How long do you scroll through the travels of others on Instagram before you’re racked with all the anxieties that get wrapped up with FOMO (fear of missing out)? Yet, you double-tap that perfect, posed, and edited photo with all the right hashtags and scroll on with your day. You first followed these people because they promised to inspire your sense of adventure—and now you’re just jealous!
Might I suggest a book? The right book can grab all of the attention it needs to tell you the story it has to give. The right book won’t leave you feeling like you’re missing out on something, but will leave you with the sensation of being there and having felt what the characters felt.
Just like with travel-thirsty Instagram accounts, there are endless books that can whet your appetite for adventure. Not sure where to start? Here’s are our top picks.
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
A tale of survival in the Canadian wilderness, Hatchet is one of Gary Paulsen’s most iconic books about the will to survive and the family that holds everything together. Paulsen has written several young adult novels detailing tales of survival that bring readers into the wilderness that surrounds the reality of his main character, Brian Robeson.
A Walk In The Woods by Bill Bryson
How does one get to know America again after living as an ex-pat in the UK for 20 years? Why not walk all 2,100 miles of the Appalachian Trail? That’s the premise of the non-fictional account A Walk In The Woods by Bill Bryson. Written in a humorist style, Bryson tells the story of the trail, it’s fragile existence and storied past, all while dragging his hilariously out of shape friend along with him.
Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
Edward Abbey made his break with the Monkey Wrench Gang—a story of a river trip that turns into a campaign against eco-terrorism. Before that were the years Abbey spent working for the National Parks Service as a Ranger in the wild west days of Arches National Monument. His anecdotes of the Utah wild paint a picture of threatened isolation as the “industrial complex machine” marches westward with paved highways, visitor centers, and all of the nice things that make civilization liveable, but the outdoors unbearable.
Finding Ultra by Rich Roll
A journey of the mind, body, and soul in the backdrop of remote Hawaiian Islands, Finding Ultra is the story of Rich Roll’s transformation from out-of-shape alcoholic to Ultra Runner and Ironman Champion. Taking the reader on a journey through his troubled past and into the challenges of running across the leeward desert sides of the five major Hawaiian islands, Finding Ultra is a journey worth taking.
The New American Road Trip Mixtape by Brendan Leonard
Today, Brendan Leonard is an accomplished writer who regularly contributes to the likes of Outside magazine, Backpacker, and Men’s Journal, as well as his website semi-rad.com. Before that came to light, his life imploded in such a way where the only necessary action was to load up his car and take to the highway, following the footprints of Kerouac and Steinbeck in search of the ultimate truths. All the while we are left with the ultimate question: what happens when your journey for answers leads to more questions?
Braving It: A Father, a Daughter, and an Unforgettable Journey into the Alaskan Wild by James Campbell
Here’s what you might not know about Alaska from the travel brochure: the weather is all over the place, the bugs fly in waves thick as wool, and if you wander too far off from your hotel room the “services” are few and far between. All of this is what James Campbell had to weigh while considering bringing his daughter along on a trip to help his cousin build a cabin in the Alaskan backcountry. Several months in—and with little more than a selection of tools and their wits of survival to protect them—Campbell ends up building much more than a cabin with his daughter.
Grand Adventures by Alastair Humphreys
When was the last time you had an adventure? That’s the premise behind everything Alastair Humphreys does. Building from Microadventures, Grand Adventures takes a look at all of the stuff that gets in the way of you and your next tour of self-discovery. No matter who you are or what your circumstances may be, if you want an adventure badly enough you will find a way to get it.
In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin
Published in 1977, In Patagonia is a pivotal text in the discipline of travel writing. What was then considered an “exotic and far-off land,” Chatwin catalogs his experience of traveling through the south of Chile and Argentina to the infamous land of Patagonia. His tales of climbing mountains and driving dangerous roads are dotted with run-ins against bandits and legends that Americans had created but long since forgotten.
On Trails: An Exploration by Robert Moor
Recipient of numerous awards, On Trails is a meditation that merely asks: what makes the path beneath our feet so significant? Why are some trails traveled more than others? How does the order of a trail emerge out of the chaos of a stampede? The foundation of the story lays during a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail but grows to consider every trail, path, road, or interstate around the world. From the topic to the style, this book is sure to enlighten the adventurer within.
Wanderlust: A History Of Walking by Rebecca Solnit
It’s more than a suggestion by your doctor; walking could be doing more for you than you had ever imagined. From health to politics, Solnit does a deep dive into creating a fascinating historical portrait around the potential for walking. Profiling the most significant walkers in history—from Wordsworth to Austen—Solnit draws the line between the act of walking and the power of thinking. In this world, when we are more dependent on cars and planes, a meditation on slowing down your pace and putting on walking shoes might be more critical than ever.
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