When we can’t actually get away from work or school to travel and explore, we satisfy our wanderlust with the adventures of others. As I’m currently living in a city working a full time office job, I have taken to reading books to keep me connected to the outside (that and writing this blog).
Each month, I’m going to be recommending a few books that I’ve found to be particularly interesting/intriguing/wonderful. To start things off, this month I have four recommendations. I’d classify these as Modern Outdoor Adventure Classics because they’re all relatively new books (all of the authors are currently living, that is) but I’d consider them to be classics in that they touch on universal experiences like fear and challenge, excitement and triumph. Oh and they’re all nonfiction – these people really did these things! Enjoy!
In Wild, Cheryl life has just about hit rock bottom. Her family had been torn apart, her marriage was falling apart, and she was dangerously close to a heroin addition. Then, with no experience and very little guidance, she made the impromptu decision to hike the Pacific Crest Trail for four months alone.
I stumbled upon this book unexpectedly when I was cleaning out a shed one summer. I’d never heard anything about it or the Pacific Crest Trail, but I liked the book cover so I started reading. And I really enjoyed the book! If you don’t know anything about camping, it will give you some confidence that it’s never too late to fall in love with hiking. If you do know camping, you’ll appreciate Cheryl’s descriptions of pain and perseverance on the trail. What’s beautiful about Wild is that it goes beyond just another trip report. In the book, Cheryl tackles her demons throughout the hike and overcomes many of the barriers that had existed in her mind.
It’s possible you’ve already seen the movie Into the Wild, but I’d still urge you to read the book. I actually read the book after I’d seen the movie and found the book to be significantly better. If you haven’t read or seen it and you have no idea what it’s about, here is a quick summary.
Into the Wild is the story of Chris McCandless. Fed up with the commercialism and lack of authenticity in society, he donates all of his possessions, abandons his family and hitchhikes his way to Alaska. Both the movie and book are emotionally moving, however the book provides more context. Plus, Jon Krakauer draws a parallel between the reckless decisions both he and Chris made in their young lives, and how luck worked out in one person’s favour, but not the other.
This book will surprise you in many ways. Blair Braverman is a tough girl in love with the North. She lived in Norway and Alaska, working with sled dogs and guiding on glaciers. The story is exciting in nature, but also confronts the fears of living in extreme environments and sexism in adventure guiding, to name a few. Also Blair is a total badass and it’s an entertaining read. It’s one of those can’t-put-it-down books.
In this book, Adam Shoalts sets out the paddle an unnamed river in the Hudson Bay Lowlands that has no record of ever being paddled. Without a map, anything can lie beyond the river bend (say, a 20 ft. waterfall) and I can only imagine the courage it takes to paddle not knowing what you’re in for.
I’d highly recommend this book to anyone who loves canoeing, but even if you don’t you may find it sparks a desire in you to go paddling (or never get in a boat again).
I hope these help you find a little adventure in your day-to-day life, even if it’s living vicariously through someone else! If you end up reading any of these books, let me know what you thought of it.
Disclaimer: The book titles are Amazon links and if you click on them and end up making a purchase, a tiny percent get’s kicked back to me (at no cost to you), which helps cover the cost of my domain name. But if you’re anti-affiliate links (and I wouldn’t blame you if you were) you can also just Google the book title in another tab to check it out.