I am a firm believer that a book should be on every adventurer’s packing list. Maybe it’s a physical book, maybe it’s an audiobook, maybe it’s a guide book, maybe it’s a e-book. Just don’t forget the book. Why? Because books, whether audio or physical, give us a connection to another world. It also gives me something to when I’m traveling or just chilling at camp.
Personally, I depend quite heavily on audiobooks. This is partly due to space, but mostly due to the fact I can listen to an audiobook in places I can’t read a physical book. I get annoyingly motion sick so reading on any moving vehicle is out of the quesiton. Yup, that includes cars, buses, trains and ferries. Audiobooks, on the other hand, are a great option in these settings! I use the Libby App [available on Google Play and Apple] to get access to audiobooks via my local library. Libby allows you to check out books from anywhere you have service. It also auto-returns books so you’ll never get a late fee.
Regardless of where you get your books you will need to make a decision…what book will you choose?! There are millions of books out there, so where do you even begin? I find this to be incredibly overwhelming. My final choice heavily depends upon recommendations. I recently asked the @adventurefeetfirst followers what their favorite books were. The list below is what they came up with, along with a few of my favorites.
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Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube: Chasing Fear and Finding Home in the Great White North
Author: Blair Braverman
By the time Blair Braverman was eighteen, she had left her home in California, moved to arctic Norway to learn to drive sled dogs, and found work as a tour guide on a glacier in Alaska. Determined to carve out a life as a “tough girl”—a young woman who confronts danger without apology—she slowly developed the strength and resilience the landscape demanded of her.
Who doesn’t love a good memoir style book about taking on the wilderness? This book falls into the same category as Sixty Meters to Anywhere, Walden on Wheels, Thirst: 2600 Miles to Home and Unbound: A Story of Snow and Self Discovery.
Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country
Author: Pam Houston
On her 120-acre homestead high in the Colorado Rockies, beloved writer Pam Houston learns what it means to care for a piece of land and the creatures on it. Houston’s ranch becomes her sanctuary, a place where she discovers how the natural world has mothered and healed her after a childhood of parental abuse and neglect. In a work as lucid and invigorating as mountain air, Deep Creek delivers Houston’s most profound meditations yet on how “to live simultaneously inside the wonder and the grief . . . to love the damaged world and do what I can to help it thrive.”
When Women Were Birds: Fifty-Four Variations on Voice
Author: Terry Tempest Williams
Terry Tempest Williams’s mother told her: “I am leaving you all my journals, but you must promise me you won’t look at them until after I’m gone. They were exactly where she said they would be: three shelves of beautiful cloth-bound books . . . I opened the first journal. It was empty. I opened the second journal. It was empty. I opened the third. It too was empty . . . Shelf after shelf after shelf, all of my mother’s journals were blank.” What did Williams’s mother mean by that? In fifty-four chapters that unfold like a series of yoga poses, each with its own logic and beauty, Williams creates a lyrical and caring meditation of the mystery of her mother’s journals. When Women Were Birds is a kaleidoscope that keeps turning around the question “What does it mean to have a voice?”
This is an unofficial sequel to Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place. Both seem to be great reads if you’re interested in history and the aftermath of atomic bomb testing in Nevada. Similar books by other authors include
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption
Author: Lauren Hillenbrand
On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.
I have read a lot of WWII books and this one is high on my “to read” list [it’s currently on hold at the library]. It sounds to be similar to The Tuscan Child, The Nightingale and All the Light We Cannot See [all of which I highly recommend].
High Achiever: The Incredible True Story of One Addict’s Double Life
Author: Tiffany Jenkins
A few years ago, Tiffany Jenkins was detoxing behind bars at a Florida prison, incarcerated on 20 felony charges. Now, she’s clean and sober, a married mother of three. As she found her way in her new life, she started sharing on social media as an outlet for her depression and anxiety.
Another book on my list! It falls into the general genre of The Glass Castle, Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction and The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath in the sense that you get a new perspective on a very personal life experience.
Author: Emma Donoghue
To five-year-old-Jack, Room is the world. . . . It’s where he was born, it’s where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits. Room is home to Jack, but to Ma it’s the prison where she has been held for seven years.
This book is an amazing display of creativity from the writing and perspective from a five year old. It is non-fiction with a bit of a fantasy feel [due to the fact it is told from the POV of a child], similar to The Lovely Bones, The Fault in Our Stars and Water for Elephants.
The Sound of Gravel: A Memoir
Author: Ruth Wariner
Ruth Wariner was the thirty-ninth of her father’s forty-two children. Growing up on a farm in rural Mexico, where authorities turned a blind eye to the practices of her community, Ruth lives in a ramshackle house without indoor plumbing or electricity. At church, preachers teach that God will punish the wicked by destroying the world and that women can only ascend to Heaven by entering into polygamous marriages and giving birth to as many children as possible. After Ruth’s father—the man who had been the founding prophet of the colony—is brutally murdered by his brother in a bid for church power, her mother remarries, becoming the second wife of another faithful congregant.
This one of those books that really get you thinking about the lives other people are leading…enduring, really. It is similar to Educated: A Memoir as well as fictional books The Great Alone and Where the Crawdads Sing.
The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
This is a young adult, fictional book tells the story of racism and racial injustice from the eyes of a teenager. It offers a raw perspective of what it is like to live with the racial tension in today’s world. Similar books that create conversation around racism and racial injustice include White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness and So You Want to Talk About Race.
Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things
Author: Jenny Lawson
In Furiously Happy, a humor memoir tinged with just enough tragedy and pathos to make it worthwhile, Jenny Lawson examines her own experience with severe depression and a host of other conditions, and explains how it has led her to live life to the fullest: “I’ve often thought that people with severe depression have developed such a well for experiencing extreme emotion that they might be able to experience extreme joy in a way that ‘normal people’ also might never understand. And that’s what Furiously Happy is all about.”
Technically, this is a memoir…but it felt more like a humorous self-help book. It takes on some of the stigma around mental health and provides some indirect suggestions about deal with life. All while being hilarious [I laughed out loud and have listened to this book multiple times — highly recommend it as an audiobook]. Similar self-help style books with a similar humorous spin include The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counter-intuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened and Calm the F*ck Down: How to Control What You Can and Accept What You Can’t So You Can Stop Freaking Out and Get On With Your Life [hello, genre of incredibly long book titles!].
Scrappy Little Nobody
Author: Anna Kendrick
With her razor-sharp wit, Anna recounts the absurdities she’s experienced on her way to and from the heart of pop culture as only she can—from her unusual path to the performing arts (Vanilla Ice and baggy neon pants may have played a role) to her double life as a middle-school student who also starred on Broadway to her initial “dating experiments” (including only liking boys who didn’t like her back) to reviewing a binder full of butt doubles to her struggle to live like an adult woman instead of a perpetual “man-child.”
I may have a massive girl crush on Anna Kendrick…and that was before I listened to this book. It’s entertaining and gives you a peek into the life of a normal girl turns movie star. It is similar to these entertainingly awesome memoirs: Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between), Yes Please and The Last Black Unicorn.
Of course, this is the just a tiny portion of all the books out there and writing up this list got me really excited about reading [and listening to] more books. I have pulled together all the books recommended via Instagram as well as some from my own lists. You can find this list on GoodReads — AFF Book Recommendations. You don’t need to be a user of GoodReads to access the list, although I do recommend GoodReads for keeping track of what you have read [and what you want to read, for the next time you’re aimlessly roaming a bookstore].
If you have a favorite book or a book you’re excited to start reading please comment. I really want to keep growing this list! You can comment on this article or you can pop over to Instagram or Facebook to shoot me a message.