The best wilderness books

Many authors have picked their favorite books about wilderness and why they recommend each book.

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Tom Brown's Field Guide to Wilderness Survival

By Tom Brown Jr.,

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

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.

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.

I wrote...

Tough: Building True Mental, Physical & Emotional Toughness for Success & Fulfillment

By Greg Everett,

Book cover of Tough: Building True Mental, Physical & Emotional Toughness for Success & Fulfillment

What is my book about?

True toughness is a genuine command over ourselves and an ever-increasing mastery of the elements that define us and determine the course of our lives. It gives us the fortitude, mindset, and tools to not simply survive adversity, but to thrive through it and in its wake; gives us a broad and always expanding array of capabilities that create self-reliance and confidence, and give us access to new opportunities and experiences; ensures we understand who we truly are, and that we ultimately determine that identity and reinforce it daily with our choices and habits, and allows us to remain committed to our chosen path to achieve what we intend no matter what it is or how difficult the process. 

Yes, Let's

By Galen Goodwin Longstreth, Maris Wicks,

Book cover of Yes, Let's

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.

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.

I wrote...

My Forest Is Green

By Darren Lebeuf, Ashley Barron (illustrator),

Book cover of My Forest Is Green

What is my book about?

With art supplies in tow, a young boy explores the urban forest near his home, then interprets what he sees with his art. The boy is a keen observer who uses poetic, rhythmic language to describe the diversity he finds through all four seasons. His forest is both “fluffy” and “prickly,” “dense” and “sparse,” “crispy” and “soft.” It's also “scattered and soggy, and spotted and foggy.” His forest is made up of many colors — but he decides that “mostly it's green.” Each aspect of the forest inspires the boy to create a different kind of art: charcoal rubbing, rock art, photography, sponge painting, snow sculpture, cut-paper collage. To this artist, there's always something new to discover, and to capture!

Your Cabin in the Woods

By Conrad E. Meinecke, Victor Aures,

Book cover of Your Cabin in the Woods

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. 

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!

We wrote...

Cabin: A Guide to Building the Perfect Getaway

By Matthew D. Kirchhoff, David Stiles, Jeanie Stiles

Book cover of Cabin: A Guide to Building the Perfect Getaway

What is our book about?

David’s illustrations are both clarifying and enchanting. If a picture is worth a thousand words, he saves the reader hours of reading. Included are over 30 short stories, most less than a page, relating anecdotes and lessons learned over our years of cabin-building and cabin–living experience. You’ll read about Eagles that give and Ravens that take, bears that break in and canaries that break out, and any building project can go wrong – very wrong.

Cabin advances this shared philosophy: The value of a getaway is less about the cabin as a building, and more about the cabin as a portal to the outdoors—a way to slow the pace of life, live simply, enjoy nature, and build meaningful memories in the company of family and friends. In the end, that’s something most people desire.

The Practice of the Wild

By Gary Snyder,

Book cover of The Practice of the Wild: Essays

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!

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

I wrote...

The Solace of Fierce Landscapes: Exploring Desert and Mountain Spirituality

By Belden C. Lane,

Book cover of The Solace of Fierce Landscapes: Exploring Desert and Mountain Spirituality

What is my book about?

The book explores the impulse that has drawn seekers into the wilderness for centuries and offers eloquent testimony to the healing power of mountain silence and desert indifference. It interweaves a memoir of the author’s mother’s long struggle with Alzheimer’s and cancer, meditations on his own wilderness experience, and illuminating commentary on mystical traditions that seek God in the silence beyond language. 

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