100 books like The Old Ways

By Robert Macfarlane,

Here are 100 books that The Old Ways fans have personally recommended if you like The Old Ways. 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 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 The Living Mountain

Sara B. Franklin Author Of The Editor: How Publishing Legend Judith Jones Shaped Culture in America

From my list on the stories we tell about women.

Why am I passionate about this?

Judith Jones became an important mentor and mother figure to me in my twenties, in the wake of my parents’ deaths. Her personal wisdom and guidance, which I received both in knowing her personally and from the incredible archive she left behind, have been invaluable to me during a particularly tumultuous and transformative decade in my own life. I wrote The Editor as I was coming into my full adulthood, and the books on this list helped shape my thinking along the way at times when I felt stagnant or stuck or needed to rethink both how to write Judith’s life and why her story is so vital to tell.

Sara's book list on the stories we tell about women

Sara B. Franklin Why did Sara love this book?

I’ve never read anything like The Living Mountain. A book that is, at once, an autobiography of a remarkable yet under-celebrated woman writer and an exploration of the ecstasies of experiencing the world through the body and its senses.

In gorgeously vivid prose, Shepherd invites us to pursue depth over breadth and to rely upon our felt experience as a way of knowing in the world. This book challenges dominant “hero’s journey” narratives in both content and form and suggests that all we yearn to experience and know can be found right where we find ourselves, wherever that may be. 

By Nan Shepherd,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'The finest book ever written on nature and landscape in Britain' Guardian

Introduction by Robert Macfarlane. Afterword by Jeanette Winterson

In this masterpiece of nature writing, Nan Shepherd describes her journeys into the Cairngorm mountains of Scotland. There she encounters a world that can be breathtakingly beautiful at times and shockingly harsh at others. Her intense, poetic prose explores and records the rocks, rivers, creatures and hidden aspects of this remarkable landscape.

Shepherd spent a lifetime in search of the 'essential nature' of the Cairngorms; her quest led her to write this classic meditation on the magnificence of mountains, and…


Book cover of Wanderlust: A History of Walking

Jim Miller Author Of Drift

From my list on urban wandering and subterranean history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I teach literature, Labor Studies, and writing at San Diego City College and have written three San Diego-based novels: Drift, Flash, and Last Days in Ocean Beach, along with Under the Perfect Sun: The San Diego Tourists Never See, a radical history of San Diego that I co-wrote with Mike Davis and Kelly Mayhew. Both as a writer and as a daily wanderer on the streets of San Diego, I have a passion for the psychogeography of the city space and a deep curiosity for and love of the people I encounter there.

Jim's book list on urban wandering and subterranean history

Jim Miller Why did Jim love this book?

This book really got to me because it offers a rich and quixotic history of walking that encompasses the Romantics, the French flaneurs, and a host of other wanderers. In her chapter on San Francisco, Solnit re-maps the space of her home city in a way that outlines her own rediscovery and gave me new eyes to see a place that I love.

By Rebecca Solnit,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A passionate, thought provoking exploration of walking as a political and cultural activity, from the author of the memoir Recollections of My Nonexistence

Drawing together many histories--of anatomical evolution and city design, of treadmills and labyrinths, of walking clubs and sexual mores--Rebecca Solnit creates a fascinating portrait of the range of possibilities presented by walking. Arguing that the history of walking includes walking for pleasure as well as for political, aesthetic, and social meaning, Solnit focuses on the walkers whose everyday and extreme acts have shaped our culture, from philosophers to poets to mountaineers. She profiles some of the most…


Book cover of A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail

Jim Landwehr Author Of Dirty Shirt: A Boundary Waters Memoir

From my list on the trials and joys of outdoor adventure.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been a lover of all things outdoors since I was a boy. After my father was killed at a young age, my brothers and I took his love for outdoor adventure and made it our own. Fully aware of all that can go wrong, my brothers and I went into our ventures with a keen sense of humor. Camping, fishing, and kayaking all come with their own challenges and requisite hilarious moments. It is these moments of adversity, and personal risk, that are sometimes lightened by a good dose of laughter and levity.

Jim's book list on the trials and joys of outdoor adventure

Jim Landwehr Why did Jim love this book?

This book minces no words about the difficulties of hiking the Appalachian Trail. Bryson does a brilliant job laying out the reality that despite extensive planning and, in the case of his hiking partner, Steven Katz, differing motives, things can go wrong.

Bryson does an amazing job keeping the story light with side-splitting humor. The blend of humor and adventure play roles as some of the primary inspirations behind my own writing.

By Bill Bryson,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked A Walk in the Woods as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the author of "Notes from a Small Island" and "The Lost Continent" comes this humorous report on his walk along the Appalachian Trail. The Trail covers 14 states and over 2000 miles, and stretches along the east coast of America from Maine in the north to Georgia in the south. It is famous for being the longest continuous footpath in the world. It snakes through some of the wildest and most specactular landscapes in America, as well as through some of its most poverty-stricken and primitive backwoods areas.


Book cover of The Innocents Abroad: Or the New Pilgrim's Progress

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?

My recent literary quest across the Levant ends around 6000 years ago. A few years later, at the end of the 19th century, Twain made his journey in the same region. Surprisingly, not much has changed.

His book is a witty, arrogant, and very funny look at a land full of history…and annoying flying insects. 

By Mark Twain,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Innocents Abroad as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Who could read the programme for the excursion without longing to make one of the party?'

So Mark Twain acclaims his voyage from New York City to Europe and the Holy Land in June 1867. His adventures produced The Innocents Abroad, a book so funny and provocative it made him an international star for the rest of his life. He was making his first responses to the Old World - to Paris, Milan, Florence, Venice, Pompeii, Constantinople, Sebastopol, Balaklava, Damascus, Jerusalem, Nazareth, and Bethlehem. For the first time he was seeing the great paintings and sculptures of the 'Old Masters'.…


Book cover of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Andrea Lani Author Of Uphill Both Ways: Hiking toward Happiness on the Colorado Trail

From my list on women in the wild.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Colorado gal living in Maine, where I make the most of the long winters and gloomy springs by spending as much time as I can outside in our 20 acres of woods and fields. I hiked the Colorado Trail twice, in 1996 with my husband and in 2016 with my husband and three kids. My book tells the story of this second hike, as well as the natural and environmental history of Colorado. I’m a Maine Master Naturalist, and I’m passionate about connecting people to the natural world through nature journaling and nature writing workshops.

Andrea's book list on women in the wild

Andrea Lani Why did Andrea love this book?

Until I discovered this book in my early twenties, most of my reading about the natural world had come from male writers who encountered that world in a spirit of discovery and domination.

Dillard’s relationship with the creek she visited seemingly daily was a different approach entirely—she came as an acolyte, ready to watch, listen, and learn what the wild things of that stream had to teach her. Her writing is introspective and contemplative, and it swings wildly between esoteric readings and embodied experiences on the ground, creating a breathless, mind-body reading experience.

By Annie Dillard,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Pilgrim at Tinker Creek as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek has continued to change people's lives for over thirty years. A passionate and poetic reflection on the mystery of creation with its beauty on the one hand and cruelty on the other, it has become a modern American literary classic in the tradition of Thoreau. Living in solitude in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Roanoke, Virginia, and observing the changing seasons, the flora and fauna, the author reflects on the nature of creation and of the God who set it in motion. Whether the images are cruel or lovely, the language is memorably beautiful and poetic,…


Book cover of The Crystal Cave

Tina Zee Author Of Fires of Brigantia

From my list on romantic Celtic Britain: Druids, Romans and female warriors.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love British history. I am fascinated by ancient roots; legends and myths arising from around the Roman invasion. Stories of Boudicca, Casswallen, Celtic legends, and Arthurian tales hold me in a world of imaginings and anticipation. These exciting stories have been told and retold, but Cartimandua, Warrior Queen of Brigantia is new to me. She, a Yorkshire lass like me – led the largest tribe in Britain. I have become absorbed into the iron-age lives and loves of her Brigantia. The interwoven links between known facts and fantasy intrigue me. My favourite books here encouraged my journey of discovery; the old birthing the new. The legends from Britain grow.

Tina's book list on romantic Celtic Britain: Druids, Romans and female warriors

Tina Zee Why did Tina love this book?

Through the pages of this book, unfolds a tangible reality of the birth and boyhood of Merlin the magician, leading up to his central position in the legend of Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

As I read, I saw how Stewart wove a story using some accepted historical facts and myths, to create something new and solid. I saw the way Stewart used mystical moments and magical spells to sit above common logic.

Her ability to write in this imaginative way makes her characters more believable. And I do believe it. I have feelings of satisfaction at the end of the book, which inspired me to write my own historical story.

By Mary Stewart,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked The Crystal Cave as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The spellbinding story of Merlin's rise to power.

Vivid, enthralling, absolutely first-class - Daily Mail

So begins the story of Merlin, born the illegitimate son of a Welsh princess in fifth century Britain, a world ravaged by war. Small and neglected, with his mother unwilling to reveal his father's identity, Merlin must disguise his intelligence - and hide his occasional ability to know things before they happen - in order to keep himself safe.

While exploring the countryside near his home, Merlin stumbles across a cave filled with books and papers and hiding a room lined with crystals. It is…


Book cover of The Gate to Women's Country

Marian Thorpe Author Of Empire's Daughter

From my list on settings in a world that’s not quite ours.

Why am I passionate about this?

My books blend two of my lifelong passions—post-Roman British history, and landscape archaeology. I fell in love with the first somewhere in my late teens, through the not-unusual route of Arthurian legend, and with the latter the first time I saw the British tv series Time Team. Over the last nearly-fifty years, I’ve continued to read and study, both formally and informally, in both areas. My books are an extension and expression of both those interests, but I am too much of a ‘what if?’ person to limit myself to true historical fiction. You’ll also find a few hints of two of my other interests, birdwatching and walking, dropped into the books here and there.

Marian's book list on settings in a world that’s not quite ours

Marian Thorpe Why did Marian love this book?

While generally considered science fiction, this one of Tepper’s books is centred on a society where men and women live separately – and why, and the effects of such a divided society on the lives of men and women. Although the divided society in my book owes more to Sparta than Tepper’s book, she gave me the idea to examine the consequences of such a society in my pseudo-post-Roman world.

By Sheri S. Tepper,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Gate to Women's Country as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE GATE TO WOMEN'S COUNTRY tells of a society that exists three hundred years after our own has nearly destroyed itself. Now, male warriors are separated from women at an early age and live in garrisons plotting futilely for the battles which must never be fought again. Inside the women's towns, education, arts and science flourish. But for some like Stavia, there is more to see. Her sojourn with the man she is forbidden to love brings into sharp focus the contradictions that define their lives.

And when tragedy strikes, Stavia is faced with a decision she never thought she…


Book cover of Wildwood

Edward Picton-Turbervill Author Of Talking Through Trees

From my list on to rewild the mind.

Why am I passionate about this?

I did a master's in Environmental Policy, and at the end of that year, I thought, "this is all very well, but there’s no point designing these policies if no one wants them." My response to the environmental crisis is to try to open people’s eyes to the beauty and wonder of Nature. If you pay close attention, you start to develop an expansive sense of the ordinary: Creation is stranger, more mysterious, and more wonderful than we can imagine. This in turn helps us to love the world more deeply, and we tend to look after things that we love. 

Edward's book list on to rewild the mind

Edward Picton-Turbervill Why did Edward love this book?

This was the book that made me look again at trees, seeing them for the incredible organisms that they are. Deakin goes on an amazing adventure from Suffolk to Kazakhstan, Australia, and beyond, trying to get to the heart of why wood and trees have such profound meaning for us. If you like Wildwood, you could also try Waterlog, in which he wild-swims his way through the British Isles. He’s the perfect companion for the armchair adventurer, and a very genial writer.

By Roger Deakin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Here, published for the first time in the United States, is the last book by Roger Deakin, famed British nature writer and icon of the environmentalist movement. In Deakin's glorious meditation on wood, the "fifth element" -- as it exists in nature, in our culture, and in our souls -- the reader accompanies Deakin through the woods of Britain, Europe, Kazakhstan, and Australia in search of what lies behind man's profound and enduring connection with trees.

Deakin lives in forest shacks, goes "coppicing" in Suffolk, swims beneath the walnut trees of the Haut-Languedoc, and hunts bushplums with Aboriginal women in…


Book cover of This Sunrise of Wonder: Letters to My Grandchildren

Edward Picton-Turbervill Author Of Talking Through Trees

From my list on to rewild the mind.

Why am I passionate about this?

I did a master's in Environmental Policy, and at the end of that year, I thought, "this is all very well, but there’s no point designing these policies if no one wants them." My response to the environmental crisis is to try to open people’s eyes to the beauty and wonder of Nature. If you pay close attention, you start to develop an expansive sense of the ordinary: Creation is stranger, more mysterious, and more wonderful than we can imagine. This in turn helps us to love the world more deeply, and we tend to look after things that we love. 

Edward's book list on to rewild the mind

Edward Picton-Turbervill Why did Edward love this book?

This book was given to me by an Anglican priest in Valparaiso, and it’s probably been the single biggest influence on my thought of anything I have ever read. It is a series of letters from Mayne to his grandchildren, explaining his view of the world. It’s a bit quieter than Annie Dillard’s exuberant sense of enchantment, but no less filled with wonder. It’s packed full of quotations from other authors, gleaned from a lifetime’s reading. The title is a quote from GK Chesterton, "At the back of our brains, there is a forgotten blaze or burst of astonishment at our own existence. The object of the artistic and spiritual life is to dig for this sunrise of wonder." 

By Michael Mayne,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Parson's Porch Books is excited to announce the publication of the new American edition of Michael Mayne's This Sunrise of Wonder. This Anglican classic will captivate readers with its warm humanity and endearing and pulsating spirituality. Michael Mayne, one of the greatest Anglican priest-writers, was Head of Religious Programmes, BBC Radio; Vicar of Great St. Mary's (the University Church), Cambridge; and Dean of Westminster Abbey. His last book, The Enduring Melody, was published a few days before his death in October 2006. He was also the author of A Year Lost and Found, Learning to Dance, and Pray, Love, Remember.


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