Camping sets the stage for a good story. You’ve removed yourself from the daily grind, and are free from structure and time. It’s as if you’re already sitting in the lounge chair with the fire stoked, waiting for someone to put a good book in your hand.
Don’t settle for any old book the next time you head out into the wilderness. If you don’t camp in the off-season, read these 10 must-read books; they’ll make you feel like you’re exploring the wilderness yourself.
Into the Wild
By Jon Krakauer
4.1 stars on Amazon; 3.85 stars on Goodreads
Follow Chris McCandless into the Alaskan wilderness on his deadly quest to disconnect from society and live off the land. In this true story, Krakauer retraces McCandless’ final moves and explores what may have motivated such a bright, young man to make such drastic decisions.
Between a Rock and a Hard Place
By Aron Ralston
3.9 stars on Amazon; 3.8 stars on Goodreads
This jaw-dropping story starts with a day hike and turns into a gripping tale of survival. While hiking through a Utah slot canyon, Ralston gets his arm pinned between a falling rock and the canyon wall. After six days of dehydration, hunger and hallucinations, he takes radical measures to free himself.
Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder
By Richard Louv
4.5 stars on Amazon; 3.95 stars on Goodreads
It’s no secret that kids spend less time outside. Louv not only outlines the factors that have led to a decreased exposure to the natural world, he also links this nature deficit to an increase in conditions such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, stress, depression, anxiety disorders and childhood obesity. On the flip side, he emphasizes the importance of reacquainting ourselves with nature as a way to “lessen the frequency and severity of emotional and mental ailments.”
If you’re at all interested in the impact of nature on the human psyche, this outdoor book is a must-read.
Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage
By Alfred Lansing
4.8 stars on Amazon; 4.31 stars on Goodreads
Quite possibly the most incredible survival story ever told; Endurance follows adventurer Ernest Shackleton and his crew of 27 men as they embark on a voyage to the South Pole that turns desperate when their ship gets stuck in the ice floes of the Antarctic seas. Through interviews, diaries and personal accounts, Lansing pieces together what it took for this heroic group of men to survive for more than a year in the most extreme climate on earth.
Once you start reading—adventurer or not—you won’t want to put this book down.
By Edward Abbey
4.5 stars on Amazon; 4.25 stars on Goodreads
If a desert wind has ever swept through you and captured a little piece of your soul, this book is a must-read. Abbey, who spent several seasons in Moab, Utah, peels back the dry landscape and takes you inside the heart of the American Southwest.
Travels With Charley: In Search of America
By John Steinbeck
4.3 stars on amazon; 4.02 stars on Goodreads
Take a trip on the back roads of America with a classic American writer. It’s as if Steinbeck himself invites you along for the ride as he paints one of the more intimate portraits of America in the ’60s.
The Man-Eaters of Tsavo
By John Henry Patterson
4.4 stars on Amazon; 3.9 stars on Goodreads
For a real-life thriller, dive into this true story of two lions that terrorized an entire railroad construction crew—killing nearly 100 workers—and the man who finally hunted them down. If you tend to look over your shoulder every time a twig snaps, this book might not be for you.
Climbing Free: My Life in the Vertical World
By Lynn Hill
4.1 stars on Amazon; 3.92 stars on Goodreads
This tale is a prerequisite read in the rock climbing community. However, Lynn Hill’s story will captivate even those who don’t climb. Hill, who fell in with an iconic group of climbers at a young age, reveals experiences and events from that time, which led her to become one of the best climbers in the world—male or female.
The Poisonwood Bible
By Barbara Kingsolver
4.2 stars on Amazon; 3.94 stars on Goodreads
For an epic journey, follow the Prices on a mission trip to the Congo that ends up testing more than just their faith. The wife of an evangelical Baptist and her four daughters all have a story to tell from this tumultuous time in postcolonial Africa.