45 books like The Emerald Mile

By Kevin Fedarko,

Here are 45 books that The Emerald Mile fans have personally recommended if you like The Emerald Mile. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Desert Solitaire

Maya Silver Author Of Moon Zion & Bryce: With Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Grand Staircase-Escalante & Moab

From my list on featuring the American Southwest desert.

Who am I?

Even though I’m from humid DC, I’ve been drawn to the desert since I first set foot there as a kid on a family road trip. Now, I’m lucky enough to live in Utah, home to some of the world’s most legendary desert landscapes. One reason I love the desert is the otherworldly scenery: uncanny arches, bizarre hoodoos, and sand dunes you could disappear into. Before your eyes, layers of geologic time unfold in epochs. The desert is a great place for contemplating the past and future—and for great adventures, with endless sandstone walls to climb, slick rock to bike, and sagebrush-lined trails to hike.

Maya's book list on featuring the American Southwest desert

Maya Silver Why did Maya love this book?

The late Edward Abbey might be a controversial figure, but you can’t write about desert literature without mentioning this iconic book.

In this book, Abbey captures his experience as a winter caretaker of Arches National Park (before it was a national park and before the road in was paved). In 18 chapters that read like short stories, he chronicles long days on horseback, jaw-dropping tales of flash floods, journeys up remote canyons, and more adventures that do an uncanny job of conveying the spirit of the desert and what it was like to explore it mid-century.

Abbey’s writing is blunt, colorful, and engaging, and this book is a romp of a read. 

By Edward Abbey,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked Desert Solitaire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'My favourite book about the wilderness' Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild

In this shimmering masterpiece of American nature writing, Edward Abbey ventures alone into the canyonlands of Moab, Utah, to work as a seasonal ranger for the United States National Park Service.

Living out of a trailer, Abbey captures in rapt, poetic prose the landscape of the desert; a world of terracotta earth, empty skies, arching rock formations, cliffrose, juniper, pinyon pine and sand sage. His summers become spirit quests, taking him in search of wild horses and Ancient Puebloan petroglyphs, up mountains and across tribal lands, and down the…


Book cover of The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey

Benjamin Hruska Author Of Valor and Courage: The Story of the USS Block Island Escort Carriers in World War II

From my list on the human superpower of teamwork overcoming challenges.

Who am I?

I have always been drawn to narratives where a group of individuals needs to collectively overcome a seemingly insurmountable challenge. And, as someone who loves reasonable outdoor challenges such as whitewater rafting trips, I love stories that combine the two. I have been lucky enough to partake in two private float trips of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. With no internet, or electricity for 16 days at a time, a carefully crafted book list is key for any river descend. All these books at their core are narratives of individuals digging in deep, and cultivating that collective human superpower known as teamwork, to overcome challenges many thought could not be overcome.

Benjamin's book list on the human superpower of teamwork overcoming challenges

Benjamin Hruska Why did Benjamin love this book?

Even though shot at while participating in the Spanish-American War, and even shot in the chest by a would-be assassin while running for President decades later, the most dangerous adventure of Theodore Roosevelt took place in the jungles of Brazil after he was President.

Millard in this fantastic work seamlessly marries two complex topics. First being the personality of our 26th President whose varied accomplishments included writing over 30 books and being the first American to win the Nobel Peace Prize. The second is the ecosystems of the Amazon, which damn near killed Roosevelt on his descent down an uncharted tributary of the river. 

By Candice Millard,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The River of Doubt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1912, shortly after losing his bid to spend a third term as American President to Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt with his son Kermit, a Brazilian guide and a band of camaradas set off deep into the Amazon jungle and a very uncertain fate. Although Roosevelt did eventually return from THE RIVER OF DOUBT, he and his companions faced treacherous cataracts as well as the dangerous indigenous population of the Amazon. He became severely ill on the journey, nearly dying in the jungle from a blood infection and malaria. A mere five years later Roosevelt did die of related issues.…


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.

Who am I?

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 Underland: A Deep Time Journey

Arefa Tehsin Author Of Iora and the Quest of Five

From my list on nature and forests that leave you bewitched.

Who am I?

I come from a family of some of the earliest big-game hunters turned conservationists of India and grew up treading jungles with my naturalist father. As a child, I was often found trying to catch a snake or spin a yarn or reading from the collection of wildlife and natural history books at home. Jungles were as much a part of growing up as was going to school, and I learnt precious life lessons from them. To pursue the cause of conservation, I’ve written several fiction and non-fiction books, as well as articles in national dailies/magazines on wildlife and nature, and I was appointed the Honorary Wildlife Warden of Udaipur, India.

Arefa's book list on nature and forests that leave you bewitched

Arefa Tehsin Why did Arefa love this book?

When we talk about nature, we think of trees, lakes, rivers, oceans, mountains. But there is a parallel world that exists right beneath our feet! 

MacFarlane’s narration flows in a dreamlike prose and moves in gentle and deep shifts. The book that describes itself as “A book about burial and unburial and deep time” is one of the most mesmerising books on natural history that I have read. The prose is as transcendental as the subject matter. Formidably and masterfully told.

By Robert Macfarlane,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Underland, Robert Macfarlane delivers an epic exploration of the Earth's underworlds as they exist in myth, literature, memory, and the land itself. Traveling through the dizzying expanse of geologic time-from prehistoric art in Norwegian sea caves, to the blue depths of the Greenland ice cap, to a deep-sunk "hiding place" where nuclear waste will be stored for 100,000 years to come-Underland takes us on an extraordinary journey into our relationship with darkness, burial, and what lies beneath the surface of both place and mind.

Global in its geography and written with great lyricism, Underland speaks powerfully to our present…


Book cover of Touching the Void: The True Story of One Man's Miraculous Survival

Elizabeth Flann Author Of Beware of Dogs

From my list on humans fighting for survival in dangerous situations.

Who am I?

Elizabeth Flann is a history and literature major who worked for over twenty years in the publishing industry in England and Australia before moving into teaching literature, scriptwriting and editing to postgraduate students at Deakin University, Melbourne. She is a co-author of The Australian Editing Handbook and was awarded a PhD in 2001 for her thesis entitled Celluloid Dreaming: Cultural Myths and Landscape in Australian Film. Now retired, she is able to give full rein to her true love—writing fiction. Her first novel, Beware of Dogs, was awarded the Harper Collins Banjo Prize for a Fiction Manuscript. She now lives in a peaceful rural setting in Victoria, Australia, close to extended family and nature.

Elizabeth's book list on humans fighting for survival in dangerous situations

Elizabeth Flann Why did Elizabeth love this book?

After years of vicarious adventure tales like The Coral Island and Treasure Island, as an adult I discovered a new source: true-life adventures. From the voyage of the raft Kon-Tiki to the epic trek by Robyn Davidson across Australia’s cruelest desert, my fascination with the human capacity for survival found a new revival. One of the most riveting books I’ve ever read in this genre is Touching the Void which, although non-fiction, is written in an extraordinarily poetic form by the two survivors, each of whom suffered terrible physical privations and even more terrible moral dilemmas while climbing in the snow-covered Peruvian mountains. That either of them survived is a miracle. That both of them did is a tribute to what humans can endure in order to survive.

By Joe Simpson,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Touching the Void as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Extensive reading is essential for improving fluency
and there is a real need in the ELT classroom for motivating, contemporary
graded material that will instantly appeal to students

Based on the internationally acclaimed book by Joe Simpson, Touching
the Void is the compelling true story of a mountaineering
expedition which goes dreadfully wrong.



LEVEL 3 - LEVEL 4

BOOK ONLY

Perfect also for native English speaking children who are struggling
with their reading

Full colour photos and film stills bring story
to life and aid comprehension

Fact File section explores the making of the film, climbing Everest
and other related…


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.

Who am I?

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…


Book cover of Assembling California

Toni Dwiggins Author Of Quicksilver

From my list on badass geology books.

Who am I?

I’m a mystery-writing geology buff who came across a textbook on forensic geology, and was hooked. Here was the perfect fit for my stories--using earth evidence to solve crimes. My characters go from the lab to the field, reading the rock to track the evidence to its source. Along the way, they’ve developed a passion for protecting the environment. I’ve hiked the same trails, skied the same mountains, run the same river, and kayaked the same sea as my characters--although I don’t get into the trouble that they do. My books have hit a number of bestseller lists, including USA Today.

Toni's book list on badass geology books

Toni Dwiggins Why did Toni love this book?

This book is an enthralling field trip through my home state. McPhee--in company with a larger-than-life California geologist--takes apart and puts together the wildly varying regions of the state. He roams the coast, the mountains, the valleys, the rivers, the cities, and even puts the reader into the cataclysm of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. What more could a reader want? Well, staggeringly good writing and lively wit. Done.

“It is said that if a cow lies down in California, a seismologist will know it.” John McPhee.

By John McPhee,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

At various times in a span of fifteen years, John McPhee made geological field surveys in the company of Eldridge Moores, a tectonicist at the University of California at Davis. The result of these trips is Assembling California, a cross-section in human and geologic time, from Donner Pass in the Sierra Nevada through the golden foothills of the Mother Lode and across the Great Central Valley to the wine country of the Coast Ranges, the rock of San Francisco, and the San Andreas family of faults. The two disparate time scales occasionally intersect―in the gold disruptions of the nineteenth century…


Book cover of The Fifth Season

Diana Fedorak Author Of Children of Alpheios

From my list on sci-fi and fantasy featuring incredible mothers.

Who am I?

I’m a mother of two children and was raised in a noisy family of four. It was my kids who reawakened my instinct to write again and follow through on my projects. Motherhood is such a fundamental part of my life and for most women I know. It’s mundane yet transformative in the sense it brings out your inner lioness in a way you don’t anticipate. When I think about some of my favorite literary characters, they would be unrecognizable if they weren’t mothers. With that in mind, I hope readers find a lovely story for their moms on Mother’s Day.

Diana's book list on sci-fi and fantasy featuring incredible mothers

Diana Fedorak Why did Diana love this book?

This Hugo Award-winning novel has one of the most original stories I’ve read that revolves around a remarkable mother, Essun.

While Essun pretends to be ordinary, she is an orogene, a race of humans with the ability to significantly alter her environment. As a result, the orogenes are wretched exiles, feared by society and trapped in a governing system that seeks to control them.

I was immediately taken with Essun’s emotional journey as the story opens with the loss of her child. She wants to live a quiet life with her family but is pursued by officials who cannot allow her to go free.

The story really tapped into the most primal aspects of motherhood. Ultimately, it’s motherhood that strengthens Essun’s power as she unleashes it with devastating effectiveness. 

By N. K. Jemisin,

Why should I read it?

24 authors picked The Fifth Season as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At the end of the world, a woman must hide her secret power and find her kidnapped daughter in this "intricate and extraordinary" Hugo Award winning novel of power, oppression, and revolution. (The New York Times)

This is the way the world ends. . .for the last time.

It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world's sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun. It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter. It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester.

This is the Stillness, a land…


Book cover of Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water

Laurie Marr Wasmund Author Of My Heart Lies Here

From my list on why the American West always will be the "Wild West”.

Who am I?

Raised in the American West, I have watched the explosive growth in Colorado with dismay. In my lifetime, metro Denver has grown from a population of about 500,000 people to more than 5.5 million. The Colorado of large ranches and wide, open spaces is disappearing. I have named my publishing company “lost ranch books,” in honor of the ranch where I grew up, which was sold and developed with cookie-cutter houses. I’ve now set out to recapture historic Colorado by writing about it. My award-winning books center on Colorado’s and the American West’s history, for not only is it fascinating and, often, troubling, but it still resonates today.

Laurie's book list on why the American West always will be the "Wild West”

Laurie Marr Wasmund Why did Laurie love this book?

Water, water everywhere—but not in the American West. I first read Reisner’s book soon after its publication in 1986, when it presented a haunting, frightening future for the western United States that is being realized today. The book reveals the inadequacy of the management of water in the western states that began as soon as there was settlement, and it takes an especially hard look at the treaties surrounding the Colorado River, which has all but disappeared in the past few years, causing panic at the Hoover Dam and in Las Vegas, Arizona, and Mexico. Reisner amply demonstrates why major cities should not be built in semi-arid and arid climes—and still, the western states’ populations continue to explode. 

By Marc Reisner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"The definitive work on the West's water crisis." --Newsweek

The story of the American West is the story of a relentless quest for a precious resource: water. It is a tale of rivers diverted and dammed, of political corruption and intrigue, of billion-dollar battles over water rights, of ecological and economic disaster. In his landmark book, Cadillac Desert, Marc Reisner writes of the earliest settlers, lured by the promise of paradise, and of the ruthless tactics employed by Los Angeles politicians and business interests to ensure the city's growth. He documents the bitter rivalry between two government giants, the Bureau…


Book cover of Coming Into the Country

Mike Gerrard Author Of Snakes Alive and Other Travel Writing

From my list on US travel writing chosen by a travel writer.

Who am I?

I always wanted to be a writer but never thought I’d become a travel writer. And like many British teenagers, I also had a passion for the USA – its movies, its music, its writers – but never imagined I would end up living in Arizona. I’ve now traveled in the US widely and understand why its landscapes, its people, and its culture have produced so much good travel writing. It’s a country that’s inspiring and surprising in equal measure, ever-changing, vast, and even though I didn’t grow up there it certainly made me who I am. 

Mike's book list on US travel writing chosen by a travel writer

Mike Gerrard Why did Mike love this book?

Before I went to Alaska for the first time, I did some background reading and thankfully discovered this book and the writing of John McPhee. He and Alaska were made for each other. He’s the kind of writer who is interested in everything, and everyone, and conveys his curiosity and his discoveries with enthusiasm. Alaska is unique, as is McPhee’s style of writing, jumping from topic to topic as the mood – and his journey – takes him, and hauling the reader along with him. He’s the kind of traveling companion who’s forever saying: let’s see what’s down there, I wonder how that works, let’s go talk to that guy.

By John McPhee,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Coming Into the Country as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Coming into the Country is an unforgettable account of Alaska and Alaskans. It is a rich tapestry of vivid characters, observed landscapes, and descriptive narrative, in three principal segments that deal, respectively, with a total wilderness, with urban Alaska, and with life in the remoteness of the bush.

Readers of McPhee's earlier books will not be unprepared for his surprising shifts of scene and ordering of events, brilliantly combined into an organic whole. In the course of this volume we are made acquainted with the lore and techniques of placer mining, the habits and legends of the barren-ground grizzly, the…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in floods, the Grand Canyon, and Arizona?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about floods, the Grand Canyon, and Arizona.

Floods Explore 12 books about floods
The Grand Canyon Explore 14 books about the Grand Canyon
Arizona Explore 59 books about Arizona