100 books like The Sun Is a Compass

By Caroline Van Hemert,

Here are 100 books that The Sun Is a Compass fans have personally recommended if you like The Sun Is a Compass. 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 Moby-Dick

Kim Brown Seely Author Of Uncharted: A Couple's Epic Empty-Nest Adventure Sailing from One Life to Another

From my list on sailors, sea adventurers, and romantics at heart.

Who am I?

Kim Brown Seely was born and raised in Southern California and graduated from Stanford University. A Lowell Thomas Journalist of the Year, she has worked in publishing on both coasts, including as senior editor at Travel + Leisure magazine, contributing editor at National Geographic Adventure, and travel editor at Microsoft and Amazon. Her memoir Uncharted: A Couple’s Epic Empty-Nest Adventure Sailing from One Life to Another was named one of the best books about retirement by the Wall Street Journal and is also a Nautilus Award Winner. She has traveled to more than thirty countries for Virtuoso magazine, where she's a contributing writer and has won more than a dozen writing awards for her work.  

Kim's book list on sailors, sea adventurers, and romantics at heart

Kim Brown Seely Why did Kim love this book?

Incredibly, I had never read Moby-Dick until spending weeks at sea every summer, so Melville’s Great American Novel, which D.H. Lawrence called “one of the strangest and most wonderful books in the world” found me on the boat. 

My book has been dubbed “the Moby-Dick of empty-nest tales” since my husband and I sail off in search of a rare white bear, inspired by Melville’s great white whale. I had no idea how funny and captivating Moby-Dick was – not to mention inspiring for armchair seafarers – until I settled in with its pages that first summer. It’s a brilliant novel. 

By Herman Melville,

Why should I read it?

18 authors picked Moby-Dick as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Melville's tale of the whaling industry, and one captain's obsession with revenge against the Great White Whale that took his leg. Classics Illustrated tells this wonderful tale in colourful comic strip form, offering an excellent introduction for younger readers. This edition also includes a biography of Herman Melville and study questions, which can be used both in the classroom or at home to further engage the reader in the work at hand.


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 Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Trish MacEnulty Author Of The Hummingbird Kiss: My Life as an Addict in the 1970s

From my list on memoirs about or by addicts, drunks, and f#@k ups.

Who am I?

I am a recovered (not “recovering”) addict and writer. These days I write historical fiction because I enjoy an escape from present-day reality, and research is fun. But I started writing as a way to make sense of my chaotic world and in hopes of healing myself. Something was broken inside me, and I didn’t know how to fix it. So I wrote about the shadowy realms of my life and kept on writing until somehow I was able to let go of the past and create a different life, one which would not land me upside down in a ditch with my neck broken and my tires spinning. 

Trish's book list on memoirs about or by addicts, drunks, and f#@k ups

Trish MacEnulty Why did Trish love this book?

I read this book sitting on the balcony of a condo at the beach. I got a sunburn because I couldn’t put it down.

Cheryl’s trek along the PCT is weirdly harrowing and heart-warming as she meets creeps, clowns, and kindred folk. But what makes the book so compelling for me is how Cheryl delves into her need for this test of her resolve, which is to figure out what went wrong with her life after her mother’s death and how to fix it.

I was with her every step of the way and felt as if I, too, had conquered the PCT and overcome my misbegotten past. The honesty of her self-examination nailed this book to my heart. 

By Cheryl Strayed,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe—and built her back up again.

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the…


Book cover of Passage to Juneau: A Sea and Its Meanings

Kim Brown Seely Author Of Uncharted: A Couple's Epic Empty-Nest Adventure Sailing from One Life to Another

From my list on sailors, sea adventurers, and romantics at heart.

Who am I?

Kim Brown Seely was born and raised in Southern California and graduated from Stanford University. A Lowell Thomas Journalist of the Year, she has worked in publishing on both coasts, including as senior editor at Travel + Leisure magazine, contributing editor at National Geographic Adventure, and travel editor at Microsoft and Amazon. Her memoir Uncharted: A Couple’s Epic Empty-Nest Adventure Sailing from One Life to Another was named one of the best books about retirement by the Wall Street Journal and is also a Nautilus Award Winner. She has traveled to more than thirty countries for Virtuoso magazine, where she's a contributing writer and has won more than a dozen writing awards for her work.  

Kim's book list on sailors, sea adventurers, and romantics at heart

Kim Brown Seely Why did Kim love this book?

I first read Passage to Juneau: A Sea and Its Meanings when I was the travel books editor at Amazon and took it home to review.

British-born Raban’s solo sailing journey from Seattle to Juneau, Alaska, is a riveting take on navigating the Inside Passage (the intricate waterway between Puget Sound and Alaska), weaving together history, science, literature, and intimate descriptions of his life at sea.

While Raban can be a prickly narrator, Passage to Juneau is extraordinary narrative nonfiction and was the initial inspiration for my own book and many seasons now spent boating (and reading) afloat.

By Jonathan Raban,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Passage to Juneau as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With the same rigorous observation (natural and social), invigorating stylishness, and encyclopedic learning that he brought to his National Book Award-winning Bad Land, Jonathan Raban conducts readers along the Inside Passage from Seattle to Juneau. The physical distance is 1,000 miles of difficult-and often treacherous-water, which Raban navigates solo in a 35-foot sailboat.

But Passage to Juneau also traverses a gulf of centuries and cultures: the immeasurable divide between the Northwest's Indians and its first European explorers-- between its embattled fishermen and loggers and its pampered new class. Along the way, Raban offers captivating discourses on art, philosophy, and navigation…


Book cover of The Salt Path: A Memoir

Manni Coe Author Of Brother. Do. You. Love. Me.

From my list on memoirs that capture the struggle of everyday life.

Who am I?

As a gay man born into an evangelical Christian family, my coming out story was wrought with pain, trauma, and separation from family and loved ones. In the same year I lost my best friend in an accident. My world tumbled and I had to crawl back to a place of reckoning. Walking became my path to healing. So when my brother Reuben, who has Down's syndrome sent me a message from the isolation of a care home in the pandemic, I knew he was in trouble. Those five words - ´brother. do. you. love. me.´changed our lives. I thought I might know a way to save him.

Manni's book list on memoirs that capture the struggle of everyday life

Manni Coe Why did Manni love this book?

Raynor and her husband, Moth, are destitute. Moth has been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. They have lost everything; house, work, and income. They have nowhere to go.

So they decide to go for a walk; a very long walk; around the coastline of the West Country following the South Coastal Path. Raynor shares with us, in poetic detail, the minutiae of their struggle, both physical and emotional. As they battle with the force of nature’s elements, something starts to happen.

They begin to identify a way forward and Moth begins to feel stronger. This true story will inspire you. It is a pure testament to the healing power of nature. Raynor’s humility shines through in what is, essentially, a love letter to Moth; the truest love of her life.

By Raynor Winn,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The Salt Path as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Polished, poignant... an inspiring story of true love."-Entertainment Weekly

A BEST BOOK OF 2019, NPR's Book Concierge
SHORTLISTED FOR THE COSTA BOOK AWARD
OVER 400,000 COPIES SOLD WORLDWIDE

The true story of a couple who lost everything and embarked on a transformative journey walking the South West Coast Path in England

Just days after Raynor Winn learns that Moth, her husband of thirty-two years, is terminally ill, their house and farm are taken away, along with their livelihood. With nothing left and little time, they make the brave and impulsive decision to walk the 630 miles of the sea-swept South…


Book cover of Bees: Their Vision, Chemical Senses, and Language

Bernd Heinrich Author Of Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival

From my list on nature and the study of life.

Who am I?

Biology is the study of life, and I cannot think of anything more important. It’s like being interested in what’s happening to the ball when you are playing the ball game. I was very fortunate to have grown up in close contact with nature and it led me down this path. I love discovering intricate mechanisms not by thoughts but with data. Those discoveries almost always turn out to be surprising and more than what had, or could be, imagined and assumed. 

Bernd's book list on nature and the study of life

Bernd Heinrich Why did Bernd love this book?

I received this book from my father as a Christmas present at age 16, in 1956. The author is a Professor of Zoology who made one of the most stunning discoveries of biology of the last century: honeybees communicate direction and distance of a food source they had found to their hive-mates, within the darkness of their hive.

The code involves the movements of their bodies in a "dance," that gives directions with respect to the position of the sun, but at the same time that position shifts with time, the bees without seeing it take into account its movement in the sky, to within about 15 minutes. His experimental proofs deciphering the bees' "dances" are simple and direct, as was his writing of them. The book was and still is an inspiration,  a revelation of nature's beauty that no one had seen before.

By Karl Von Frisch,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Over half a century of brilliant scientific detective work, the Nobel Prize-winning biologist Karl von Frisch learned how the world, looks, smells, and tastes to a bee. More significantly, he discovered their dance language and their ability to use the sun as a compass. Intended to serve as an accessible introduction to one of the most fascinating areas of biology, Bees (first published in 1950 and revised in 1971), reported the startling results of his ingenious and revolutionary experiments with honeybees.

In his revisions, von Frisch updated his discussion about the phylogenetic origin of the language of bees and also…


Book cover of The World of the Tent-Makers: A Natural History of the Eastern Tent Caterpillar

Bernd Heinrich Author Of Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival

From my list on nature and the study of life.

Who am I?

Biology is the study of life, and I cannot think of anything more important. It’s like being interested in what’s happening to the ball when you are playing the ball game. I was very fortunate to have grown up in close contact with nature and it led me down this path. I love discovering intricate mechanisms not by thoughts but with data. Those discoveries almost always turn out to be surprising and more than what had, or could be, imagined and assumed. 

Bernd's book list on nature and the study of life

Bernd Heinrich Why did Bernd love this book?

This book is by an insect physiologist named Vincent G. Dethier. This book reveals the amazing and beautifully intricate behavior and physiology of a common moth (generally considered a pest). Expectations were high as his previous book To Know a Fly went beyond the physiology and elevated the common housefly to a comic character through his sketches. Tent-Makers is about the common "Tent caterpillars" that infest fruit trees and he includes sketches of these animals in their natural environment. This book, though small in size, is concise, succinct, and explores the physiology and behavior of these animals as they face one problem after another throughout their whole life cycle of a year. It is a work of sound scholarship derived from a close look at natural history. It is an in-depth view in non-technical language on a topic not generally penetrable to a general audience but here presented for the…

By Vincent Gaston Dethier,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Study of the life cycle of a colony of eastern tent caterpillars. This book traces this insect's special life history within the total context of nature, discussing both the larger and smaller worlds these creatures encounter during their life span.


Book cover of The Red Gods Call

Bernd Heinrich Author Of Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival

From my list on nature and the study of life.

Who am I?

Biology is the study of life, and I cannot think of anything more important. It’s like being interested in what’s happening to the ball when you are playing the ball game. I was very fortunate to have grown up in close contact with nature and it led me down this path. I love discovering intricate mechanisms not by thoughts but with data. Those discoveries almost always turn out to be surprising and more than what had, or could be, imagined and assumed. 

Bernd's book list on nature and the study of life

Bernd Heinrich Why did Bernd love this book?

This book is less about Biology and more about becoming a biologist. Errington spent his youth outside, hunting, trapping, and fishing in the still largely pristine environment of South Dakota. Although hunting later "became ritualistic" he then continued the rest of his life feeling "called" into the wild and learning about nature there, leading him to go to graduate studies, but continuing all his life to long "for the authentic." It was a romantic activity to be close to nature, and a joy to learn that there are rules of order driving the complexity of "natural relationships." He validated for me loving the wild and wanting to be part of it all, noticing and savoring it, imprinting on it, being one with it. It made getting close to the land to feel the freedom of it in the wild outdoors, as from the 1893 Rudyard Kipling poem, "The Young…

By Paul L. Errington,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Book by Errington, Paul Lester


Book cover of The Curve of Time: The Classic Memoir of a Woman and Her Children Who Explored the Coastal Waters of the Pacific Northwest

Who am I?

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

Mark Doherty Why did Mark love this book?

As I read M. Wylie Blanchet’s book, I myself was transported through time to one of the most magical and beautiful places in North America—the islands, bays, fjords, and estuaries of British Columbia.

In addition to being right on the water and immersed in the great forests, I was also, like her young children, at school, constantly learning new things about history, culture, ecology, philosophy, and even seamanship! The lively dialogue also made me feel like one of the family, conversing easily as we explored a land that was at that time, very sparsely populated by humanity.

Throughout the book, I noticed and enjoyed a theme of a rich cultural history that portrayed both the First People cultures as well as the fiercely independent and tough early Europeans who settled in select places along the coast. 

By M. Wylie Blanchet,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

After her husband died in 1927, leaving her with five small children, everyone expected the struggles of single motherhood on a remote island to overcome M. Wylie Blanchet. Instead, this courageous woman became one of the pioneers of "family travel," acting as both mother and captain of the twenty-five-foot boat that became her family's home during the long Northwest summers. Blanchet's lyrically written account reads like fantastic fiction, but her adventures are all very real. There are dangersrough water, bad weather, wild animalsbut there are also the quiet respect and deep peace of a woman teaching her children the wonder…


Book cover of The Sea Runners

Kim Brown Seely Author Of Uncharted: A Couple's Epic Empty-Nest Adventure Sailing from One Life to Another

From my list on sailors, sea adventurers, and romantics at heart.

Who am I?

Kim Brown Seely was born and raised in Southern California and graduated from Stanford University. A Lowell Thomas Journalist of the Year, she has worked in publishing on both coasts, including as senior editor at Travel + Leisure magazine, contributing editor at National Geographic Adventure, and travel editor at Microsoft and Amazon. Her memoir Uncharted: A Couple’s Epic Empty-Nest Adventure Sailing from One Life to Another was named one of the best books about retirement by the Wall Street Journal and is also a Nautilus Award Winner. She has traveled to more than thirty countries for Virtuoso magazine, where she's a contributing writer and has won more than a dozen writing awards for her work.  

Kim's book list on sailors, sea adventurers, and romantics at heart

Kim Brown Seely Why did Kim love this book?

An exquisite novel, Doig’s The Sea Runners combines the suspense and drama of a great escape with lovely, spare descriptions of the Northwest Coast’s sea, wind, and space.

Based on an account of three men who survived a coastal canoe voyage from indentureship in Russian Alaska during the winter of 1852, it is a remarkable story of the human spirit versus inhuman elements.  

By Ivan Doig,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Based on an actual incident in 1853, award-winning author Ivan Doig's The Sea Runners is a spare and awe-inspiring tale of the human quest for freedom.

"Goes beyond being 'about' survival and becomes, mile by terrible mile, the experience itself."—New York Times Book Review

In this timeless survival story, four indentured servants escape their Russian Alaska work camp in a stolen canoe, only to face a harrowing journey down the Pacific Northwest coast. Battling unrelenting high seas and fierce weather from New Archangel, Alaska, to Astoria, Oregon, the men struggle to avoid hostile Tlingit Indians, to fend off starvation and…


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