100 books like Desert Solitaire

By Edward Abbey,

Here are 100 books that Desert Solitaire fans have personally recommended if you like Desert Solitaire. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Immeasurable World: Journeys in Desert Places

Nick Hunt Author Of Outlandish: Walking Europe’s Unlikely Landscapes

From my list on edeserts that capture their beauty and loneliness.

Why am I passionate about this?

Nick Hunt is a walker and writer about the landscapes and cultures of Europe. He is the author of Walking the Woods and the Water, Where the Wild Winds Are (both finalists for the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year), and a work of gonzo ornithology, The Parakeeting of London. His latest book, Outlandish, is an exploration of four of the continent’s strangest and most unlikely landscapes: arctic tundra in Scotland, primeval forest in Poland and Belarus, Europe’s only true desert in Spain, and the grassland steppes of Hungary.

Nick's book list on edeserts that capture their beauty and loneliness

Nick Hunt Why did Nick love this book?

Long fascinated by the accounts of travellers drawn to the world’s arid zones, as if by a strange magnetism, William Atkins immerses himself in deserts from Oman to Australia, Kazakhstan to the United States. The book is both a study of extreme environments and a deeply personal journey that often touches on the political: the Australian chapter becomes an excoriating attack on the British government’s use of the desert as a nuclear testing ground, which devastated Aboriginal communities. There are also some extremely funny parts, as when Atkins ends up in the debauchery of Nevada’s Burning Man festival, surely the most reluctant and awkward festival-goer who has ever graced its playa.

By William Atkins,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE STANFORD DOLMAN TRAVEL WRITING AWARD 2019

One third of the earth's land surface is desert, much of it desolate and inhospitable.

What is it about this harsh environment that has captivated humankind throughout history?

Travelling to five continents over three years, William Atkins discovers a realm that is as much internal as physical. From the contested borderlands of the USA to Australia's nuclear test zones, via Nevada's riotous Burning Man festival and the ancient monasteries of Egypt, he illuminates the people, history, nature and symbolism of these remarkable but often volatile places.


Book cover of The Oblivion Seekers

Nick Hunt Author Of Outlandish: Walking Europe’s Unlikely Landscapes

From my list on edeserts that capture their beauty and loneliness.

Why am I passionate about this?

Nick Hunt is a walker and writer about the landscapes and cultures of Europe. He is the author of Walking the Woods and the Water, Where the Wild Winds Are (both finalists for the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year), and a work of gonzo ornithology, The Parakeeting of London. His latest book, Outlandish, is an exploration of four of the continent’s strangest and most unlikely landscapes: arctic tundra in Scotland, primeval forest in Poland and Belarus, Europe’s only true desert in Spain, and the grassland steppes of Hungary.

Nick's book list on edeserts that capture their beauty and loneliness

Nick Hunt Why did Nick love this book?

With vivid, dream-like lucidity, these vignettes, stories and fragments describe the life and adventures of a truly extraordinary traveller: the daughter of Russian nihilists who moved to North Africa at the end of the nineteenth century, dressed and lived as a man, drank and smoked kif to excess, had numerous affairs, converted to Islam, was initiated into a Sufi sect, survived an assassination attempt and died in a freak flash flood at the age of only twenty-seven. The writing that survives is as fierce and as gloriously intense as the desert itself.

By Isabelle Eberhardt,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Stories and journal notes by an extraordinary young woman-adventurer and traveler, Arabic scholar, Sufi mystic and adept of the Djillala cult.

"Not long before her death Isabelle Eberhardt wrote: "No one ever lived more from day to day or was more dependent upon chance. It is the inescapable chain of events that has brought me to this point, rather than I who have caused these things to happen." Her life seems haphazard, at the mercy of caprice, but her writings prove otherwise. She did not make decisions; she was impelled to take action. Her nature combined an extraordinary singlness of…


Book cover of Wind, Sand and Stars

Kelly Cordes Author Of The Tower: A Chronicle of Climbing and Controversy on Cerro Torre

From my list on belief and finding meaning from the meaningless.

Why am I passionate about this?

Some thirty years ago, on a frozen waterfall near an old logging town in Montana, my life changed forever. A friend took me climbing. Almost instantly, upon leaving the ground, the mountains became my singular passion. I lived in run-down shacks and worked dead-end jobs, freeing myself to travel and to climb. Along the way I stumbled into an editorial job with the American Alpine Journal, where I worked for twelve years, deepening my knowledge of mountains, including the incomparable Cerro Torre. I know that climbing is overtly pointless. What we gain from it, however—what it demands and what we give in return—has immeasurable power.

Kelly's book list on belief and finding meaning from the meaningless

Kelly Cordes Why did Kelly love this book?

Saint-Exupery’s descriptions of what he sees and feels during enthralling activities amid stunning landscapes left me enchanted. The feelings he captures extend beyond the mere act of flying and into human relationships and our quest for meaning, written in beautiful, often philosophical prose. He approached flying as a metaphor for life and the human condition. Even if I will never fly, he made me care. 

By Antoine de Saint-Exupery,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Wind, Sand and Stars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

The National Book Award-winning autobiographical book about the wonder of flying from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of the beloved children's classic The Little Prince.

A National Geographic Top Ten Adventure Book of All Time

Recipient of the Grand Prix of the Académie Française, Wind, Sand and Stars captures the grandeur, danger, and isolation of flight. Its exciting account of air adventure, combined with lyrical prose and the spirit of a philosopher, makes it one of the most popular works ever written about flying.

Translated by Lewis Galantière.

"There are certain rare individuals...who by the mere fact of their existence put…


Creativity, Teaching, and Natural Inspiration

By Mark Doherty,

Book cover of Creativity, Teaching, and Natural Inspiration

Mark Doherty Author Of Creativity, Teaching, and Natural Inspiration

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a highly experienced outdoorsman, musician, songwriter, and backcountry guide who chose teaching as a day job. As a writer, however, I am a promoter of creative and literary nonfiction, especially nonfiction that features a thematic thread, whether it be philosophical, conservation, historical, or even unique experiential. The thread I used for thirty years of teaching high school and honors English was the thread of Conservation, as exemplified by authors like Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, Edward O. Wilson, Al Gore, Henry David Thoreau, as well as many other more contemporary authors.

Mark's book list on creative nonfiction books that entertain and teach through threaded essays and stories

What is my book about?

I have woven numerous delightful and descriptive true life stories, many from my adventures as an outdoorsman and singer songwriter, into my life as a high school English teacher. I think you'll find this work both entertaining as well as informative, and I hope you enjoy the often lighthearted repartee and dialogue that enhances the stories and experiences.

When I started teaching in the early 1990s, I brought into the classroom with me my passions for nature, folk music, and creativity. This book holds something new and engaging with every chapter and can be enjoyed by all sorts of readers, particularly those who enjoy nonfiction that employs wit, wisdom, humor, and even some down-to-earth philosophy.

Creativity, Teaching, and Natural Inspiration

By Mark Doherty,

What is this book about?

Creativity, Teaching, and Natural Inspiration follows the evolution of a high school English teacher as he develops a creative and innovative teaching style despite being juxtaposed against a public education system bent on didactic, normalizing regulations and political demands. Doherty crafts an engaging nonfiction story that utilizes memoir, anecdote, poetry, and dialogue to explore how mixing creativity and pedagogy can change the way budding students visualize creative writing: A chunk of firewood plunked on a classroom table becomes part of a sawmill, a mine timber, an Anasazi artifact...it also becomes a poem, a song, an essay, and a memoir. The…


Book cover of Seven Pillars of Wisdom

Ben Wiener Author Of Murder at First Principles

From my list on non-business reads that teach business strategy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an experienced entrepreneur and venture capitalist and a voracious reader. My reading, particularly of non-business books, is motivated not just by a natural curiosity, but is also driven by a continuous search for metaphors and lessons from outside the traditional business genre that I can apply to situations and decisions in the business arena. My appreciation of the crossover benefit of non-business narratives to business contexts has motivated me to write my own Business Fiction works to “enlighten and entertain.” 

Ben's book list on non-business reads that teach business strategy

Ben Wiener Why did Ben love this book?

Yes, that T.E. Lawrence, of “Lawrence of Arabia” fame.

Turns out that not only was he an exquisite writer, but his account of his years as a British officer who self-embedded with Arab tribesmen during the First World War provides deep lessons for business success.

For starters, just because you’re highly intelligent and educated (Oxford, in his case), don’t assume you must agree with your superiors or yourself about the true motivations and interest of your customers, until you get to know them intimately.

Walk a mile in their shoes – or perhaps thousands of miles in their sandals – and then you might get insights about how to best work with them that might surprise you, and run counter to your prior presumptions.

By T. E. Lawrence,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Seven Pillars of Wisdom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With an Introduction by Angus Calder.

As Angus Calder states in his introduction to this edition, 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom is one of the major statements about the fighting experience of the First World War'. Lawrence's younger brothers, Frank and Will, had been killed on the Western Front in 1915. Seven Pillars of Wisdom, written between 1919 and 1926, tells of the vastly different campaign against the Turks in the Middle East - one which encompasses gross acts of cruelty and revenge and ends in a welter of stink and corpses in the disgusting 'hospital' in Damascus.

Seven Pillars of…


Book cover of The Outermost House: A Year of Life on the Great Beach of Cape Cod

John Sunderland Author Of On My Way to Jorvik: a humorous memoir of how a boy with a vision became a radical designer

From my list on books by descriptive popularists with humour.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a storyteller. I studied graphic design, animation, and film and became the title designer of Yorkshire Television’s game show 3*2*1 and directed an art-directed film and animation for British television and cinema. I was the Project Designer of the original Jorvik Viking Centre (1984). By 2008 I designed and built 25 award-winning cultural heritage centres and completed 150 international consultancies, producing and directing my exhibition documentaries. I learned how important writing was to my work. When it came down to it, whatever technique I used in the telling, there was always the story behind it as the way to transport the audience into a mentally immersive experience.

John's book list on books by descriptive popularists with humour

John Sunderland Why did John love this book?

I love Cape Cod and I was fortunate to live on the edge of the sea between 1997-2003. Skillfully written by one of America’s greatest writers of the natural habitat, it transports you to a place. It reminds me of what it felt like to live far out in Cape Cod on the North Atlantic at its furthest reach on the east coast of the United States. Living there for several years and spending time in nature with the sea, beach, dunes, and my bicycle, I learned to love its moods, wildlife, and great sense of mystery. I totally identified with this man’s extraordinary experience and how it was years ago. A wonderfully descriptive book that helps you experience with all your senses what it’s like to live next to the sea alone. 

By Henry Beston,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The seventy-fifth anniversary edition of the classic book about Cape Cod, "written with simplicity, sympathy, and beauty" (New York Herald Tribune)

A chronicle of a solitary year spent on a Cape Cod beach, The Outermost House has long been recognized as a classic of American nature writing. Henry Beston had originally planned to spend just two weeks in his seaside home, but was so possessed by the mysterious beauty of his surroundings that he found he "could not go."

Instead, he sat down to try and capture in words the wonders of the magical landscape he found himself in thrall…


Book cover of Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape

Bill Murray Author Of Out in the Cold: Travels North: Adventures in Svalbard, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland and Canada

From my list on to understand the high north.

Why am I passionate about this?

There’s nothing like personal experience. You have to read the literature, it’s true. That’s how we’ve all met here at Shepherd. But you have to roll up your sleeves and get down to visiting, too, if you want to write about travel. I first approached the Arctic in 1991 and I return above sixty degrees north every year, although I must confess to a secret advantage; I married a Finn. We spend summers at a little cabin north of Helsinki. I know the region personally, I keep coming back, and I invite you, whenever you can, to come up and join us!

Bill's book list on to understand the high north

Bill Murray Why did Bill love this book?

Barry Lopez was a nature writer and environmentalist.

He died on Christmas day 2020, and although we are fortunate to have his valedictory book Horizon, published when his traveling days were pretty well behind him, Arctic Dreams is the real deal, with Lopez as raconteur, but practitioner too, thoroughly in his element.

Lopez writes about exploration and the aurora, animals and the weather, ice and myth and survival and joy. He’s effortless. You’ll learn more than you knew there was to know about the high north, and the pleasure is in the learning.

If you must cut to the chase with these five books, Arctic Dreams is the book, because Barry Lopez got things right.

By Barry Lopez,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Arctic Dreams as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

**AS HEARD ON BBC RADIO 4**

'A master nature writer' (New York Times) provides the ultimate natural, social and cultural history of the Arctic landscape.

The author of Horizon's classic work explores the Arctic landscape and the hold it continues to exert on our imagination.

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY ROBERT MACFARLANE

Lopez's journey across our frozen planet is a celebration of the Arctic in all its guises. A hostile landscape of ice, freezing oceans and dazzling skyscapes. Home to millions of diverse animals and people. The stage to massive migrations by land, sea and air. The setting of epic exploratory…


Book cover of Travels with Charley in Search of America

Eyal Halfon Author Of They Were Here Before Us: Stories from Our First Million Years

From my list on traveling the world from your armchair.

Why am I passionate about this?

Long before I became a filmmaker and many years before I knew what pre-history meant, I was a restless traveler. I was an adventurer and a hiker, fascinated by maps and mountain peaks and constantly searching for the best place for a coffee break. In my list, I have tried to combine my passion for traveling with what is really important in life: people, friends, and travel companions.

Eyal's book list on traveling the world from your armchair

Eyal Halfon Why did Eyal love this book?

I wish I could be there, in the back seat of Steinbeck’s pickup truck…with a 10-year-old French poodle named Charlie.

Steinbeck's travelogue is a farewell to the America he knew and an observation of a country that is changing before his eyes. What a joy it could have been to join this great writer (and the poodle) if only for a part of his 10,000-mile road trip across the USA at the beginning of the 60s.

By John Steinbeck,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Travels with Charley in Search of America as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An intimate journey across America, as told by one of its most beloved writers

To hear the speech of the real America, to smell the grass and the trees, to see the colors and the light-these were John Steinbeck's goals as he set out, at the age of fifty-eight, to rediscover the country he had been writing about for so many years.

With Charley, his French poodle, Steinbeck drives the interstates and the country roads, dines with truckers, encounters bears at Yellowstone and old friends in San Francisco. Along the way he reflects on the American character, racial hostility, the…


Book cover of Blue Highways

Kayla Anderson Author Of Moon Northern California Road Trip: Drives along the Coast, Redwoods, and Mountains with the Best Stops along the Way

From my list on embarking on epic adventures from your armchair.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born and raised in Northern California, right on the banks of the Sacramento River. While I didn’t realize it growing up, it was an epicenter for outdoor adventures. Along with skiing, snowboarding, hiking, wakeboarding, and camping, I always read a lot. My dad was worried that I would have no sense of direction because I was always in the back of our van or RV reading a book. That led to writing…and I had my first article published in a wakeboarding magazine when I was 15 years old. Traveling always took a backburner to reading, but now it’s front and center of my writing. 

Kayla's book list on embarking on epic adventures from your armchair

Kayla Anderson Why did Kayla love this book?

This is classic literature in the realm of American travel.

I had no idea that “blue highways” existed, and even though Heat-Moon went cross-country back in the 1970s in his van equipped with his igloo cooler and makeshift bed (not like the $100k fancy campers you find today), the type of people you meet and experiences you have in this amazing country are still relevant today.

In Blue Highways Revisited, I was shocked to read how long it took for this book to get published and the stacks of printed-out drafts he had of it (I think it was like four feet high). If there are any travel writing classes taught as part of a creative writing program, then Blue Highways better be on the list. 

By William Least Heat-Moon,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Blue Highways as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hailed as a masterpiece of American travel writing, Blue Highways is an unforgettable journey along our nation's backroads.
William Least Heat-Moon set out with little more than the need to put home behind him and a sense of curiosity about "those little towns that get on the map -- if they get on at all -- only because some cartographer has a blank space to fill: Remote, Oregon; Simplicity, Virginia; New Freedom, Pennsylvania; New Hope, Tennessee; Why, Arizona; Whynot, Mississippi."
His adventures, his discoveries, and his recollections of the extraordinary people he encountered along the way amount to a revelation…


Book cover of Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West

Xaq Frohlich Author Of From Label to Table: Regulating Food in America in the Information Age

From my list on explain the origins of our industrial food system.

Why am I passionate about this?

People tend to think of food as being simple and self-evident, or at least feel it should be. In fact, almost every aspect of modern food has been dramatically reshaped by science and technology. Something that fascinates me as a historian is thinking about past transformations in our foodways and how they explain the social tensions and political struggles we live with today. My book From Label to Table tells a biography of the food label, using it as a prism to explore Americans’ anxieties about industrial foodways. I found these books to be an excellent primer for understanding the emergence of America’s packaged food economy and its many problems.

Xaq's book list on explain the origins of our industrial food system

Xaq Frohlich Why did Xaq love this book?

Nature’s Metropolis is a rare work that transforms scholarship, yet whose easy flow and engaging tone make it approachable for non-specialists.

Its main arguments —how humans and cities are embedded in nature, the interwoven, strained ties between rural and urban, and how technologies transformed our connection to nature— are guiding themes of my own work. 

Reading the passage in this book about a sack’s journey, on how grain moved from farm to market before and after the appearance of the train in the West, was the spark that lit my imagination on how packaging transformed modern foodways.

By William Cronon,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Nature's Metropolis as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this groundbreaking work, William Cronon gives us an environmental perspective on the history of nineteenth-century America. By exploring the ecological and economic changes that made Chicago America's most dynamic city and the Great West its hinterland, Mr. Cronon opens a new window onto our national past. This is the story of city and country becoming ever more tightly bound in a system so powerful that it reshaped the American landscape and transformed American culture. The world that emerged is our own.

Winner of the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize


Book cover of A Sand County Almanac: And Sketches Here and There

Greg M. Peters Author Of Our National Forests: Stories from America's Most Important Public Lands

From my list on people who love outdoors and want to learn more.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love being outdoors and I’ve been fortunate to spend much of life under the open sky, both professionally and personally. Learning about the landscapes I’ve visited on my outdoor adventures or helped protect through my professional conservation and writing work is both fulfilling and inspiring. Skilled writers deepen my understanding of the diverse, intricate, and complicated natural world. Whether I’m reading to better understand the policies and histories that have shaped our public lands or about the adventurers who inspire me to get out there, I always find immense value and enjoyment when reading about the landscapes we share. 

Greg's book list on people who love outdoors and want to learn more

Greg M. Peters Why did Greg love this book?

Aldo Leopold was a Forest Service ranger stationed in New Mexico’s Gila National Forest when he first began advocating for a new approach to managing national forests. Leopold’s visionary thinking and diligent advocacy resulted in the first-ever Wilderness Area in the U.S.—the Gila Wilderness Area, established in 1922—more than 40 years before the Wilderness Act was passed by Congress in 1964. A Sand County Almanac is Leopold’s best-known work and follows his efforts to restore a patch of cut-over farmland in Wisconsin while also articulating his vision of a land ethic where humans and nature are intertwined and care for people cannot be separated from care for the land. His beautiful writing resonated strongly with me when I first read A Sand County Almanac more than two decades ago, and his vision remains as important now as ever.

By Aldo Leopold,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked A Sand County Almanac as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac has enthralled generations of nature lovers and conservationists and is indeed revered by everyone seriously interested in protecting the natural world. Hailed for prose that is "full of beauty and vigor and bite" (The New York Times), it is perhaps the finest example of nature writing since Thoreau's Walden.
Now this classic work is available in a completely redesigned and lavishly illustrated gift edition, featuring over one hundred beautiful full-color pictures by Michael Sewell, one of the country's leading nature photographers. Sewell, whose work has graced the pages of Audubon and Sierra magazines, walked…


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