in Outdoor Play / by
National Book Lover’s Day is August 9th, and we can’t think of a better excuse to pick up some of the best adventure books to read around the campfire.
Whether you’re drawn to inspirational hiking books before summiting a 14er, or you’re just looking for some feel-good novels about nature, we’ve got all the titles you need to find some serious outdoor inspiration.
Even better, Roofnest founder and adventure-seeker Tim Nickles weighed in on our list, offering his 3 favorite books for outdoor enthusiasts.
Keep reading to discover your next binge-worthy outdoor book — so you can go on an adventure even on the days when you can’t leave the house.
At the Edge: Riding for My Life by Danny MacAskill
While you’ve probably seen this Scotsman’s mountain biking stunts on YouTube and in international films, you’ve never encountered him quite like this.
In this book, MacAskill us behind the scenes of his epic stunts on mountain peaks, rooftops, and through the beautiful Isle of Skye where he grew up, dreaming of doing something extraordinary. We can say he’s certainly accomplished that and more.
If I Live Until Morning: A True Story of Adventure, Tragedy and Transformation by Jean Muenchrath
There’s a reason this book was awarded the Best Book Awards Finalist in the Travel and Essays category.
Muenchrath has been through every backcountry skier’s worst nightmare. 200 miles into her trek on the John Muir Trail, she finds herself severely injured and alone on the highest peak in the U.S.
Her survival takes us past the danger of the wilderness and into what it really means to be alone and vulnerable in the great outdoors.
Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer
Mt. Everest has been a topic of fascination throughout the history of mountain climbing. But no book has captured the perils of conquering the summit like Krakauer, a mountaineer who was there in the 1996 expedition that took 5 lives.
This updated version contains a never-seen-before postscript about the heated discussion between Krakauer and an Everest guide after the lethal mistakes were made on the mountain.
The book was made into film shortly after Into Thin Air: Death on Everest, but you know what they say about books made into movies. Experience the story on the page first.
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
No non-fiction adventure book list would be complete without Krakauer’s page-turner about a young wilderness explorer whose body was discovered in the backwoods months after walking alone into the Alaskan wilderness.
Like a true crime detective, Krakauer uncovers the events that lead to Christopher McCandles turning away from his well-to-do life and carving out a piece of wilderness for himself — which later led to his unfortunate demise.
127 Hours: Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston
Any experienced outdoorsman knows that what can go wrong, will go wrong. And nobody knows this better than Aron Ralston.
On a hike through a Utah canyon, an 800-pound boulder crushed his hand and pinned him up against the canyon wall. With little food and nobody to come looking for him, Ralston makes the harrowing decision to cut off his arm.
Nominated for a slew of Academy Awards after being brought to life on the silver screen, we’d still recommend reading the book before watching James Franco recreate Ralston’s will to live.
Tim Nickle’s Picks
We asked Roofnest founder and outdoor pro Tim Nickles to weigh in on the best adventure books of all time. Here are his top 3 favorites.
Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez
The Artic doesn’t care who you are or where you’re from. It’s one of the few places in the world where only a select few animals can even survive its harsh climate.
“This amazing account follows Lopez’s journeys in Alaska with natural history, anthropology, and poetic musings on life, the Arctic, and nature. Lopez is a beautiful writer and Alaska and the Arctic are beautiful subjects,” says Tim.
A NYTimes bestseller and National Book Award winner, this is one you won’t want to skip this National Book Lovers Day.
Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan
If you’re a surfing fanatic, you’ve just found your next favorite book.
Growing up in California and Hawaii in the 1960s, Finnegan tells us about his wave-chasing years and the social upheavals he witnessed first-hand, and how he coped with the rough and tumble lifestyle of surfing.
Extremely entertaining and inspiring in his storytelling, “Finnegan is a gifted writer and creates a strong sense of Fernweh, the German word for missing a place you’ve never been,” says Tim.
The Impossible Climb: Alex Honnold, El Capitan, and the Climbing Life by Mark Synnott
When it comes to the ethos of climbing, you’re going to want to take it from Mark Synnott. Diving into the golden age of pioneering climbers, he recounts Alex Honnold’s free solo ascent of El Capitan.
Yes, that El Capitan. The 3,000-foot slab of sheer granite in Yosemite that Honnold conquered in under 4 hours — one of the first climbs ever done free.
“Synnott blends history, interviews, and first-person knowledge of climbing in this gripping nail-biter,” says Tim.
Make Camping Educational for The Whole Family
We’re all about learning and growing when we’re out in the wilderness, especially when we accompany a trip with one of these adventure books.
While some of these books likely aren’t appropriate for reading to your kids before bed, that doesn’t mean they can’t expand their minds in other ways.
Nature is the best place to discover new things for kids. From identifying plants to turning the campfire into a chemistry lab, there’s plenty of learning for your kid’s outdoors.
This last bit of summer, add some hands-on education to your adventure. Read our guide to make camping educational for your kids >
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