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Inspired by Nature/Science/Travel Books

For me, learning to love being outside actually started with my love for reading (mostly indoors) and then being inspired to get out there. So my question is, what are your favorite reads for either bringing along for winding down at camp in the evening or maybe getting hyped for a trip? I'll go first! These are all non-fiction, science-writing but also mostly framed in the personal stories of the authors. But fiction suggestions always welcome!

(1) On Trails: An Exploration by Robert Moor -- an interesting mix of the author's personal reflections on hiking and trails, paired with a historical, cultural, geological and biological deep dive on paths and path-making. So well written and well-researched I learned a lot from this one 🌲

(2) The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elizabeth Tovey Bailey -- a personal journey about healing and life's fragility, interwoven with facts about snails. This one is the shortest but really impactful. Such a deeply personal story and by the end you'll just never look at snails the same way 🐌

(3) Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness -- you learn about the evolution of cephalopods, which are so cool, but it's also this fascinating reflection on philosophy and cognition. Probably my favorite of the three. Academic-ish but accessible, mostly nice for fantasizing about exploring the ocean next summer 🐙

22 Replies

That's a great resource, thanks!


My most recent trip to the Four Corners was guided by David Grant Noble's excellent, "Ancient Ruins and Rock Art of the Southwest".

There were several other books that supported and informed my interest in this subject.

"Hiking New Mexico's Chaco Canyon" by James C. Wilson

"The Mesa Verde World" edited by David Grant Noble

"In Search of Chaco" edited by David Grant Noble


And of course you have heard of Wild by Cheryl Strayed.  It is an absolutely powerful and deep MEMIOR that has the setting of the PCT.  Do not mistake it for a 'how to' or even a 'how not to' backpack the PCT.   It has great writing that will transport you to the outer world of wilderness and the inner world of our thoughts and feeling about our experience along life's wild paths.  It really needs to be included on this list for most people  (except for one friend who said he read all but the emotional parts...=...wasted on him.)