Top 13 Books for Travel and Adventure Lovers

Nothing offers an exciting escape from reality quite as well as books can. From fictional stories of fantastical adventures, to breathtaking memoirs that we can’t believe are based on true events- books  can offer us the world and take us outside of ourselves. They teach us about the human spirit, the beauty of the world around us, and the great unknown. They help us foster a sense of curiosity and adventure. Many of us here at Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation are avid readers, and we love our adventure stories!  Read on to see our staff and AmeriCorps members favorite travel and adventure books. Proceed with caution- these books may cause severe wanderlust!

 

 

Classic Literature/ Travelogue:

 

Travels with Charley: In Search of America

Written by: John Steinbeck 

Recommended by: Tyler Morris, Resource Development Coordinator 

 

Embarking on a journey to “discover'' America, author John Steinbeck said  “I, an American writer, writing about America, was working from memory, the memory is at best faulty… In short, I was writing of something I did not know about, and it seems to me that in a so-called writer this is criminal.” This travelogue takes you on a journey through 1960s America, as told through the eyes of one of the most significant writers of the 20th century. It’s an intimate and evocative story that will sate your wanderlust’s appetite right down to the last page. From the rural villages of Northern Maine, to the racially segregated south; Steinbeck paints a tumultuous, yet sympathetic picture of American society during the start of this cultural decade.

 

 

 

Roughing It

Written by: Mark Twain

Recommended by: Devin Genovese, Student Stewards Program Director

 

This book by Mark Twain chronicles his life and travels across the American west with his brother. With his signature wit and humor, he describes his different experiences traveling and working from town to town. He effortlessly balances between hard facts and zany anecdotes in this memoir/ travelogue.

 

 

 

Memoir:

 

 

A Walk in the Woods

Written by: Bill Bryson

Recommended by: Elena Larsen, Wetland Restoration Program Director

 

I love A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. Back in America after twenty years in Britain, Bill Bryson decided to reacquaint himself with his native country by walking the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Georgia to Maine. The AT offers an astonishing landscape of silent forests and sparkling lakes—and to a writer with the comic genius of Bill Bryson, it also provides endless opportunities to witness the majestic silliness of his fellow human beings. It's really funny and written in first person, which I'm a fan of for adventure books. 

 

 

 

 

Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

Written by: Elizabeth Tova Bailey

Recommended by: Anna Oetting, Naturalist Educator

 

 The book provides a glimpse into what can happen if we closely observe nature. Written by Elisabeth Bailey, the book focuses on Bailey's experience of being bedridden due to an illness. Bailey watches a wild snail that has taken up residence on her nightstand. As a result, she discovers the solace and sense of wonder that this mysterious creature brings and comes to a greater understanding of her own confined place in the world. It's probably a slower read, but it combines scientific background on snails and the author's personal observations and experiences. It's a pretty cute book and on the shorter side.

 

 

The Great Alone: Walking the Pacific Crest Trail

Written by: Tim Voors

Recommended by: Micah Beck, VISTA Leader

 

This was a memoir I really enjoyed about hiking the PCT. The stories and Voors' personal account of the trail were entertaining, the photos beautiful, and the information on hiking logistics super helpful. It was a quick read, and perfect for anyone that has a limited understanding of thru-hiking. It's inspired me to take a hike of my own, so plans post AmeriCorps service are in the works! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tracks

Written by: Robyn Davidson

Recommended by: Jill Katz, Wetland Restoration Technician 

 

Davidson tells her story of moving to Alice Springs in central Australia, learning to work with camels, to then travel to the west coast.  For nine months, Davidson traveled 1700 miles with her team of 4 camels and a dog across the Australian desert.  Davidson is introspective and tells her own story.  She is clear and raw: she doesn't embellish the story as anything grander than it was. 

 

This memoir is also a movie! Check out our Top 8 Movies to Cure Cabin Fever!

 

 

Survival/ Non-Fiction:

 

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Written by: Aron Ralston

Recommended by: Hannah King, Nature Study Area Development Coordinator

 

An autobiography by outdoorsman Aron Ralston, chronicling his life and all his incredible adventures. Not for the faint of heart, as his tale talks about his life or death experience that forced him to amputate his own arm in the backcountry. Emotional and motivational story about the will and power of survival. I recommend watching the movie 127 hours that was based on his story too!

 

This memoir is also a movie! Check out our Top 8 Movies to Cure Cabin Fever!

 

 

 

Into Thin Air

Written by: John Krakaeur

Recommended by: Alayna Wood, Communications Coordinator

 

This memoir is written by outdoor magazine writer/ journalist, John Krakaeur. He recounts his personal experience of the Everest climbing disaster in 1996, which resulted in the death of eight climbers. It leaves you in a mixture of both fascination and horror as he recounts every error in judgement and mistake that ultimately led to the greatest casualty rate on record (up to that point in time, at least.) It's a fascinating story that draws you in and doesn't let you go until the last page. 

 

 

 

 

Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why

Written by: Lawrence Gonzales

Recommended by: Jill Katz, Wetland Restoration Technician 

 

Gonzales tells true stories of many people caught in life-or-death situations in the wild.  Beyond the conditions people have been caught in, and the physical resources available to them, their attitudes, expectations, and perspectives on life have huge impacts on survival. Thankfully you won't feel like you're there, but the writing draws you in to keep turning the pages.

 

 

 

Historical/ Non-Fiction:

 

 

Playing God in Yellowstone

Written by: Alston Chase 

Recommended by: Emma Steer, Wetland Restoration Technician

 

This is a compelling non-fictional account about the management of Yellowstone National Park since it was first established all the way to modern times.  It covers the management of wildlife, specifically how the extinction of the Rocky Mountain gray wolf was brought about by decisions made by the park whose mission is to preserve our parks "unimpaired for future generations". The book also covers the environmental movement, and how issues that are more political than scientific are guiding the well-intentioned ideal, and ultimately how the destruction of nature is guised under conservationist motives.

  

 

 

Essential Muir: A Selection of John Muir's Best Writings​​

Edited with an Introduction by: Fred D. White

Recommended by: Alayna Wood, Communications Coordinator

 

This book is an anthology of the writings of the great naturalist, John Muir. The historical aspect of the book describes different chapters of Muir's life as a wanderer, steward and inventor and is interwoven with his own thoughts and writings. It paints a full picture of this incredible man and highlights the impact he had on America.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adolescent/ Fiction:

 

 

Walk Two Moons

Written by: Sharon Creech

Recommended by: Alayna Wood, Communications Coordinator

 

 I read this book in middle school and then once again with my own middle schoolers when I was a teacher, myself. It's a coming of age-story set amongst the backdrop of the American mid-west as our protagonist and narrator, Salamenca Tree Hiddle, reflects on the departure of her mother as she road trips with her grandparents to visit her. It's a story of coming to terms with loss and grief, cultural identity, and empathizing with the hardships of others. It's an amazing, lesser known book that I believe all kids and adults should read!

 

 

 

 

 

Hatchet

Written by: Gary Paulsen

Recommended by: Alayna Wood, Communications Coordinator

 

Another book that became essential reading if you were a kid in the ‘90s, Hatchet tells the story of Brian, a kid who miraculously survives a plane crash and must further fight for survival in the Canadian wilderness. He ends up learning his way around the forest and becomes a proficient woodsman. This book strikes a healthy balance between over-the-top and realistic scenarios and teaches readers to carry a deep respect for nature, while also facing it with a healthy amount of caution. 

 

 

 

 

 

We want to hear from you! Tell us about some of your own personal favorite travel and adventure books in the comments! 

 

 

 

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