100 books like The Consolations of the Forest

By Sylvain Tesson, Linda Coverdale (translator),

Here are 100 books that The Consolations of the Forest fans have personally recommended if you like The Consolations of the Forest. 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 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 The Nomad: Diaries of Isabelle Eberhardt

Louisa Waugh Author Of Hearing Birds Fly: A Nomadic Year in Mongolia

From my list on the intimate lives of landscapes.

Why am I passionate about this?

Louisa Waugh is a writer, blogger, and the prize-winning author of three non-fiction books: Hearing Birds Fly, Selling Olga, and Meet Me in Gaza. She has lived and worked in the Middle East, Central and West Africa, and is a conflict adviser for an international peace-building organisation. She blogs at The Waugh Zone and currently lives in Brighton, on the southern English coast, where she kayaks and drinks red wine on the beach, usually not at the same time.

Louisa's book list on the intimate lives of landscapes

Louisa Waugh Why did Louisa love this book?

Isabelle Eberhardt was born in 1877. She was “a crossdresser and sensualist, an experienced drug taker and a transgressor of boundaries”. Born in Switzerland, she crossed the Sahara Desert on horseback dressed as a male marabout, driven by a hunger for nomadic adventures, and for love. Isabelle’s evocative diaries are intense, beautifully written, self-centred and dramatic, occasionally very funny. She fell madly in love with the Sahara, was accused of being a spy, married a young Algerian soldier, and drowned in a desert flash flood at the age of 27. This book is about a short life that burned radiantly and the desiccated landscape that mirrored her intensity.

By Isabelle Eberhardt,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Nomad as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Eberhardt's journal chronicles the daring adventures of a late 19th-century European woman who traveled the Sahara desert disguised as an Arab man and adopted Islam. Includes a glossary. Previously published in English by Virago Press in 1987, and as The Passionate Nomad by Virago/Beacon Press in 19


Book cover of The Journals Of A White Sea Wolf

Louisa Waugh Author Of Hearing Birds Fly: A Nomadic Year in Mongolia

From my list on the intimate lives of landscapes.

Why am I passionate about this?

Louisa Waugh is a writer, blogger, and the prize-winning author of three non-fiction books: Hearing Birds Fly, Selling Olga, and Meet Me in Gaza. She has lived and worked in the Middle East, Central and West Africa, and is a conflict adviser for an international peace-building organisation. She blogs at The Waugh Zone and currently lives in Brighton, on the southern English coast, where she kayaks and drinks red wine on the beach, usually not at the same time.

Louisa's book list on the intimate lives of landscapes

Louisa Waugh Why did Louisa love this book?

In 1991, Mariusz Wilk, a Polish journalist long fascinated by the mysteries of the Russian soul, moved to the Solovki islands, a lonely archipelago amidst the far northern shores of Russia’s White Sea. He lived on one of these islands for seven years, and came to know every single one of its thousand residents. His sparse, heartfelt account of these islands that are dominated by the powerful interwoven forces of religion, politics, and the Arctic, is unconventional, and well worth the challenge. He pierces beneath the skin and the ice of this remote community and slowly begins to unravel the complexities and contradictions of Russia’s history and her landscapes.

By Mariusz Wilk,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Journals Of A White Sea Wolf as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1991 Mariusz Wilk, a Polish journalist long fascinated by the mysteries of the Russian soul, decided to take up residence in the Solovki islands, a lonely archipelago lost amid the far northern reaches of Russia's White Sea. For Wilk these islands represented the quintessence of Russia: a place of exile and a microcosm of the crumbling Soviet empire. On the one hand, they were a cradle of the Orthodox faith and home to an important monastery; on the other, it was here that the first experimental gulag was built after the 1917 revolution. Over the course of years Wilk…


Book cover of The Book Smugglers of Timbuktu

Diane Lemieux Author Of Culture Smart! Canada

From my list on understanding the locals.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in Quebec, have lived in eleven countries, and speak four languages. In my 20+ years as an author and journalist, my goal has always been to create bridges between cultures and to tell stories that enable individuals to better understand each other. For me, a trip to a new country, no matter how short or long, is incomplete unless I’ve had the chance to meet locals.

Diane's book list on understanding the locals

Diane Lemieux Why did Diane love this book?

This book is a ‘gold standard’ piece of investigative journalism, a travelogue about a people I will probably never meet, rolled into the intriguing history of a unique city.

The book interweaves the tale of the efforts local people made to save priceless manuscripts from al-Qaida in 2012 with the West’s fascination of fabled Timbuktu since the 18th century.

It is an un-put-downable example of creative non-fiction at its most interesting and easily readable.

By Charlie English,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Book Smugglers of Timbuktu as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Two tales of a city: The historical race to reach one of the world's most mythologized places, and the story of how a contemporary band of archivists and librarians, fighting to save its ancient manuscripts from destruction at the hands of al Qaeda, added another layer to the legend.

The fabled city of Timbuktu has captured the Western imagination for centuries. The search for this 'African El Dorado' cost the lives of many explorers but Timbuktu is rich beyond its legends. Home to many thousands of ancient manuscripts on poetry, history, religion, law, pharmacology and astronomy, the city has been…


Book cover of A Book of Silence

Louisa Waugh Author Of Hearing Birds Fly: A Nomadic Year in Mongolia

From my list on the intimate lives of landscapes.

Why am I passionate about this?

Louisa Waugh is a writer, blogger, and the prize-winning author of three non-fiction books: Hearing Birds Fly, Selling Olga, and Meet Me in Gaza. She has lived and worked in the Middle East, Central and West Africa, and is a conflict adviser for an international peace-building organisation. She blogs at The Waugh Zone and currently lives in Brighton, on the southern English coast, where she kayaks and drinks red wine on the beach, usually not at the same time.

Louisa's book list on the intimate lives of landscapes

Louisa Waugh Why did Louisa love this book?

Of all the destinations we can and do explore during our lives, our internal landscape is the most intimate. Without silence, how do we begin to know ourselves, and to see ourselves for who we really are? Sara Maitland moved from being a chatterer to “a silence hunter,” seeking out spaces where she could live alone and savour silent solitude. Her book explores histories and landscapes of silence, from contemplatives to explorers. She nails the difference between bad silence (the kind most of us are terrified of) and the spaciousness of prolonged silence that, eventually, becomes a state of bliss. Don’t be put off by the apparent seriousness of this subject: Sara might be a religious reclusive, but she writes in accessible prose that, ironically, induces the sense you could almost be having a drink together. It’s a brilliant book.

By Sara Maitland,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

After a noisy upbringing as one of six children, and adulthood as a vocal feminist and mother, Sara Maitland began to crave silence. Over the past five years, she has spent periods of silence in the Sinai Desert and the Australian bush and on the Isle of Skye. She interweaves these experiences with the history of silence told through fairy tale and myth, Western and Eastern religious traditions, the Enlightenment and psychoanalysis, up to the ambivalence towards silence in contemporary society. Maitland has built a hermitage on an isolated Scottish moor, and the book culminates powerfully with her experiences of…


Book cover of Independent People

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?

Iceland is one of the first off-the-beaten-track places I visited as an aspiring young travel writer and I arrived with the onset of the first Gulf War - the one against Saddam Hussein.

I visited with three other people. We immediately met a man in Reykjavik who introduced us to his diplomat friend, and before it was all said and done we spent most of that trip with the Icelander and the Frenchman in front of a much more rudimentary CNN, watching the war.

While I’ve been back to Iceland a number of times since, that first trip, the instant friendships, and the very odd experience of watching war in the desert from up at the Arctic Circle, sealed the deal for me about visiting the far north, and indirectly led to my own later book.

Halldor Laxness is the greatest of Icelandic authors and Independent People is very nearly…

By Halldor Laxness,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Set in Iceland, this story is imbued with the lyrical force of medieval ballads and Nordic myth.


Book cover of A Frozen Hell: The Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1939-1940

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?

“Helsinki, 10:30 a.m., November 30, 1939. Soviet bombers drop from a cloud bank to unload their bombs on the capital city of Finland.

In the weeks to come the world will watch admiringly as the tiny army of a small Baltic republic wages the kind of war that inspires legends against the invading military might of the Soviet Union.”  

The Winter War between Finland and Russia flies under the radar of most general readers mainly because Finland, alone up in a cold, dark corner of Europe, got almost no help, so that its five million people had to face the mighty Red Army on its own.

It was a different kind of war, with undermanned Finnish soldiers on skis using unorthodox guerrilla tactics on in unimaginably difficult Arctic fighting conditions.

Trotter overlays a  thorough understanding of the conflict on the hard realities of the far north for a description that takes the reader…

By William Trotter,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Frozen Hell as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Masterfully recreates all the heroism, tragedy and drama of a campaign whose lessons deserve far more attention." —General James R. Galvin, former Supreme Allied Commander, Europe

In 1939, tiny Finland waged war-the kind of war that spawns legends-against the mighty Soviet Union, and yet their epic struggle has been largely ignored. Guerrillas on skis, heroic single-handed attacks on tanks, unfathomable endurance, and the charismatic leadership of one of this century's true military geniuses-these are the elements of both the Finnish victory and a gripping tale of war.


Book cover of The Treeline: The Last Forest and the Future of Life on Earth

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?

I admire Ben Rawlence for his immersion in his subject. In previous books he reported from a refugee camp on the Kenya/Somalia border and from strife-ridden eastern Congo.

Here, he roams right across the high north, assessing the gamut of issues confronting a fast-changing north. Not all the change is dire: he quotes Kenneth Høegh, an agronomist, on the novelty of trees.

“Growing up in Greenland, trees were kind of exotic, strange,” as he describes for us Høegh’s project of foresting his island. 

With chapters on the changing forest, animals wild and domestic, the changing climate, and issues and opportunities it presents, The Treeline shows us that planetary change presses forward every bit as much in the high north as down here where most of us live.

By Ben Rawlence,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A ground-breaking and beautifully written investigation into the Arctic Treeline with an urgent environmental message.

'Evocative, wise and unflinching' Jay Griffiths, author of Wild

The Arctic treeline is the frontline of climate change, where the trees have been creeping towards the pole for fifty years already.

Scientists are only just beginning to understand the astonishing significance of these northern forests for all life on Earth. At the treeline, Rawlence witnesses the accelerating impact of climate change and the devastating legacies of colonialism and capitalism. But he also finds reasons for hope. Humans are creatures of the forest; we have always…


Book cover of Among the Russians

Steven Faulkner Author Of Bitterroot: Echoes of Beauty & Loss

From my list on travel that enrich landscape with history.

Why am I passionate about this?

After reading travel books that voyaged beyond mere tourism into the life of the land, its people, and its histories, I found myself longing to launch my own journeys. I took a thousand-mile canoe trip with my son following the 1673 route of the French explorers Marquette and Joliet; I crossed the Rockies with two sons by foot, mountain bike, and canoe following Lewis and Clark and their Nez Perce guides; I took to sea kayak and pontoon boat with a son and daughter, 400 miles along the Gulf Coast in pursuit of the 1528 Spanish Narvaez Expedition. Writing of these journeys gave me the chance to live twice.

Steven's book list on travel that enrich landscape with history

Steven Faulkner Why did Steven love this book?

Colin Thubron showed me real travel writing: a journey in words that leads the reader through detailed landscapes, personal encounters with local people, and a depth of understanding that can only come through the human history of these landscapes.

I took this trip with Thubron when Russia was still the Soviet Union. Thubron met dissidents living in Moscow, drank vodka with them late into the night, traveled north to the remnants of Soviet concentration camps, took the rails through that vast continent across the steppes, over the mountains, around huge lakes, all the way to the Pacific coast. The book is beautifully written and introduced me to a travel writer I have read many times since.

By Colin Thubron,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Among the Russians as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Thubron learnt Russian and entered the then Soviet Union in an old Morris Marina in which he camped and drove for almost 10,000 miles between the Baltic and Caucasus. This book provides a revealing picture of the many races who inhabit the country and the human side behind state socialism.


Book cover of Midnight in Siberia: A Train Journey into the Heart of Russia

David H. Mould Author Of Postcards from Stanland: Journeys in Central Asia

From my list on places people think are too dodgy to visit.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an accidental travel writer. For 25 years, I’ve made frequent work trips to the developing world for workshops and research projects, traveling widely in Central, South, and Southeast Asia and Southern Africa. I record what I see and learn, and my conversations with people and write about them in emails, blogs, and later books. Stanland was the first, followed by Monsoon Postcards: Indian Ocean Journeys and Postcards from the Borderlands. I don’t need to be at a scenic overlook or a historic site to find interest. If you’re new to a place, the every day—things so familiar to those who live there that they don’t think about them—are worth recording.

David's book list on places people think are too dodgy to visit

David H. Mould Why did David love this book?

OK, I’ll confess. I have this Dr. Zhivago fantasy (that may also involve Julie Christie). I travelled more than 200 miles on the Trans-Siberian Railway while on a fellowship in Russia’s southern Urals. It was not as romantic a journey as I had expected—lots of forest and drunks in the restaurant car—but I wish I’d traveled further. David Greene, NPR’s former Moscow bureau chief, has traveled the whole line, more than 5,000 miles from Moscow to Vladivostok. It’s not the view from the train window of the landscape of Siberia—spectacular though it sometimes is—that drives the story along. It’s the people Greene meets, the stories of their lives and hardships, and how passengers traveling together day and night for almost a week cope with the journey and each other. 

By David Greene,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Far away from the trendy cafes, designer boutiques, and political protests and crackdowns in Moscow, the real Russia exists.

Midnight in Siberia chronicles David Greene's journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway, a 6,000-mile cross-country trip from Moscow to the Pacific port of Vladivostok. In quadruple-bunked cabins and stopover towns sprinkled across the country's snowy landscape, Greene speaks with ordinary Russians about how their lives have changed in the post-Soviet years.

These travels offer a glimpse of the new Russia-a nation that boasts open elections and newfound prosperity but continues to endure oppression, corruption, a dwindling population, and stark inequality.

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5 book lists we think you will like!

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