40 books like Behind the Paddle

By Alistair Wilson,

Here are 40 books that Behind the Paddle fans have personally recommended if you like Behind the Paddle. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Pub Paddles

By Peter Knowles,

Book cover of Pub Paddles: The Best Short Paddling Trips in the South of England

Stuart Fisher Author Of Canals of Britain: A Comprehensive Guide

From the list on our canals, rivers, and coast.

Who am I?

I was fortunate enough to take up white water kayaks as a student in Scotland, eventually becoming a member of the British wild water racing team. The portable nature of these craft makes it easy to move from one stretch of water to another. I subsequently became the editor of Canoeist (by accident) and have travelled all the major British canals, the larger lochs, the entire mainland coast, and many other waters, producing guides that have been found useful for those on the water, on foot, on bikes or in armchairs.

Stuart's book list on our canals, rivers, and coast

Why did Stuart love this book?

Pub walks books are common enough.

You drive there and tie in a walk with a visit to the pub. This is different. You paddle to the pub.

Over two dozen routes in the southeast of England are suggested, between Cambridge and Southampton, some to popular river or canal destinations, some more off the beaten track. Much attention is paid to the interests of kids.

The trips are graded by scenery, length, time, difficulty level, National Trust properties, castles, and canoe hire availability, with attention paid to people with physical difficulties or needing to rely on trains.

I have to declare an interest in this one, being involved in the layout of the content.

By Peter Knowles,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For all kinds of paddle boards, canoes, kayaks and inflatables. This is an inspiring, beautifully designed guidebook with full details of 26 easy but interesting paddling trips, mostly 1-3 hours long, and within an hour or two of London. They are family-friendly, provide good access and parking, include pubs and tea shops; castles, camping and canoe hire. This title was produced in association with Canoe England and all trips have been thoroughly researched, selected, and tested by Peter Knowles - a famous expedition paddler. Reviewers consistently call this "a brilliant guide book".


River, Coast and Creek

By Judith Ellis,

Book cover of River, Coast and Creek: An Exploration of Maritime Essex

Stuart Fisher Author Of Canals of Britain: A Comprehensive Guide

From the list on our canals, rivers, and coast.

Who am I?

I was fortunate enough to take up white water kayaks as a student in Scotland, eventually becoming a member of the British wild water racing team. The portable nature of these craft makes it easy to move from one stretch of water to another. I subsequently became the editor of Canoeist (by accident) and have travelled all the major British canals, the larger lochs, the entire mainland coast, and many other waters, producing guides that have been found useful for those on the water, on foot, on bikes or in armchairs.

Stuart's book list on our canals, rivers, and coast

Why did Stuart love this book?

This is the third and final part of the author's trilogy on the East Anglian coastline, covering Essex, the previous two featuring Norfolk and Suffolk.

With her background in sailing, it is not so much a gazetteer as a wonderful medley of all things nautical as she goes off at a tangent time after time to fill in colour on the Essex coast, accompanied by her sketches and sketch maps.

Here are geology with the inundation of what has become the North Sea, human evolution, the Cinque Ports, the Hudson Bay Company, pocket submarines, sailing boat types, salt production, smuggling, Samuel Pepys, the Battle of Maldon, Anglo Saxons, oysters and other seafood, classic yacht racing, the Beagle, monsters, mermaids, the Great Lakes and much more.

By Judith Ellis,

Why should I read it?

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


The Canoe Boys

By Alastair Dunnett,

Book cover of The Canoe Boys: The First Epic Scottish Sea Journey by Kayak

Stuart Fisher Author Of Canals of Britain: A Comprehensive Guide

From the list on our canals, rivers, and coast.

Who am I?

I was fortunate enough to take up white water kayaks as a student in Scotland, eventually becoming a member of the British wild water racing team. The portable nature of these craft makes it easy to move from one stretch of water to another. I subsequently became the editor of Canoeist (by accident) and have travelled all the major British canals, the larger lochs, the entire mainland coast, and many other waters, producing guides that have been found useful for those on the water, on foot, on bikes or in armchairs.

Stuart's book list on our canals, rivers, and coast

Why did Stuart love this book?

Faced with publishing debts after their boys' adventure magazine failed, two young men, the author, and James Adams, undertook a kayak expedition in the mid-1930s up the Scottish west coast from the Clyde to Mull, raising funds by selling reports to the press.

They learned much of the remote and deprived Highland economy, which stood the author in good stead later, editing the Daily Record and The Scotsman.

A long trip, including helping to take in the harvest in the autumn, it involved canvas kayaks, kilts, and buying provisions from farms, much more onerous than kit for present-day expeditions.

Originally published as Quest by Canoe, this version includes significant extra material, including press cuttings.

By Alastair Dunnett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

After being left with no work, Alastair Dunnett and James Adam decided to repay their debts by canoeing from the Clyde to the Hebrides. This text is a collection of the dispatches from their journey they sold to a newspaper in order to make money.


Book cover of Joss Naylor's Lakes, Meres and Waters of the Lake District: Loweswater to Over Water: 105 miles in the footsteps of a legend

Stuart Fisher Author Of Canals of Britain: A Comprehensive Guide

From the list on our canals, rivers, and coast.

Who am I?

I was fortunate enough to take up white water kayaks as a student in Scotland, eventually becoming a member of the British wild water racing team. The portable nature of these craft makes it easy to move from one stretch of water to another. I subsequently became the editor of Canoeist (by accident) and have travelled all the major British canals, the larger lochs, the entire mainland coast, and many other waters, producing guides that have been found useful for those on the water, on foot, on bikes or in armchairs.

Stuart's book list on our canals, rivers, and coast

Why did Stuart love this book?

In 1983 the 47-year-old fell runner Joss Naylor set a record of 19 hours 14 minutes for touching all 27 relevant lakes in the Lake District.

His astonishing time for this 169km run still stands. This was not on the flat, of course, but often over rough country, involving over 6km of vertical height gain.

He had to prepare his support team, find his own route and have witnesses at each lake in the days before mobile phones or satnav. The author walked the route in 2020 with a photographer and Joss in 10 days, still not hanging about for a man in his 80s.

Joss chose to donate his royalties for this inspirational book to the Brathay Trust, which helps the disadvantaged, match funded by publishers Cicerone.

By Vivienne Crow,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Joss Naylor's Lakes, Meres and Waters of the Lake District as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

King of the Fells. Iron man. Lake District fell running legend. Joss Naylor is all of these things and more. His achievements are astounding, his records stand the test of time. In 1983 he completed the 105-mile Lakes, Meres and Waters (LMW) route in a staggering 19hr 14min and to this day, describes it as one of the best routes he ever ran. High praise indeed and yet, so few know of it.

Part guidebook, part inspirational regaling, this book interweaves tales of past and present as Naylor reflects on his 1983 epic on a re-walk 37 years later. In…


The Only Kayak

By Kim Heacox,

Book cover of The Only Kayak: A Journey into the Heart of Alaska

Dave Atcheson Author Of Dead Reckoning: Navigating a Life on the Last Frontier, Courting Tragedy on Its High Seas

From the list on true Alaskan stories of adventure and inspiration.

Who am I?

To me there is a connection to something larger than myself, an overriding sense of spirit that I only seem to encounter in the outdoors, beneath the canopy of old-growth forest, or within the gaze of ancient snow-capped peaks. Since arriving in Alaska over 30 years ago it is something I have continually sought among this state’s striking landscape and in many of my own adventures here. It's an attitude, a sensibility I also seek in the stories I read, an authenticity tied to place, but also an inclination toward hope and optimism, even a tenuous one, that we can all relate to; a sentiment I have always tried to incorporate into my own writing.

Dave's book list on true Alaskan stories of adventure and inspiration

Why did Dave love this book?

Though this book is 17 years old, it is still a compelling memoir about a young man’s journey to find his “place” in Alaska, and the exploits he has along the way. Heacox describes in elegant detail his paddling adventures, encounters with wildlife, his work as a ranger, and his struggle with humanity and how we are all, including himself, tampering with the natural world we love. A wonderful personal adventure interspersed with rich characters, history, and internal conflict.

By Kim Heacox,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this coming-of-middle-age memoir, Kim Heacox, writing in the tradition of Abbey, McPhee, and Thoreau, discovers an Alaska reborn from beneath a massive glacier, where flowers emerge from boulders, moose swim fjords, and bears cross crevasses with Homeric resolve. In such a place Heacox finds that people are reborn too, and their lives begin anew with incredible journeys, epiphanies, and successes. All in an America free of crass commercialism and overdevelopment.

Braided through the larger story are tales of gold prospectors and the cabin they built sixty years ago; John Muir and his intrepid terrier, Stickeen; and a dynamic geology…


Andorra

By Peter Cameron,

Book cover of Andorra

Stephen McCauley Author Of The Easy Way out

From the list on for readers to travel who hate to leave the house.

Who am I?

For much of the 1980s, I worked at a travel agency in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The travel benefits back then were amazing. Like most of my hippie-ish colleagues, I’d return from one trip and immediately plan the next. I was on a tour of Egypt (ten days for $300!) when I acknowledged I liked the idea of travel more than the reality. I was reading Flaubert’s letters to his mother from Egypt, and his descriptions seemed more real than the landscape in front of me. I still like getting on airplanes, but traveling through literature is the cheaper and, for me, more broadening experience.  

Stephen's book list on for readers to travel who hate to leave the house

Why did Stephen love this book?

Peter Cameron is one the most stylish and original writers working today.

This novel from 1997 is a vivid, haunting journey to an imaginary version of Andorra. I’m tempted to say that the whole arc of the story is an armchair voyage, but to elaborate would give away the ending, which is one of the more thrilling, shocking, and satisfying final pages I know. I sometimes reread the book to see how Cameron pulled it off.

The narrator, who says he’s in Andorra after a tragic event, moves into the Hotel Excelsior, a setting that becomes a character. The entire novel has the disorienting immediacy of a fever dream and an undercurrent of ambisexual tension and sensuality, all served up with Cameron’s incisive wit. 

By Peter Cameron,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

At the start of this novel, a man arrives in the tiny, mysterious nation of Andorra, having left behind his life in America after a terrible tragedy. The world he finds in La Plata, the capital city, is beautiful, enchanted, and somehow not quite real. As he meets the city's inhabitants - the ancient Mrs. Reinhardt, who outlives her lifetime lease on the penthouse in the city's grand hotel; Sophonsobia Quay, the kayaking matriarch of an Andorran dynasty; and the Dents, an Australian couple who share a first name, a gigantic dog, and a volatile secret - the mystery of…


Hosting the Olympic Games

By John Rennie Short,

Book cover of Hosting the Olympic Games: The Real Costs for Cities

Jacqueline Kennelly Author Of Olympic Exclusions: Youth, Poverty and Social Legacies

From the list on the Olympics that the IOC doesn’t want you to know.

Who am I?

I wasn’t really interested in the Olympics until they came knocking at my door. I lived in Vancouver during the 2010 Winter Olympics Bid. When a plebiscite was called, the Yes side plastered the city with billboards explaining why everyone should want the Olympics. Simultaneously, a much less resourced but vocal opposition argued that hosting would be an environmental, social, and economic disaster. The two sides were so far apart that my curiosity was piqued. When I began a postdoctoral fellowship in the UK, I realized that they, too, were in the midst of similar debates, as hosts of the 2012 Summer Olympics. From here a research project was born.

Jacqueline's book list on the Olympics that the IOC doesn’t want you to know

Why did Jacqueline love this book?

John R. Short is another scholar who has been blowing the whistle on the hidden costs of Olympic Games, especially for host cities, for many years.

In this recent release, written for a popular audience, he provides some history of the Games, but, more importantly, a step-by-step breakdown of why the Olympics costs cities much more than the IOC or bidding committees would like you to believe.

He also includes a thorough list of ‘further reading’ resources (and my book plus almost all of the authors on this list are on it!).

By John Rennie Short,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hosting the Olympic Games as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hosting the Olympic Games reveals the true costs involved for the cities that hold these large-scale sporting events. It uncovers the financing of the Games, reviewing existing studies to evaluate the costs and benefits, and draws on case study experiences of the Summer and Winter Games from the past forty years to assess the short- and long-term urban legacies for host cities.

Written in an easily accessible style and format, it provides an in-depth critical analysis into the franchise model of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and offers an alternative vision for future Games. This book is an important contribution…


Rome 1960

By David Maraniss,

Book cover of Rome 1960: The Olympics That Changed the World

Mike Sielski Author Of The Rise: Kobe Bryant and the Pursuit of Immortality

From the list on going beyond the final score.

Who am I?

I immersed myself in sports when I was young. Watched every game. Knew every statistic and piece of trivia. Lived and died with my favorite teams’ fortunes. But as I aged and became a writer, the outcomes of the games mattered less and less to me. The sports themselves mattered less and less. What mattered were the stories that I could uncover and tell—stories that, by the nature of sports and competition, branched into all the themes and fields of the human condition.

Mike's book list on going beyond the final score

Why did Mike love this book?

Maraniss is best known for his terrific biographies of Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Vince Lombardi; some consider that last one, When Pride Still Mattered, the best sports book ever written.

But Rome 1960, his narrative of the 1960 Summer Olympics, is my favorite. The reason is timing. I read it in 2008 while I was working on my second book. Each morning, I’d consume Maraniss’ smooth prose, which was fortified by the depth of his research.

Each afternoon and evening, inspired, I’d write some of my book, trying my damnedest to equal him, always falling short, of course, but thrilled in the attempt.

By David Maraniss,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rome 1960 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An account of the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome reveals the competition's unexpected influence on the modern world, in a narrative synopsis that pays tribute to such athletes as Cassius Clay and Wilma Rudolph while evaluating the roles of Cold War propaganda, civil rights, and politics. 250,000 first printing.


Understanding the Olympics

By John Horne, Garry Whannel,

Book cover of Understanding the Olympics

Jacqueline Kennelly Author Of Olympic Exclusions: Youth, Poverty and Social Legacies

From the list on the Olympics that the IOC doesn’t want you to know.

Who am I?

I wasn’t really interested in the Olympics until they came knocking at my door. I lived in Vancouver during the 2010 Winter Olympics Bid. When a plebiscite was called, the Yes side plastered the city with billboards explaining why everyone should want the Olympics. Simultaneously, a much less resourced but vocal opposition argued that hosting would be an environmental, social, and economic disaster. The two sides were so far apart that my curiosity was piqued. When I began a postdoctoral fellowship in the UK, I realized that they, too, were in the midst of similar debates, as hosts of the 2012 Summer Olympics. From here a research project was born.

Jacqueline's book list on the Olympics that the IOC doesn’t want you to know

Why did Jacqueline love this book?

If you want a broader overview of where the modern Olympics came from, why they have persisted, and what major issues they continue to face, look no further than Understanding the Olympics by John Horne and Garry Whannel.

This book is now in its third edition, and with each update, Horne and Whannel keep the book on top of the most recent Olympics shenanigans. Although not exclusively critical of the Games, Horne and Whannel provide a thorough overview of the pros and cons of these massive mobile mega-events.

By John Horne, Garry Whannel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

How did the Olympics evolve into a multi-national phenomenon? How can the Olympics help us to understand the relationship between sport and society? What will be the impact and legacy of the Olympics after Tokyo in 2020? Understanding the Olympics answers all these questions by exploring the social, cultural, political, historical, and economic context of the Games.

This thoroughly revised and updated edition discusses recent attempts at future proofing by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in the face of growing global anti-Olympic activism, the changing geo-political context within which the Olympics take place, and the Olympic histories of the next…


Book cover of Beautiful on the Outside: A Memoir

Ryan Stevens Author Of Jackson Haines: The Skating King

From the list on figure skating biographies you'll ever read.

Who am I?

I'm a Canadian author and figure skating historian. I have written about the sport's fascinating past for over a decade. My innate curiosity about skating history dates back to the days of BETA tapes and card catalogs. Long before YouTube and social media, the only insights we often had about skater's stories were small nuggets of information passed on in television broadcasts and magazines. Figure skating biographies are a rare treat, allowing us to really get to know the people behind the skating performances we love. I'm absolutely delighted to share with you a skating biography of my own - the true story of The Father of Figure Skating - Jackson Haines. 

Ryan's book list on figure skating biographies you'll ever read

Why did Ryan love this book?

I don't see how anyone couldn't love Adam Rippon. Not only is he a gorgeous skater... he has an absolutely killer sense of humour!

What is particularly refreshing about this particularly autobiography is that Adam doesn't take himself too seriously. He's not afraid to be matter-of-fact and have a laugh about some of the setbacks he faced during his skating career. If you're looking for a refreshing and fun skating memoir, this one is completely out of the box.

By Adam Rippon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Beautiful on the Outside as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


Former Olympic figure skater and self-professed America's Sweetheart Adam Rippon shares his underdog journey from beautiful mess to outrageous success in this hilarious, big-hearted memoir that the Washington Post calls "comedic gold."

Your mom probably told you it's what on the inside that counts. Well, then she was never a competitive figure skater. Olympic medalist Adam Rippon has been making it pretty for the judges even when, just below the surface, everything was an absolute mess. From traveling to practices on the Greyhound bus next to ex convicts to being so poor he could only afford to eat the free…


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