100 books like Touching the Void

By Joe Simpson,

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

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Book cover of The 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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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 Alone on the Ice: The Greatest Survival Story in the History of Exploration

Jean-Philippe Soulé Author Of Dancing with Death: An Inspiring Real-Life Story of Epic Travel Adventure

From my list on exploration, endurance, and world expeditions.

Why am I passionate about this?

An ultra-endurance athlete, world adventurer, and award-winning author, Jean-Philippe Soulé has a passion for people, travel, culture, mountains, oceans, jungles, and the rest of the great outdoors. Inspired by Jacques Cousteau and other grand explorers before him, Jean-Philippe spent his childhood navigating life-changing experiences and pursuing personal achievements. After two years in the elite French Special Forces Mountain Commandos, driven by his desire for adventure, his yearning to discover new lands and culture, and his heartfelt interest in meeting diverse peoples, he left his native France to travel the world. This quest morphed him from a starry-eyed child to a recognized explorer, but only at the cost of abandoning the conditioning of the modern world and daring to do the impossible: a lesson he hopes will encourage others who refuse to accept being told “they can’t.”

Jean-Philippe's book list on exploration, endurance, and world expeditions

Jean-Philippe Soulé Why did Jean-Philippe love this book?

If you like books about epic expeditions, along the lines of Shackleton's Endurance, when the grand explorers of the early twentieth century had yet to reach the most remote regions of the world—books filled with more danger than fiction authors could imagine for a plot—tales of endless grit and survival—then you’ll love Alone on the Ice.

Combining his mountaineering expertise with his writing talent, author David Roberts brings you along with Douglas Mawson and his entire crew on the most incredible polar expedition, a complex story that involves sub-stories about other explorers and expeditions. (Mawson was a crew member on one of Shackleton’s early expeditions who almost reached the South Pole.) Unpacking the details takes a little time, but once you get acquainted with all these incredible people, you won’t put the book down. We modern adventure-seekers have a lot to learn from these pioneers. 

A gripping story…

By David Roberts,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Alone on the Ice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On January 17, 1913, alone and near starvation, Douglas Mawson, leader of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, was hauling a sledge to get back to base camp. The dogs were gone. Now Mawson himself plunged through a snow bridge, dangling over an abyss by the sledge harness. A line of poetry gave him the will to haul himself back to the surface.

Mawson was sometimes reduced to crawling, and one night he discovered that the soles of his feet had completely detached from the flesh beneath. On February 8, when he staggered back to base, his features unrecognizably skeletal, the first…


Book cover of Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

Sam Murphy Author Of Run Your Best Marathon: Your trusted guide to training and racing better

From my list on challenge the status quo about how to run.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was a journalist, writing about health and fitness for women’s magazines and national newspapers, I had a strong sense that much of the advice being doled out by personal trainers and other ‘experts’ was dubious, to say the least. I decided to see for myself, embarking on an Exercise and Sport Science degree and training as a running coach. Two decades on, with a handful of running books and a 13-year-strong column in Runner’s World to my name, I still like to delve into the science underpinning physical activity to see if it really stands up, and if so, for who, and under what circumstances?  

Sam's book list on challenge the status quo about how to run

Sam Murphy Why did Sam love this book?

This must be one of the most widely read running books. For good reason – it’s a great read – exciting story, quirky characters – by an excellent journalist.

But at the heart of it lies one question: ‘Why does my foot hurt?’ McDougall’s quest to find out, his deep dive into the evidence underpinning many accepted aspects of the ‘science’ of running, is what influenced me as a runner, and as a coach.

Why do runners wear built-up shoes? Why do runners only move their bodies in one plane of motion and expect to have all-round fitness? Why do so many people lose the joy in running? Why don’t we eat salad for breakfast? If you read this book, and change nothing about your running, I’ll be surprised.

By Christopher McDougall,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Born to Run as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At the heart of Born to Run lies a mysterious tribe of Mexican Indians, the Tarahumara, who live quietly in canyons and are reputed to be the best distance runners in the world; in 1993, one of them, aged 57, came first in a prestigious 100-mile race wearing a toga and sandals. A small group of the world's top ultra-runners (and the awe-inspiring author) make the treacherous journey into the canyons to try to learn the tribe's secrets and then take them on over a course 50 miles long.

With incredible energy and smart observation, McDougall tells this story while…


Book cover of The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story

John Willkom Author Of Walk-On Warrior: Drive, Discipline, and the Will to Win

From my list on inspiration.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a former Division 1 basketball player at Marquette University and current ecommerce executive, I’m always looking for new sources of inspiration. Please enjoy my list and send me any comments on what you find inspiring!

John's book list on inspiration

John Willkom Why did John love this book?

This is a different type of inspiration, one rooted in exploration and going to places that no man has gone before. The author himself goes on a journey to find a lost city in the Honduran rainforest, and while sexy on the outside, discovers the stark challenges that exist in the world’s densest jungle. If you’re an adventure seeker, you’ll really enjoy this book.

By Douglas Preston,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Lost City of the Monkey God as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller, named one of the best books of the year by The Boston Globe and National Geographic: acclaimed journalist Douglas Preston takes readers on a true adventure deep into the Honduran rainforest in this riveting narrative about the discovery of a lost civilization -- culminating in a stunning medical mystery.

Since the days of conquistador Hernán Cortés, rumors have circulated about a lost city of immense wealth hidden somewhere in the Honduran interior, called the White City or the Lost City of the Monkey God. Indigenous tribes speak of ancestors who…


Book cover of Annapurna: The First Conquest of an 8,000-Meter Peak

Craig Storti Author Of The Hunt for Mount Everest

From my list on the climbing history of the Himalayas.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with the Himalayas in the 8th grade and vowed to go there one day. Eighteen years later I fell in love again, with a woman this time, who was living in Nepal. While living there I trekked extensively and read everything I could about the mountains, especially Everest. I thought it was odd that all the Everest books started in 1921, but the mountain was discovered in 1853. What took them so long? Hence my book The Hunt for Mount Everest.

Craig's book list on the climbing history of the Himalayas

Craig Storti Why did Craig love this book?

Annapurna is a classic: a classic book about a classic climb. Annapurna is only the 10th highest mountain in the world, but it is the most dangerous of all 14 of the giants, those peaks over 8,000 meters. It should not even have been attempted under the circumstances described in this book. But never mind: the odds were utterly against success. No worries on that front; the French—they were the ones trying—were never going to be the first to summit a giant. Only no one told them. (Craig Storti’s forthcoming book retells this classic tale.)

By Maurice Herzog,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Top 100 Sports Books of All Time, Sports Illustrated "Those who have never seen the Himalayas, those who never care to risk an assault, will know when they finish this book that they have been a companion of greatness."-New York Times Book Review In 1950, when no mountain taller than 8,000 meters had ever been climbed, Maurice Herzog led an expedition of French climbers to the summit of an 8,075-meter (26,493-foot) Himalayan peak called Annapurna. But unlike other climbs, the routes up Annapurna had never been charted. Herzog and his team had to locate the mountain using crude maps, pick…


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

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?

Bryson inspired me while writing a book about my walk along the 600 miles of the Israel Trail.

He hiked the famous Appalachian Trail, but it was his traveling companion–an amusing type who has difficulty walking, who stands at the center of the book. I had more than one friend like this with me, and I learned that trees and landscapes are just the background in a travel book.

By Bill Bryson,

Why should I read it?

11 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 Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster

Robert Averill Author Of NeuroAdventures: The Art and Science of Hunting and Gathering Happiness

From my list on peak and transformative human experience.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always craved outdoor adventure. My earliest preschool memories include frog hunting in the fields behind my house, and careening down hills around the neighborhood on my metal-wheeled skateboard. In middle school, I progressed to BMX, spearfishing and surfing. After college, I added snow and water skiing, windsurfing, and eventually mountain biking to the mix, and was fortunate to have a career that allowed time and resources to travel the world extensively seeking adventure. Now well into my sixties, I research and write about science, extreme sports, nature and philosophy in between daily hikes and mountain bike rides around the homebase and monthly journeys to destinations unknown.

Robert's book list on peak and transformative human experience

Robert Averill Why did Robert love this book?

I have always enjoyed reading a well-written subjective account of my fellow outdoor enthusiasts’ experiences during their chosen adventures. This book took it to another level.

While we all accept that the substantial rewards from our activities can carry substantial risks, we attempt to mitigate these risks whenever possible through experience and sound judgment. But sometimes Nature has her own agenda.

This heart-wrenching saga of a failed Everest expedition reinforced my motivation to prepare for the unexpected and served as a stark reminder that we have to be willing to pay the ultimate price for our rewards. But it also illustrated the fierce determination and selfless heroism that can be found in the human spirit.

By Jon Krakauer,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked Into Thin Air as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER • The epic account of the storm on the summit of Mt. Everest that claimed five lives and left countless more—including Krakauer's—in guilt-ridden disarray. 

"A harrowing tale of the perils of high-altitude climbing, a story of bad luck and worse judgment and of heartbreaking heroism." —PEOPLE

A bank of clouds was assembling on the not-so-distant horizon, but journalist-mountaineer Jon Krakauer, standing on the summit of Mt. Everest, saw nothing that "suggested that a murderous storm was bearing down." He was wrong. 

By writing Into Thin Air, Krakauer may have hoped to exorcise some of his own demons…


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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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 Robinson Crusoe

Elizabeth Flann Author Of Beware of Dogs

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

Why am I passionate about this?

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?

This book was the granddaddy of the adventure genre. Writing in the 1700s, Defoe provided all the touch-points that have dominated the genre to the present day – desert island, castaway, man Friday, fear of man-eating beasts – almost all of which I have used in a book written in the 2020s (although my Alix did not find a man Friday). As possibly the first fictional story of human survival it created a template for all that followed. Each of the books I have mentioned, including my own, have to deal with endless problems from the mundane (what can I eat?) to the sublime (what am I here for?) and despite some occasional sermonising, Defoe showed us how to do it. I have just reread it for the fourth time, and yes, I skipped some passages, but nonetheless, it’s a rollicking good read.

You may be shocked by some of…

By Daniel Defoe,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Robinson Crusoe has a universal appeal, a story that goes right to the core of existence' Simon Armitage

Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, regarded by many to be first novel in English, is also the original tale of a castaway struggling to survive on a remote desert island.

The sole survivor of a shipwreck, Robinson Crusoe is washed up on a desert island. In his journal he chronicles his daily battle to stay alive, as he conquers isolation, fashions shelter and clothes, enlists the help of a native islander who he names 'Friday', and fights off cannibals and mutineers. Written in…


Book cover of The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Through the Heart of the Grand Canyon

Becky Lomax Author Of Moon USA National Parks: The Complete Guide to All 63 Parks

From my list on US national parks from science to thrillers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up hiking and camping with my family in the national parks of Washington. Isn’t that what everyone did in summer? Later, I learned how wrong I was. That most people had never seen a glacier, stood on a mountaintop, walked through a rainforest, gazed at the size of a grizzly, skied past erupting geysers, or rafted a rushing river. These experiences have shaped who I am. I return to the haunts of national parks, from deserts to mountains and remote islands, because they wow me and feed my soul. 

Becky's book list on US national parks from science to thrillers

Becky Lomax Why did Becky love this book?

After I backpacked the Inner Canyon and Tonto Trail for 10 days in Grand Canyon, I longed for a book like this: one that would wrap the massive creation of the Grand Canyon into a compelling story and explore the depth of human connection. Fedarko adeptly weaves in history, geology, environmental concerns, wildlife, flora, Indigenous culture, and climate around a thrilling dory adventure on the Colorado River—so much so that you feel you really know the park. To pair reading it with hiking or boating into the inner canyon yields an immersive experience where you can see, touch, and breathe much of what he describes. This book is always my first recommendation for anyone headed to Grand Canyon, and I’ll re-read it again during my next Grand Canyon visit.

By Kevin Fedarko,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From one of Outside magazine’s “Literary All-Stars” comes the thrilling true tale of the fastest boat ride ever, down the entire length of the Colorado River and through the Grand Canyon, during the legendary flood of 1983.

In the spring of 1983, massive flooding along the length of the Colorado River confronted a team of engineers at the Glen Canyon Dam with an unprecedented emergency that may have resulted in the most catastrophic dam failure in history. In the midst of this crisis, the decision to launch a small wooden dory named “The Emerald Mile” at the head of the…


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