There is no denying that a jaunt into the wilderness is made even better by bringing some great books along on the trail. Perfectly matched with a warm pair of slippers and a cozy campsite, here are some top picks to accompany you on your journey — once settled into the rhythm of adventure, you’ll find it easy to get whisked away by these immersive stories.
Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart
Carrot Quinn fears that she is becoming addicted to the internet. The city makes her feel numb, and she's having trouble connecting with others. In a desperate move, she breaks away from everything to walk 2,660 miles from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail. Carrot faces many challenges, both physical and emotional: pain, injury, blisters, aching cold, searing heat, dehydration, exhaustion, and loneliness. In the wilderness she becomes close with an eclectic group of strangers. She wouldn't have had a change to meet them in the "regular world" but they are brought together by their one common goal: make it to Canada before the snow falls.
Without A Map
Meredith Hall's memoir begins in 1965, when she becomes pregnant at sixteen. After being shunned by her conservative New Hampshire family and giving her baby up for adoption, Hall wanders recklessly through the unfamiliar Middle East where she survives by selling all of her possessions, including her own blood. After returning to New England, her lost son finds her and shares how he grew up in poverty with an abusive father. Their reunion is tender, turbulent, and ultimately redemptive. What sets Without a Map apart is the way in which loss and betrayal evolve into compassion, and compassion into wisdom.
Not only did John Muir explore the American West and write about its beauties, he also fought for their preservation. Collected are some of Muir's finest wilderness essays, ranging in subject matter from Alaska to Yellowstone, from Oregon to the High Sierra. This book is part of a series that celebrates the tradition of literary naturalists and writers who embrace the natural world as the setting for some of our most euphoric and serious experiences. Together, these books map the intimate connections between the human and the natural world.
Into the Wild
Immediately after graduating from college in 1991, Christopher McCandless roamed through the West and Southwest on a vision quest like those made by his heroes Jack London and John Muir. He gave his $25,000 savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Unencumbered by money and belongings, he felt free to wallow in the raw, unfiltered experiences that nature presented. Four months later, however, his body was found in an abandoned bus along Alaska's Stampede Trail. How McCandless lived and came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild.
Pure Land tells the tale of the most brutal murder in the history of the Grand Canyon and how Annette McGivney's quest to investigate the victim's life and death wound up guiding the author through her own life-threatening crisis. Tomomi Hanamure, a Japanese citizen who loved exploring the rugged wilderness of the American West, was stabbed on her birthday, May 8, 2006, as she hiked to Havasu Falls at the bottom of Grand Canyon. Her killer was an 18-year old Havasupai youth, Randy Redtail Wescogame. McGivney, the Southwest Editor for Backpacker magazine, covered the tragedy, which then unexpectedly triggered long-buried memories about the violent abuse she experienced as a child. It was her connection to Hanamure that helped McGivney find a way out of her own horror. On this journey, stretching from the southern tip of Japan to the bottom of Grand Canyon and into the ugliest aspects of human behavior, Pure Land offers proof of the healing power of nature and of the resiliency of the human spirit.