Whether they’re stories about explorers and dirtbags, or philosophical musings about nature, these 7 books for your adventurous soul will inspire you to live wild.
# 1 Wild – Cheryl Strayed
A 20-something woman has lost her mother and now her marriage has dissolved. Her life is in a shambles. With no real hiking experience, she decides to undertake the Pacific Crest Trail (think 5 months walking from the Mexican to the Canadian border) to find herself and lose her toenails.
#2 Into The Wild – John Krakauer
A 20-something man finishes college and has a bright future ahead of him. Harvard seems on the horizon. Instead he disappears, sends his college fund to Oxfam and orders the Post Office to hold his mail for two months.
For the next couple of years he wanders dirt-poor through America, and leaves an unforgettable impression on those he meets. Eventually, he heads north to Alaska where he perishes. This is his story: the authenticity of living for himself, his selfishness, intensity, and irresponsibility and his ultimately fatal search for what it means to live.
# 3 Walden – Henry David Thoreau
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately… and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived”.
In the 1800s, Henry abandons civil society in favour of a cabin by the woods. He lives simply and cheaply and derives a philosophy for a good life. This book (which is in the public domain) gives advice on everything from budgeting to clothing and is a classic for good reason – but it can be a bit wordy. Thoreau is the master of living an authentic life, and I credit this book for giving me a philosophy to live by.
# 4 My First Summer In The Sierra – John Muir
When I was camping and hiking in Yosemite last year, I watched a theatre piece on the life of John Muir one evening. I was impacted by the character of this strange, bearded fellow.
Muir was a naturalist and is responsible for the first national parks in America. He lived sometimes dangerously, summiting mountains in storms and getting caught in avalanches – and he did it before it was cool (safety is cooler).
The John Muir Trail in California is testament to his impact on Yosemite National Park and his writings continue to inspire generations of explorers and nature-lovers to live a life in touch with the wild. His work is accessible for free online via the Sierra Club.
# 5 On The Origin Of Species – Charles Darwin
“There is grandeur in this view of life…”
All the beauty, diversity, and complexity of life on Earth was first explained scientifically by Charles Darwin in his elegant book, On The Origin Of Species (which you can read here).
The old naturalists like Darwin have a very romantic style of writing that will convince you of the splendour of the world. At least twice a day I still stop to contemplate the incredulity of being alive.
The chances of being alive are so minuscule that it seems impossible that we are allowed to experience what we do. It is this knowledge that drives me to live happily and contently, to explore all I can, to climb and hike ‘so I can see the world, and not so that the world can see me’ (David McCullough).
# 6 1000 Days Of Spring – Tomislav Perko
# 7 Tracks – Robyn Davidson
A Brisbane woman undertakes a great Australian journey across the desert with camels.
This multifaceted book covers her struggles for months on end in Alice Springs as she tries to learn how to train camels, her coming face to face with the stark reality of Aboriginal life, and the impact of having National Geographic photograph her trip. The book describes the sheer and incredible beauty of what is often called a harsh and unforgiving part of Australia.