The best books about wild people doing wild things in wild places

Who am I?

I’ve always wanted to write, and I’ve always wanted to play outside. Bringing the two together started in childhood, climbing redwoods and scribbling fantasies, and grew from there, eventually morphing into a career as an award-winning writer of outdoor adventure guidebooks and essays about national parks. Of course, writing requires reading, and to hone my craft I’ve devoured a library of outdoor literature, journeying with John Muir in Yosemite, Mallory and Irvine on Everest, and Cheryl Strayed on the Pacific Crest Trail. If someone’s doing a wild thing in a wild place, I want to read all about it—and then I want to head outside and get a little wild myself.


I wrote...

Book cover of Search and Rescue Alaska

What is my book about?

In a place as vast and extreme as Alaska, no one takes safety for granted. Whether adventurer or homesteader, tourist or native, people look out for themselves and for each other. But sometimes it just goes bad, and no amount of resourcefulness or resiliency can make it right. That’s when search and rescue teams kick into gear, launching operations that have generated amazing tales of heroism, tenacity, and human kindness.

The essays collected in Search and Rescue Alaska describe rescues on Denali, North America’s highest peak, a World War II self-rescue that ended with a remarkable recovery more than half a century later, the travails of Klondike-bound gold-seekers caught in an avalanche on the infamous Chilkoot Trail, and more. These stories will both entertain and kindle a new appreciation for the skilled and selfless pilots, troopers, military personnel, and rangers on call for search and rescue in Alaska.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of My Life of High Adventure

Tracy Salcedo Why did I love this book?

Grant Pearson was the superintendent of Mount McKinley National Park, now Denali National Park and Preserve, in the mid-twentieth century, and was part of the Lindley-Liek Expedition, which made the remarkable second ascent of the peak in 1932 – one that included a search and recovery. He tells that story, as well as many others, in this humble, humorous, and illuminating autobiography. His passion for Denali’s wilderness, and for adventuring, is compelling.

By Grant Pearson, Philip Newill,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Life of High Adventure as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most important libraries around the world), and other notations in the work.

This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and…


Book cover of Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster

Tracy Salcedo Why did I love this book?

Let’s face it: This is a must-read for anyone who ventures into wild places. Krakauer delves deep into the personalities and circumstances that led to tragedy on Mount Everest in 1996 and illuminates motivations that any mountaineer would be wise to be conscious of. To this day, no matter what I’m climbing—a staircase in a cheap hotel or a steep trail to a ridgetop—I always hold close to one of the lasting lessons on this book: Bad things happen on the descent.

By Jon Krakauer,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked Into Thin Air as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER • The epic account of the storm on the summit of Mt. Everest that claimed five lives and left countless more—including Krakauer's—in guilt-ridden disarray. 

"A harrowing tale of the perils of high-altitude climbing, a story of bad luck and worse judgment and of heartbreaking heroism." —PEOPLE

A bank of clouds was assembling on the not-so-distant horizon, but journalist-mountaineer Jon Krakauer, standing on the summit of Mt. Everest, saw nothing that "suggested that a murderous storm was bearing down." He was wrong. 

By writing Into Thin Air, Krakauer may have hoped to exorcise some of his own demons…


Book cover of Grandma Gatewood's Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail

Tracy Salcedo Why did I love this book?

If I’m lucky, someday I’ll get to do something like what Grandma Gatewood did, and Ben Montgomery does a great job of telling us all about it. Emma Gatewood dropped everything once her children were grown and she could shuck her domestic responsibilities and set off alone to walk the Appalachian Trail. No training, no fancy gear, no special food: She just went for a walk, and then did it again, and again, transforming herself into trailblazing conservationist along the way.

By Ben Montgomery,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Grandma Gatewood's Walk as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

2014 National Outdoor Book Award Winner in History / Biography

Emma Gatewood told her family she was going on a walk and left her small Ohio hometown with a change of clothes and less than two hundred dollars. The next anybody heard from her, this genteel, farm-reared, sixty-seven-year-old great-grandmother had walked 800 miles along the 2,050-mile Appalachian Trail. By September 1955 she stood atop Maine’s Mount Katahdin, sang “America, the Beautiful,” and proclaimed, “I said I’ll do it, and I’ve done it.”

Driven by a painful marriage, Grandma Gatewood not only hiked the trail alone, she was the first person—man…


Book cover of The Great Alone

Tracy Salcedo Why did I love this book?

Wild has many definitions, and while the setting for this disturbing story, in a remote Alaskan village, might seem like this book’s main qualification, The Great Alone explores the wilderness of the mind as well — or rather, how a wild man can create a more terrifying reality than the most demanding landscape. That beautiful, harsh landscape shapes the story’s heroes as well, forcing them to find their strength, build that strength, and lend each other strength when the going gets rough … which it does, in a big Alaskan way.

By Kristin Hannah,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Great Alone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Kristin Hannah’s The Great Alone, a desperate family seeks a new beginning in the near-isolated wilderness of Alaska only to find that their unpredictable environment is less threatening than the erratic behavior found in human nature.

#1 New York Times Instant Bestseller (February 2018)
A People “Book of the Week”
Buzzfeed’s “Most Anticipated Women’s Fiction Reads of 2018”
Seattle Times’s “Books to Look Forward to in 2018”

Alaska, 1974. Ernt Allbright came home from the Vietnam War a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes the impulsive decision to move his wife and daughter…


Book cover of Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West

Tracy Salcedo Why did I love this book?

Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, and the Corps of Discovery set off into the wilderness with an astonishing mission: To explore and map the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase and to traverse the continent to the Pacific Ocean. Ambrose weaves this story from the journals Lewis, Clark, and others in the Corps left behind, documenting the boldness of the endeavor (hunts and navigation and encounters with grizzlies), the human interactions (with Native Americans and within the Corps itself), and the quiet beauty of the American West, its flora and fauna, and its dynamic waterways.

By Stephen E. Ambrose,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Undaunted Courage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A chronicle of the two-and-a-half year journey of Lewis and Clark covers their incredible hardships and the contributions of Sacajawea.


You might also like...

The Constant Tower

By Carole McDonnell,

Book cover of The Constant Tower

Carole McDonnell Author Of Wind Follower

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Armchair anthropologist Asian drama addict Christian Perseverer

Carole's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Plus, Carole's 10, and 12-year-old's favorite books.

What is my book about?

This is a multicultural epic fantasy with a diverse cast of characters. Sickly fifteen-year-old Prince Psal, the son of warrior-king Nahas, should have been named Crown Prince of all Wheel Clan lands. But his clan disdains the disabled.

When the mysterious self-moving towers that keep humans safe from the Creator's ancient curse rebel, Psal attempts to find the Constant Tower and break the power of the third moon. Psal must risk losing the little respect his father has for him and face the dangers of the unmaking night to find the Constant Tower and save all of humanity.

The Constant Tower

By Carole McDonnell,

What is this book about?

Sickly fifteen year old Prince Psal, the son of the nature-blessed warrior-king Nahas, should have been named Crown Prince of all Wheel Clan lands. A priest-physician like his friend Ephan, Psal lacks a warrior's heart, yet he desires to earn Nahas's respect and become a clan chief. If he cannot do this, he must escape his clan altogether. But his love for Cassia, the daughter of his father's enemy, and his own weaknesses work against him. When war comes, Psal defends Ktwala and her daughter Mahari, wronged by Nahas, and speaks out against the atrocities his clan commits, further jeopardizing…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Thomas Jefferson, veterans, and Mount Everest?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Thomas Jefferson, veterans, and Mount Everest.

Thomas Jefferson Explore 49 books about Thomas Jefferson
Veterans Explore 77 books about veterans
Mount Everest Explore 15 books about Mount Everest