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:
- Wilderness Ethics: Preserving the Spirit of Wildness by Guy and Laura Waterman. Though written in the 1990s, the subjects it brings up still resonate in our time of social media and accessible communication. How do we preserve our wild places and still allow access in a balanced manner? A book well worth reading. An earlier review.
- 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.
- Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills – The Bible that gets updated for each new generation of outdoor use. Though mountaineering focused, the book covers the base level knowledge for all general outdoor use, meaning knots, shelters, clothing, how to stay warm, etc. Get it. Read it. Use it. An earlier review of the 2010 edition.
- River: One Man’s Journey Down Colorado, Source to Sea by Colin Fletcher- A book I re-read every few years as few people covered the “WHY?” of the outdoors as well as Fletcher. I enjoy this book as Fletcher is near the end of his adventuring days and reflects on the life lead. Earlier thoughts on this book.
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.
- Grand Obsession: Harvey Butchart and the Exploration of Grand Canyon – Butchart still gets considered the grandmaster of Grand Canyon exploration, and he’s the first known person to walk the length of the Grand Canyon (as it existed at the time as an NPS unit) going on what we would call section hikes.
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.