Inspirational outdoor books?

A recent Redditt thread asked about books that inspire people to get outside.  I somewhat cheated and listed books that inspired me to think about the outdoors instead. 

Here are my picks. All books I discussed previously:


  • Brave New West: Morphing Moab at the Speed of Greed by Jim Stiles– Written over a decade ago, the book may be about Moab, but it applies to any “new west” town facing many visitors overwhelming the resources and pricing out people who call the place home. The book also asks whether “green friendly” industries are better than traditional western industries in aggregate? I can’t entirely agree with all Stiles writes, but it certainly makes me consider my views. An earlier review.

I also realized that I’d grown soft, Things had been going to well lately. Too easily. I needed something to pare the fat off my soul, to scare the shit out of me, to make me grateful, again, for being alive. All I knew, deep and safe, beyond mere intellect, that there is nothing like a wilderness journey for re-kindling the fires of life. Simplicity is part of it. Cutting the cackle. Transportation reduced to leg- or arm-power, eating irons to one spoon. Such simplicity, together with sweat and silence, amplify the rhythms of any long journey, especially through unknown, untattered territory. And in the end such a journey can restore an understanding of how insignificant you are – thereby set you free.

Many people still celebrate his legend in Grand Canyon circles. But at what cost to his family, marriage, and friendships? The outdoor community celebrates similar people throughout the decades, but outside of the achievements, we seldom think of what these achievements may have cost them personally. An earlier review.

…and one i’ll add after the discussion is :

  • Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water by Marc Reisner  Another book I re-read every few years. To understand the west, you need to understand the history, politics, and culture around water and the battles to maintain the access and control of this resource that will undoubtedly become even more important in the years ahead.  Sadly, the author had passed away after the 1993 revision. An update factoring in the growth of Denver, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, and Las Vegas and the implications of climate change would make for a fascinating set of chapters. An earlier review.

Arguably the heart and soul of the Colorado Plateau – The confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers.

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Rog Banrode
Rog Banrode
2 years ago

Paul, thanks for these. May I recommend linking to Bookshop instead of @m@zon, the latter company being extremely evil? Bookshop is much better for authors and local shops (and no I do not work for them or in any way benefit from them) and also, you can still get affiliate through them to support pmags.

Mike Clelland
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Mags

Any locally owned bookstore can easily order any of these books, and this eliminates the shipping you’d pay at the site named after a river in South America.

Mike Clelland
2 years ago

Do any of those books have cartoons in them?