We have already shared with you the outdoor podcasts that will take your love of nature deeper into the woods and fur-ther out onto the water. Now, whether you want books about nature to read during an upcoming camping trip or need to rely on the finest outdoor literature to inspire your next adventure in nature, here are 7 examples of great outdoor writing that will leave you breathless beneath the leaves.
Upstream by Mary Oliver
One of America’s greatest poets reflects on the significance of Walk Whitman’s writing, the mysteries of the natural world, and the beauty of the world’s flora and fauna in a series of essays and poetry about nature that leap off the page like a butterfly taking flight in the woods. As she writes in Upstream, “I could not be a poet without the natural world. Someone else could. But not me. For me the door to the woods is the door to the temple.” Oliver’s graceful words here represent some of the finest outdoor literature, and encourages readers to be in awe of the unknown, appreciate the curi-osities of nature, and connect with the environment that surrounds them everyday.
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
Bill Bryson is arguably the greatest travel writer of our generation and this book is arguably his best. Acting as a thor-oughly entertaining nature guide, Bryson takes you on the Appalachian Trail, introducing you to the legendary trek’s histo-ry and ecology as only he can, as well as some of the curious characters (and bears) you’ll meet along the way. For avid hikers and nature trail walkers alike, this is great outdoor writing and one of the best books about nature ever written.
Ranger Confidential by Andrea Lankford
Many outdoor lovers fantasize about being a National Park ranger. Author Andrea Lankford lived that life for a dozen years, working as a ranger in the most famous national parks, and in turn, has produced one of the most graphic and funny books about nature you’ll read this year! From bears to bad guys, baby sea turtles to rattlesnakes, Lankford has seen and done it all in America’s National Parks while trying to maintain her idealism despite protecting nature from peo-ple who too often seem dead set on destroying it for future generations. As far as outdoor literature goes, it does get much more authentic or eye-opening than Ranger Confidential!
Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story by Douglas Preston
National Geographic named this startlingly true outdoor literature one of the best books of the year and within a few pag-es, you’ll understand why! Journalist Douglas Preston personally takes you on an adventure deep beneath the canopy of the Honduran rainforest to discover of a lost civilization and an unraveling medical mystery. Preston’s masterful descrip-tions of the perilous but awe-inspiring wilderness coalesces with jaw-dropping suspense, history, and twists of fate to tell a true story of one of the great discoveries of the 21st century.
Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
A May 1996 disaster is the scene of this legendary piece of outdoor literature from journalist Jon Krakauer. Not only is Into Thin Air one of the finest books about nature, both its beauty and harrowing ferocity, it’s also a true story about life and death, guilt and responsibility, and in the end, what it means to push the limits of human endeavor. You will be moved as you hike Mt. Everest with the author and a team of guides and mountaineers, some of whom will sadly not make it back alive.
A River Runs Through It and Other Stories by Norman MacLean
Not only is it a phenomenal film starring Brad Pitt, the title novella of this story collection is also widely considered to be some of the great outdoor writing of the 20th century. Maclean’s love and adoration for the great outdoors, from fly-fishing to trees, and for the artful beauty of a life lived outside, has propelled A River Runs Through It into the pantheon of outdoor literature. This is a classic of the American West and is required reading for anglers, campers, hikers, boaters, and anyone who can (or wants to learn how to) appreciate the picturesque, idyllic stillness of the natural world.
The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel
In 1986, a young man walked out of his Massachusetts home, got in his car, and drove to Maine. So far, there is nothing out of the ordinary in this classic New England story set up. However, Christopher Knight’s time in nature is unlike any-thing you’ve ever heard or read. In one of the more shocking books about nature, you will learn how Knight disappeared into the woods and would not have a conversation with another human being for almost 30 years! This unbelievable but entirely true reported piece of outdoor literature is ultimately about survival but also asks the readers to consider ques-tions of what is means to live a free life and how we do or do not need community to exist and be content.
Looking for inspiration to write poetry about the outdoors or maybe start to tell your own nature story? Start planning for the warm weather with these summertime activities!