1. A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson
Middle-aged and out of shape, Bill Bryson and his friend Stephen Katz, an overweight, recovering alcoholic, attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail. A humorous account of their adventures, A Walk in the Woods also discusses the trail’s history, ecology, and the relationship between people and the trail. For anyone who’s ever wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail, read this book.
2. AWOL on the Appalachian Trail by David Miller
41-year-old David Miller quits his job as an engineer, leaving his family to hike the Appalachian Trail. AWOL on the Appalachian Trail chronicles Miller’s experiences and perspective as he hikes the entire 2,172 miles from Georgia to Maine. Read more to discover what compelled him to follow this dream and how his life changed along the way. This also serves as a useful guide on gear and safety for interested hikers.
3. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
This classic adventure novel follows the transformation of a dog named Buck who was taken from his Californian home and sold as a sled dog in Alaska during the demands of the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush. The Call of the Wild is a story of perseverance and metamorphosis as Buck learns how to survive in the harsh Yukon and its wild inhabitants.
4. Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
Edward Abbey documents his musings and experiences as a park ranger at Arches National Park in the Colorado Plateau in Desert Solitaire. Part memoir, part fiction, this book is a series of vignettes about nature, the isolation of the desert, and life in the wilderness.
5. Grandma Gatewood’s Walk by Ben Montgomery
Known for becoming the first woman to hike the entire Appalachian Trail and the first person to walk it twice and three times, Emma “Grandma” Gatewood has an inspirational story. Her criticism of the trail’s maintenance is said to have saved the trail from extinction.
6. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
13-year-old Brian finds himself alone on a bush plane when the pilot dies of a heart attack. He keeps the plane level until he crashes into a lake – and that’s just the beginning. Read more to discover a story of adventure and survival in the Canadian forest.
7. Into the Wild by John Krakauer
This is the story of Christopher McCandless, a well-to-do, 20-something looking for meaning in life. As he hitchhiked to Alaska, he took the name Alexander Supertramp and roamed the United States, inspired by his heroes Jack London and John Muir. Into the Wild remains a haunting story about seeking meaning in nature and the power of the wilderness.
8. Into Thin Air by John Krakauer
Another hit by Jon Krakauer, Into Thin Air recounts the chilling tale of five expeditions on the summit of Mount Everest. Although the conditions started as perfect, twenty-four hours later, one climber died and twenty-three others were in a battle for their lives against a fatal storm.
9. Roughing It by Mark Twain
Roughing It is a humorous account of a young Mark Twain and his misadventures traveling from Nevada to California to Hawaii. This is a wild read involving Mormons, tarantulas, and volcanoes.
10. The Good Life: Up the Yukon Without a Paddle by Dorian Amos
Dorian Amos, a painter, and his wife moved to Canada for adventure and a better life. After months of camping in the wilderness with their dog and their canoe, the couple finds an abandoned and neglected log cabin in the mountains to call home.
11. Travels With Charley in Search of America by John Steinbeck
In 1960, John Steinbeck began his search for America with his French poodle named Charley. Travels with Charley remains one of the best American road trip stories, covering almost forty states and discovering the complexities of 1960s America.
12. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
Wild is a story of self-discovery and self-care. As a 22-year-old woman, Cheryl Strayed found herself struggling after the death of her mother and the collapse of her marriage. With nothing to lose four years later, she decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert to Washington alone. Through humor and powerful vulnerability, Wild manages to capture the fears and joys of womanhood and an epic solo journey into the wilderness.