The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
The colder months certainly bring their own joys, but they can also be a difficult season for those of us who get great fulfillment from spending time outdoors doing activities that are made onerous with feet of snow on the ground. On the days when a blizzard is raging outside and you crave exploration, the next best thing can be to dive into a book that feeds your longing for adventure. I have compiled a list of some of my favorite outdoors books that I feel instill a sense of common humanity, appreciation for the environment, and a desire to experience nature in their readers. I am grateful for the books on this list for giving me a reprieve from inclement weather and fueling my fire to keep exploring once the ferocity of winter calms down. In no particular order, here are my chosen outdoors books to appreciate when you’re stuck inside:
- Walking to Listen: 4,000 Miles Across America, One Story at a Time by Andrew Forsthoefel
Forsthoefel’s book chronicles his adventures walking from the East Coast to the West, relying only on his own two feet as transportation and the kindness of strangers for shelter. He carries a sign with him that reads “Walking to Listen,” and his goal is to receive guidance from all whom he meets on his path. When reading this book, I felt so grateful that Forsthoefel had made his journey so that I, too, could learn from the experiences of everyone he met and listened to with such purpose. His walk west was far from easy and the elements in each region of the U.S. were a constant reminder that we are more vulnerable as human beings than we’d often like to think. I finished Walking to Listen wanting to immediately set off across the country and listen to stories told by all different sorts of people, so it was definitely a stirring read.
- Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
I feel like reading Into the Wild is a rite of passage for those who have an inherent drive to respond to the call of the wilderness. Krakauer does an excellent job of weaving together the story of Chris McCandless’ trek into the unknown and what ultimately leads to his demise in Alaska. The insatiable pull that some people (chief among them McCandless) feel to leave everything behind and retreat into the wilderness is hard to put into words, yet Krakauer’s dedication to telling McCandless’ story makes Into the Wild a magnificent account of that feeling.
- Alone on the Wall by Alex Honnold and David Roberts
For fans of the thrilling 2018 documentary Free Solo, this is the book for you. Alone on the Wall is another medium through which we can be lucky enough to consume Alex Honnold’s wisdom and distinctive humor. Climbing some of the world’s highest and trickiest rock faces is challenging enough, but Honnold insists on adding the element of climbing without ropes or other safety devices. For him, free-soloing is such a passion that he is willing to die for it. Anything produced by Honnold is worth a read, watch, or listen due to his exhilarating stories alone, but it is his remarks on taking risks and keeping focused that stuck with me the most.
- Walden by Henry David Thoreau
I first came across Walden as a freshman in high school when I was assigned the classic by a teacher of mine. I did not expect to still sing Thoreau’s praises five years later, but his work in this book was transformational for me. Walden is Thoreau’s ode to the two years he spent living in a secluded cabin on Walden Pond and the corresponding lessons he learned about self-sufficiency and humanity’s relationship with nature. I visited Walden Pond and Thoreau’s homestead shortly after reading the book and the peace found there is palpable; the beautiful thing is, the joy I was able to experience in that place came from what Thoreau had taught me about solitude and simplicity. I always look to Thoreau’s example when I contemplate my relationship with the outdoors.
- Maiden Voyage by Tania Aebi and Bernadette Brennan
Tania Aebi’s autobiographical book about her adventures sailing around the world by herself (at age eighteen!) is nothing short of incredible. Aimless and unsure of herself, Aebi’s father gave her the choice between him funding her college education or a twenty-six-foot sailboat in which she would have to circumnavigate the earth. Aebi chose the latter and it changed her life. Maiden Voyage speaks to the physical and mental challenges Aebi faced on her two-year journey and encourages its readers to evaluate their own lives in an almost serendipitous way.
Whether someone is experienced in spending time in nature or not, these books are accessible to everyone because of the special element found only in outdoors books. This element calls us to examine what we see in the world around us and in our own selves; it commands us to come face-to-face with our most primitive sentiments on the human condition as it relates to the natural world. So – when you check the weather forecast and realize you’ll be confined indoors all day, consider taking a different kind of adventure and give these books a try.