The best books for wild women and solo female travelers

The Books I Picked & Why

Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

By Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

Why this book?

Women Who Run with the Wolves is a classic; I can’t recommend it enough to anyone interested in the fascinating interplay between myth and fairytale, the female psyche, and the journey of self-discovery—in the literal and psychological woods. This book has led me to think much more deeply about the female archetypes present in both my solo travels and in my personal development (of course, the two are deeply interconnected). I am currently on my second reading of this epic book, and the tales shared and their profound interpretations continue to twine with my life in wild and unexpected ways. Required reading for any aspiring or veteran wild woman!


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Circe

By Madeline Miller

Circe

Why this book?

I’ve read this twice and enjoyed it thoroughly both times… I may even go for a third-round! Every time I read it I feel newly inspired to venture out alone into the forest, seek out some animal familiars, and frolic in a meadow full of flowers. This book tells the story of a (mythical) strong, independent woman with a complex inner life. Her heroine’s journey to self-actualization is a mystical blueprint for any woman wishing to connect with her inner power and embrace the fear of the unknown inherent in any solo journey. Sure, Circe is also a goddess and a powerful witch, but then, so are you.


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A Woman's Path: Women's Best Spiritual Travel Writing

By Lucy McCauley, Amy Greimann Carlson, Jennifer L. Leo

A Woman's Path: Women's Best Spiritual Travel Writing

Why this book?

I happened upon this gem of an anthology in a library book sale a couple of years back, and I highly recommend trying to get your hands on a copy if you’re looking for wide-ranging inspiration and guidance on the traveler’s path. With a focus on the spiritual element of women’s journeys, and featuring literary powerhouses like Maya Angelou and Anne Lamott, this collection is an ode to feminine courage, power, and transformation. Each essay is a masterpiece, and can be a guide to a specific kind of journey. You’ll want to carry a dog-eared copy with you to come back to again and again.


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Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

By Cheryl Strayed

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Why this book?

I almost didn’t include this on my list, because it has become such a cult classic that you’ll find it on every book list for solo female travelers… but honestly, it’s a great read! I think I read this not long before hiking the Camino de Santiago through Northern Spain, and I appreciated the perspective of a regular woman (not a top athlete or hiking enthusiast) digging into her inner drive and determination in order to achieve an extraordinary feat. Strayed’s account of her 1,100-mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail and the healing journey that accompanies it will probably continue to nag at me until I hike that trail myself.


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Stop Telling Women to Smile: Stories of Street Harassment and How We're Taking Back Our Power

By Tatyana Fazlalizadeh

Stop Telling Women to Smile: Stories of Street Harassment and How We're Taking Back Our Power

Why this book?

This book about street art and feminism is an important reminder that the dangers of solo female travel are not so different from the dangers of walking the streets of your home city. Issues like street harassment and sexual violence are global; staying at home may seem like playing it safe, but gender-based violence crosses every border. This book tells the stories of various women in the United States and their experiences with street harassment. I believe it offers an important complement to the other books on my list: In order to embrace the solo travel journey, women must often first address the very real fears of harassment and violence, which we are socialized to carry with us no matter where we travel. To overcome these fears, it is important to first recognize and dissect them—and the patriarchal systems from which they have emerged.


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