who howl at the full moon, investigates differences in Western vs Indigenous perspectives on wolves, explains the history of wolf eradication in North America and considers cultural focuses on this magnificent creature. This book will enchant anyone with an interest in animals, anthropology, mythology and history. Although it is a piece of nonfiction, the stories Lopez weaves together will leave even the heaviest fiction readers unable to put it down.

2. Buried in the Sky by Peter Zuckerman and Amanda Padoan

(Courtesy W. W. Norton & Company)

Karakoram 2 (aka ‘K2’) is the deadliest mountain in the world and was the last 8,000m peak to be climbed in winter earlier this year. In 2008, K2’s deadliest year, the fatality rate for those who attempted to summit from basecamp was 30.5%, or “higher than the casualty rate at Omaha Beach on D-Day.” This book tells the story of the deadliest day that year and the Sherpas who risked their lives to bring as many people down to safety as possible. My favorite part about this book is its focus on the true heroes of Himalayan high peaks: the Sherpas who carry all the gear and risk their lives, so that others (primarily Westerners) could have the glory of ascending this peak. Learn the story of Chiring, the Sherpa who was the only climber willing to risk his life to save another stranded Sherpa, despite only having one ice axe and a short piece of rope to tie them together. If you enjoyed ‘Into Thin Air’ this book is a must read.

3. The Last Season by Eric Blehm

(Courtesy Harper Perennial)

What happens when the man who is in charge of finding missing hikers in the backcountry disappears in the backcountry himself? This is the scenario that unfolds when legendary park ranger Randy Morgensen goes missing from his remote Sequoia-King’s Canyon ranger station in 1996. Part mystery novel and part biography of one of the most experienced rangers in the National Park Service, this novel will leave you tearing through its pages to answer its central question: What happened to Randy? Did he fall from a high place and hurt himself or was he attacked by a wild animal? Was he suicidal or did he fake his death in order to escape the expectations of modern society? If you are a devourer of murder mystery novels or simply want to read about the beauty of the Sierra Nevadas, might I recommend this fantastic read?

4. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

(Courtesy Anchor Books)

I would be remiss if I did not include this classic story of a young man who did not wish to grow up according to the expectations of society. In 1990, Chris McCandles graduated from college with honors and promptly donated his entire $24k bank account to charity, left his card abandoned on the side of the road, burned the money in his wallet and began his journey on foot to Alaska, where his dead body was found in an abandoned bus in August 1992. Krakauer is perhaps the greatest outdoor adventure author of our time and this book is both a eulogy and a testament to the life of Chris McCandles (aka Alexander Supertramp). If you have not read this book (or have only seen the movie), drop whatever you are doing and read this book right now. At only 192 pages, you might just read this book in one setting and hunger for more. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself simply reading it again.

5. The Overstory by Richard Powers

(Courtesy W. W. Norton & Company)

A testament to the long-living and largest organisms on the planets, Powers weaves together the lives of nine strangers to answer one question; “if the trees of this earth could speak, what would they tell us?” This beautifully haunting novel will have you looking at the trees in your yard from a totally new perspective. I recommend taking this book on your next camping trip, stay in a cabin or walk to your favorite backyard tree. This is my favorite book from the last few years and Hugh Jackman once said it is his most recommended book. The writing of Powers is sorrowful and poetic; it will move you.

6. Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy

(Courtesy Flatiron Books)

Set in the near future, Migrations follows a woman on a quest to follow the last arctic terns in the world on their journey from the Arctic Circle to Antarctica on their annual 18,000mi migration (the longest of any animal in the world). In this dystopian future, most of the wild animals in the world have gone extinct and the oceans are now devoid of fish. Perhaps we can learn something from its pages to avoid arriving at this point ourselves.

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Sep 03, 2021

Awesome list of books! Another great Jon Krakauer book is "Into Thin Air", although that one might not exactly make you excited to go hiking...

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