The most recommended wilderness books

Who picked these books? Meet our 11 experts.

11 authors created a book list connected to wilderness, and here are their favorite wilderness books.
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What type of wilderness book?


The Stars, the Snow, the Fire

By John Meade Haines,

Book cover of The Stars, the Snow, the Fire: Twenty-Five Years in the Alaska Wilderness

Charles Wohlforth Author Of The Whale and the Supercomputer: On the Northern Front of Climate Change

From the list on the dark, gritty, beautiful truth of Alaska.

Who am I?

I've never been anything but a writer, despite growing up and spending my first 50 years in Alaska. Alaska has been my major topic—what else could it be in that overwhelmingly powerful place?—but it has also been my frustration, because Alaska is a real place that exists in most readers’ minds only as a romantic vision, and they resist any other version. Like the real Eskimos in my book, whose world is melting from climate change as they pump millions of barrels of crude oil from their homeland. The writers I chose are all Alaskans, like me, who tell those stories about the magical, terrifying place that lies behind the Disney version you already know.

Charles' book list on the dark, gritty, beautiful truth of Alaska

Why did Charles love this book?

Haines was best known as a poet, highly respected by other writers but uncompromising and without much commercial success or recognition. This collection of essays in the form of a memoir similarly makes no compromise, dispensing with plot, characters, or even a clear sense of time and geography. Instead, Haines takes the reader deep into the mind of a lone man surviving for decades in the harshest wilderness, thinking, observing, and writing—his own mind. And the writing is so strong, it turns out, that he doesn’t need those usually necessary tools of narrative he pointedly ignores. Instead, we feel the cold, see the hypnotic stars above the snow, and feel the brittle edge of aloneness. Through sheer stylistic austerity, those dark lonely nights are real.

By John Meade Haines,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this wilderness classic, the quintessential Alaskan frontiersman relates his experiences from over twenty years as a hoemsteader. As New York Newsday has said of his work, If Alaska had not existed, Haines might well have invented it.''

The Hard Way Home

By Steve Kahn,

Book cover of The Hard Way Home: Alaska Stories of Adventure, Friendship, and the Hunt

Walter R. Borneman Author Of Alaska: Saga of a Bold Land

From the list on Alaska first-person accounts.

Who am I?

I wanted to visit Alaska since high school. It took me a couple of decades to make good on the urge, but I have made numerous trips. Alaska has everything I have always loved about Colorado, but in superlatives. From a historical standpoint, Alaska means mountains, mining, and railroads, exactly what I have written about in the lower forty-eight. Outdoors, there has never been any place that makes me happier than climbing mountains or rafting rivers. Spend two weeks in the Brooks Range with just one buddy without seeing another human and one comes to understand the land—and appreciate stories from people who do, too! 

Walter's book list on Alaska first-person accounts

Why did Walter love this book?

There are many books recounting living the wilderness lifestyle in Alaska. At the top of the list is probably Dick Proenecke’s One Man’s Wilderness. But The Hard Way Home deserves to be there, too. Steve Kahn has an engaging personal writing style that makes you think you are sitting by the fire in his cabin listening to his tales. 

And there are some whoppers: from boating on Lake Clark in imprenatrable fog to tramping the hillsides in search of Dall sheep, to being forced to walk miles through an unexpected autumn snowfall to be flown out from a hunt. Remembering idyllic summers at Farewell Lake to the horrors of the Exxon Valdez oil spill and much in between, Kahn writes like a guy who knows the real Alaska.

By Steve Kahn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A lifelong Alaskan, Steve Kahn moved at the age of nine from the "metropolis" of Anchorage to the foothills of the Chugach Mountains. A childhood of berry picking, fishing, and hunting led to a life as a big-game guide. When he wasn't guiding in the spring and fall, he worked as a commercial fisherman and earned his pilot's license, pursuits that took him to the far reaches of the Alaskan wilderness. He lived through some of the most important moments in the state's history: the 1964 earthquake (the most powerful in U.S. history), the Farewell Burn wildfire, the last king…

Yes, Let's

By Galen Goodwin Longstreth, Maris Wicks,

Book cover of Yes, Let's

Darren Lebeuf Author Of My Forest Is Green

From the list on young nature lovers.

Who am I?

I’m the kind of person who can stare at a leaf and be mesmerized by its colours and textures. As an author, illustrator, and photographer I am constantly inspired by nature, and through my work I hope that I can inspire others to find beauty in the outdoors. As a father, my favourite moments with my kids are when we are outside looking under rocks, following a ladybug, climbing trees, or trying to find the best stick. I love seeing how other authors share their passion, and this list shows some of the many ways that we can appreciate nature and all that’s in it.

Darren's book list on young nature lovers

Why did Darren love this book?

I love this book because it basically shows what a perfect outdoor day looks like, and inspires ideas for things to do. This book follows a family as they drive out to the country to go on a hike. The illustrations do a great job of adding to the text, as we see everyone in the family having their own little stories throughout the book.

By Galen Goodwin Longstreth, Maris Wicks,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Yes, Let's as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Let's get into the station wagon, roll those windows down, Let's sing out loud and wave to cows as we drive out of town. Let's park the car beneath the trees and trade our shoes for boots, Let's set the timer, all say "Cheese!" then head into the woods. In this cute book about a family's camping trip, the simple, rhyming text is enhanced by comical illustrations that bring wit and energy to every page. Packaged in a smaller size for little hands and easy to pack up, this book would be a perfect read-aloud during the car ride, along…

The Comfort Crisis

By Michael Easter,

Book cover of The Comfort Crisis: Embrace Discomfort To Reclaim Your Wild, Happy, Healthy Self

Lauren Cook Author Of Generation Anxiety: A Millennial and Gen Z Guide to Staying Afloat in an Uncertain World

From the list on how to cope and live with anxiety.

Who am I?

I’ve lived with anxiety for most of my life. Whether it’s been with emetophobia (a phobia of vomit) or an intense bout of panic attacks, I know the story well. Now, as a psychologist, I’ve seen up close what works and what doesn’t. I love helping my clients and the audiences that I work with learn how to accept their anxiety, rather than try to make it go away. This is often counterintuitive at first but we can still live an empowered life, even with the anxiety present. When we do this, we’ve unlocked a whole new level of liberation where we can show up fully, worries and all. 

Lauren's book list on how to cope and live with anxiety

Why did Lauren love this book?

This book seriously changed my life. Easter makes an incredible case for how we’ve gotten way too comfortable and how this is contributing to our overall anxiety.

My favorite part of the book highlights the Japanese concept of “misogi,” where we challenge ourselves to reach our mental and physical peak once a year. When I read this, it inspired me so much that I decided to run my first half marathon. This book will get you stretching yourself in exciting ways and it reminds you that your body and brain are way more capable than you’re giving yourself credit.

By Michael Easter,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“If you’ve been looking for something different to level up your health, fitness, and personal growth, this is it.”—Melissa Urban, Whole30 CEO and New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Boundaries

“Michael Easter’s genius is that he puts data around the edges of what we intuitively believe. His work has inspired many to change their lives for the better.”—Dr. Peter Attia, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Outlive

Discover the evolutionary mind and body benefits of living at the edges of your comfort zone and reconnecting with the wild—from the author of Scarcity Brain, coming in September!…

Ranger Confidential

By Andrea Lankford,

Book cover of Ranger Confidential: Living, Working, And Dying In The National Parks

Andrew Vietze Author Of This Wild Land: Two Decades of Adventure as a Park Ranger in the Shadow of Katahdin

From the list on park rangers and the wild places they protect.

Who am I?

Andrew Vietze was five years old when he told his older sister that one day, he would be a park ranger. Twenty-eight years later, he put on his badge for the first time as a seasonal ranger in one of the premier wilderness areas in the East, Maine’s Baxter State Park. Home of Katahdin and the terminus of the Appalachian Trail, “Forever Wild” Baxter has no pavement, no electricity, no stores, no cell service. As a boy, Vietze imagined a life flying around in helicopters, rescuing hikers off mountaintops, fighting forest fires, chasing wilderness despoilers, and plucking people out of raging rivers. And he's spent the past twenty years doing just that.

Andrew's book list on park rangers and the wild places they protect

Why did Andrew love this book?

Andy Lankford reveals the kind of secrets the NPS probably doesn’t want you to know in Ranger Confidential. She worked twelve years as a ranger, and she takes readers behind the scenes at Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and Denali. Did you know law enforcement park rangers are 12 times more likely to die on the job than an FBI agent? And that they’re assaulted more than any other federal officers? I didn’t either until I read this captivating book. I also learned that NPS rangers do everything we do at Baxter State Park—rescues, forest firefighting, enforcement, loon identification—just on a larger scale. Already a great work, Ranger Confidential will age into a classic, perhaps the be-all, end-all opus of ranger life. 

By Andrea Lankford,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For twelve years, Andrea Lankford lived in the biggest, most impressive national parks in the world, working a job she loved. She chaperoned baby sea turtles on their journey to sea. She pursued bad guys on her galloping patrol horse. She jumped into rescue helicopters bound for the heart of the Grand Canyon. She won arguments with bears. She slept with a few too many rattlesnakes.

Hell yeah, it was the best job in the world! Fortunately, Andrea survived it.

In this graphic and yet surprisingly funny account of her and others' extraordinary careers, Lankford unveils a world in which…

Book cover of The Practice of the Wild: Essays

Belden C. Lane Author Of The Solace of Fierce Landscapes: Exploring Desert and Mountain Spirituality

From the list on spirituality and wilderness.

Who am I?

Belden Lane is a wilderness backpacker and storyteller who has written extensively on the connections between human spiritual experience and the power of place. As Professor Emeritus of Theological Studies at Saint Louis University he taught theology and spirituality for thirty-five years with the Jesuits. Drawing on backpacking trips in the canyonlands of Utah, the Wind River Range of Wyoming, and the Australian outback, his books include Landscapes of the Sacred, Backpacking with the Saints: Wilderness Hiking as Spiritual Practice, and The Great Conversation: Nature and the Care of the Soul

Belden's book list on spirituality and wilderness

Why did Belden love this book?

A Buddhist activist and Pulitzer Prize-winning beat generation poet, Snyder celebrates “wildness” as a moral principle. It gives value to the living world and invites us to the wild places within, the inner wilderness that carries us beyond the comforting assurances of the mind. He cautions against looking for metaphorical and spiritual meanings “beyond and through” the natural world. This risks our not “seeing what is before our very eyes: plain thusness” … which in itself is more than enough to astound!

By Gary Snyder,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"This is an important book for anyone interested in the ethical interrelationships of things, places, and people, and it is a book that is not just read but taken in." ―Library Journal

Featuring a new introduction by Robert Hass, the nine captivatingly meditative essays in The Practice of the Wild display the deep understanding and wide erudition of Gary Snyder in the ways of Buddhist belief, wildness, wildlife, and the world. These essays, first published in 1990, stand as the mature centerpiece of Snyder’s work and thought, and this profound collection is widely accepted as one of the central texts…

Primitive Wilderness Living & Survival Skills

By John McPherson, Geri McPherson,

Book cover of Primitive Wilderness Living & Survival Skills: Naked into the Wilderness

Mark Warren Author Of Wild Plants and Survival Lore

From the list on nature education and survival skills.

Who am I?

As a child I was drawn to the forest by its aesthetics. I felt as if I were wandering through a masterpiece painting. As I grew older, I wanted to know more about the many working parts of nature. I quickly learned this: If I wanted to know nature intimately, I needed to know what the Native Americans knew. After years of study and honing skills, I undertook seasonal, self-imposed “survival trips” in remote areas of the National Forest. As an adult I served as a naturalist for the Georgia Conservancy, wilderness director for High Meadows Camp, and as director of my own wilderness school – Medicine Bow – in the Appalachian Mountains.

Mark's book list on nature education and survival skills

Why did Mark love this book?

The McPhersons cover a lot of ground: tool making, hide tanning, fire making, cooking, traps, containers, shelters, all of it geared mostly toward the Great Plains since they live in Kansas. I found the accompanying photographs to be a big plus, making the skills easier to replicate for the reader. The voice of the authors is personable and believable.

By John McPherson, Geri McPherson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Primitive Wilderness Living & Survival Skills as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book is an in depth "how-to" of outdoor primitive skills.

Your Cabin in the Woods

By Conrad E. Meinecke, Victor Aures,

Book cover of Your Cabin in the Woods

Jeanie and David Stiles Author Of Cabin: A Guide to Building the Perfect Getaway

From the list on hand-illustrated books on building.

Who are we?

As the authors of 27 hand-illustrated books, we are acutely aware of the time and skill required for good rendering. We are old-schoolers ourselves, having cut our teeth on “how-to” books before computers came into vogue. Our readers often tell us that a computer drawing does not have the same appeal and clarity as hand drawing. We are able to ‘talk’ a reader through the process of building something with our drawings. We have also found that the best illustrated books often have the best content!

Jeanie's book list on hand-illustrated books on building

Why did Jeanie love this book?

This is an oldie but goodie. It speaks to our own love of simple structures, designed to get you out in nature. The illustrations are simpler but fit in very well with the language of the era, and the personal philosophy of the author. There are floor plans, cabin renderings, and many smaller illustrations of the tools and furnishings that might go into a simple cabin. It is more than a how-to book. It is a celebration of cabin-living writ large. 

By Conrad E. Meinecke, Victor Aures,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Your Cabin in the Woods as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For 70 years, readers have been enjoying Meinecke's classic odes to the simple life, Your Cabin in the Woods (1943) and Cabin Craft and Outdoor Living (1947). For the first time, these books are combined into a deluxe two-color vintage package, featuring hundreds of charming illustrations by Victor Aures, known for his work with the Boy Scouts of America.

In writing both practical and inspirational, Meinecke details how to turn your dream into a reality, from building plans to choosing land to using tools. However the book's enduring appeal owes in large part to its warmly engaging tone and firm…

Book cover of Tom Brown's Field Guide to Wilderness Survival

Greg Everett Author Of Tough: Building True Mental, Physical & Emotional Toughness for Success & Fulfillment

From the list on self-reliance to achieve success and fulfillment.

Who am I?

As a coach of elite weightlifters, a lifetime athlete, an outdoorsman, and a passionate advocate for self-reliance, I’m continually searching for quality sources of information that teach, inspire, and drive us to improve our abilities—physical, mental, and emotional—to not just enrich our own lives and bolster our capacity to achieve what’s meaningful to us, but to become better contributors to the world at large and help and inspire others in turn.

Greg's book list on self-reliance to achieve success and fulfillment

Why did Greg love this book?

Survival books these days tend to be more flash and gimmicks than qualify information, just selling an author’s image rather than providing practical, valuable tools that can be immediately put to use by any inquisitive and motivated reader. Brown not only eschews such silliness, but he also provides the information in a tone and with an attitude sadly unusual in the genre and at large, inspiring curiosity, awe, and respect for the world around us rather than a clumsy attempt to dominate it.

By Tom Brown Jr.,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tom Brown's Field Guide to Wilderness Survival as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A fully illustrated wilderness survival guide perfect for seasoned and novice outdoors enthusiasts alike.

Here, in one essential volume, are the basics of wilderness survival. The most ancient and important skills, preserved for generations, are presented in a simple, easy-to-use format with clear illustrations and instructions. A complete must-have companion to the great outdoors.

• How to build natural shelters in plains, woods, or deserts
• How to get safe drinking water from plants, trees, the sun, or Earth Herself
• How to make fire without matches and maintain it in any weather
• How to find, stalk, kill, and…

The Edge of Limits

By Susanne Gervay,

Book cover of The Edge of Limits

Verity Croker Author Of May Day Mine

From Verity's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Passionate reader Keen swimmer Outdoor yoga lover Piano player

Verity's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Verity love this book?

This young adult novel is about consent.

A group of teenagers are on a survival trip to the wilderness where the harsh realities of battling the physical environment force the main character, Sam, to question his own inner struggles. Should he speak about what he saw that night, or remain silent and complicit?

I loved this novel as it gives insight into how teens think, especially boys, and leaves us wondering about what will happen after the truth is exposed.

By Susanne Gervay,

Why should I read it?

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