The best books about strong women walking

Why am I passionate about this?

I had always wanted a grand adventure and I’ve always loved reading about epic journeys. When I was a teen, I read an article in National Geographic about walking the Appalachian Trail and thought, I need to do that. I grew up in an outdoorsy family and married a man who loved the outdoors even more. But we never got to an adventure until we were empty nesters. In our late fifties we decided to walk 1400 miles from the cold North Sea to the warm Mediterranean on the legendary long-distance trail the GR5. After finishing our epic journey, I needed to share my love of European walking with others.


I wrote...

Book cover of To Walk It Is To See It: 1 Couple, 98 Days, 1400 Miles on Europe's GR5

What is my book about?

In 2018, Kathy Elkind and her husband decided to take a grown-up “gap year” in Europe and walk the 1,400-mile Grande Randonnée Cinq (GR5) across The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France.

At fifty-seven, Kathy has chosen comfort over hardship: she and Jim get to indulge in warm beds and delicious regional food every night and croissants in the mornings. But the GR5 isn't all comfort. Walking day after day for ninety-eight days brings sickness, accommodation struggles, language barriers, and storm-shrouded mountains in the Alps. As the days unfold, however, she discovers her own wise strength and comes to the gratifying realization that a long marriage is like a long trail: there are ups and downs and it takes hard work to keep going, but the beauty along the way is staggering.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Sun Is a Compass: A 4,000-Mile Journey Into the Alaskan Wilds

Kathy Elkind Why did I love this book?

I love this amazing adventure memoir because Van Hermert is much more courageous than I. As she and her husband row, trek, ski, and canoe 4,000 miles across Alaska, I get to come along for the ride without breaking a sweat. 

Van Hemert, who studied birds, uses the birds she observes as metaphors for what she is feeling, and this increases the depth of her writing. She and her husband take this journey before having children, and I like comparing it to my husband and my journey after our kids had flown the nest. I highly recommend this well-written wild journey of a book.

By Caroline Van Hemert,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Sun Is a Compass as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

During graduate school, as she conducted experiments on the peculiarly misshapen beaks of chickadees, ornithologist Caroline Van Hemert began to feel stifled in the isolated, sterile environment of the lab. Worried that she was losing her passion for the scientific research she once loved, she was compelled to experience wildness again, to be guided by the sounds of birds and to follow the trails of animals.

In March of 2012 she and her husband set off on a 4,000-mile wilderness journey from the Pacific rainforest to the Alaskan Arctic. Travelling by rowboat, ski, foot, raft and canoe, they explored northern…


Book cover of The Salt Path: A Memoir

Kathy Elkind Why did I love this book?

I love The Salt Path because I connect with the struggle of the couple in their fifties walking day after day on the South West Coast Path, an English footpath, as my husband and I had just finished walking the Grande Randonnée (GR5) in Europe.

We walked as part of our adult gap year. They walked because they became homeless. Winn’s poetic writing brought me deep into their trials of homelessness, illness, and quest for what is ‘Home”. 

By Raynor Winn,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Salt Path as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Polished, poignant... an inspiring story of true love."-Entertainment Weekly

A BEST BOOK OF 2019, NPR's Book Concierge
SHORTLISTED FOR THE COSTA BOOK AWARD
OVER 400,000 COPIES SOLD WORLDWIDE

The true story of a couple who lost everything and embarked on a transformative journey walking the South West Coast Path in England

Just days after Raynor Winn learns that Moth, her husband of thirty-two years, is terminally ill, their house and farm are taken away, along with their livelihood. With nothing left and little time, they make the brave and impulsive decision to walk the 630 miles of the sea-swept South…


Book cover of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Kathy Elkind Why did I love this book?

Wild is the classic walking/hiking memoir, loved by millions including myself.

Cherly Strayed beautifully shares the wilds of the Pacific Crest Trail at the same time her words taking us on an emotional reflection of her childhood with her mother and of growing into adulthood after her mother’s death. Ultimately, she discovers through walking how to live without her mother. I love the way she seamlessly tells two riveting stories at once.  

By Cheryl Strayed,

Why should I read it?

29 authors picked Wild as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe—and built her back up again.

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the…


Book cover of Wanderers: A History of Women Walking

Kathy Elkind Why did I love this book?

Wanderers is not a memoir. Andrews, who is a professor of literature in the UK, presents ten chapters on ten famous women writers who also walked.

I found it interesting to learn how some of the women left town before dawn to walk so that they would not be seen. Society at that time felt it was not safe for a woman to walk by herself. I was amazed at some of the distances that they walked; for example, in the early 1800s Ellen Weeton walked 35 miles in a day. 

I found the interconnection of walking to help writing and writing about walking fascinating. I will return to read this again and again. 

By Kerri Andrews,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wanderers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now in B-format paperback, this book describes ten women over the past three hundred years who have found walking essential to their sense of themselves, as people and as writers.
Wanderers traces their footsteps, from eighteenth-century parson's daughter Elizabeth Carter - who desired nothing more than to be taken for a vagabond in the wilds of southern England - to modern walker-writers such as Nan Shepherd and Cheryl Strayed. For each, walking was integral, whether it was rambling for miles across the Highlands, like Sarah Stoddart Hazlitt, or pacing novels into being, as Virginia Woolf did around Bloomsbury.
Offering a…


Book cover of The Twenty: One Woman's Trek Across Corsica on the GR20 Trail

Kathy Elkind Why did I love this book?

I love this adventure travel memoir about hiking across Corsica, a French island in the Mediterranean, because the author and her husband who just turned sixty, inspire me to keep walking and adventuring for as long as possible.

The GR20 is one of the toughest trails in Europe and the author shows us with her determination and honesty how to persist. After reading this book, I’m excited to add the GR20 to my wish list of walks or at least dream about it. 

By Marianne C. Bohr,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Twenty as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Great for fans of: Suzanne Roberts's Almost Somewhere, Juliana Buhring's This Road I Ride.


Marianne Bohr and her husband, about to turn sixty, are restless for adventure. They decide on an extended, desolate trek across the French island of Corsica-the GR20, Europe's toughest long-distance footpath-to challenge what it means to grow old. Part travelogue, part buddy story, part memoir, The Twenty is a journey across a rugged island of stunning beauty little known outside Europe.


From a chubby, non-athletic child, Bohr grew into a fit, athletic person with an "I'll show them" attitude. But hiking The Twenty forces her to…


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Rip Current

By Sharon Ward,

Book cover of Rip Current

Sharon Ward Author Of In Deep

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Even as a kid, I was intrigued by the underwater world, so as an adult, I learned to scuba dive. I took to it like a fish to water, and my husband and I spent the next several years traveling to tropical islands to experience the local dive conditions whenever possible. I loved learning how every island had a different culture and a different undersea environment. Since I love tropical islands, scuba diving, mysteries, and adventure stories, these books really hit my sweet spot.

Sharon's book list on mysteries set on a tropical island

What is my book about?

Unsettled weather has caused life-threatening rip currents to sprout up seemingly at random in the usually tranquil sea around Grand Cayman. Despite posted warnings to stay out of the surf, several women lose their life when caught in the turbulent waters. Fin attempts some dangerous rescues, and nearly loses her own life in the process.

Meanwhile, Fin and the team at RIO are struggling to find more sources of funding for the Institute’s important research, and danger arises from an unexpected source while Fin and hot movie star Rafe Cummings are filming an upcoming documentary. When a young internet influencer…

Rip Current

By Sharon Ward,

What is this book about?

Unsettled weather has caused life-threatening rip currents to sprout up seemingly at random in the usually tranquil sea around Grand Cayman. Despite posted warnings to stay out of the surf, several women lose their life when caught in the turbulent waters. Fin attempts some dangerous rescues, and nearly loses her own life in the process.
Meanwhile, Fin and the team at RIO are struggling to find more sources of funding for the Institute’s important research, and danger arises from an unexpected source while Fin and hot movie star Rafe Cummings are filming an upcoming documentary.
Soon after a young internet…


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