Backcountry bookshelf


Broadcaster, formerly "ashergrey"
May 5, 2012
Looking to stock a bookshelf at the family cabin. Figured I’d turn to BCP for some suggestions. So what are the best outdoor-related books you’ve read?

Looking for recommendations for both children and adults, with a mix of fiction and non-fiction (excluding guidebooks).

To get things started, I’ve recently been reading Land on Fire: The New Reality of Wildfire in the West. Good book, quick read with some great photography.

Last summer I made it about halfway through The Lost Art of Finding Our Way. I expected to love the book but found it to be rather tedious, a bit like reading a manual.

I’d like to re-read Incident at Hawk’s Hill soon. I read it as a child when I went through a badger phase and remember enjoying it.
Here are a few favorites we are re-reading from our bookshelf.

Eating Stone Ellen Meloy
Raven's Exile--A season on the green river Ellen Meloy
In Search or the Old Ones and The Lost World of the Old Ones David Roberts
Limits of the Unknown David Roberts
House of Rain Craig Childs
Animal Dialogues Craig Child
The Chaco Meridian (3rd edition) Steve Lekson
Archaeology of the Southwest Steve Lekson

It will be interesting to hear what other BCP folks have on their bookshelf!

To all, be safe and be well.
The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Through the Heart of the Grand Canyon by Kevin Fedarko.

Listened to the audiobook of this a couple of years ago. Great selection!
Since I was in high school, I've been big on original accounts and nonfiction related to early American explorations in the West. Here are some of those (and other stuff) that I've read and enjoyed. Some of these may be a bit more boring to some though, depending on the book, but I've really enjoyed everything listed here.

The Journals of Lewis and Clark

Undaunted Courage - Stephen Ambrose

The Way to the Western Sea - David Lavender

John Colter: His Years in the Rockies - David Lavender

Journal of a Trapper - Osborne Russell

Yellowstone and the Great West: Journals, Letters, and Images from the 1871 Hayden Expedition - Marlene Merrill

Life in the Rocky Mountains - Warren Angus Ferris

The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons - John Wesley Powell

Rangers, Trappers, and Trailblazers: Early Adventures in Montana's Bob Marshall Wilderness and Glacier National Park - John Fraley

My Sixty Years on the Plains - William Thomas Hamilton

Others that are less about exploration but still great:

Grizzly Country - Andy Russell

Wind River Trails - Finis Mitchell (it's mostly an old-school trail guide, but there's cool history in it as well)

Wind in the Rock: The Canyonlands of Southeastern Utah - Ann Zwinger

Desert Solitaire (of course)
OK, laugh all you want Monkey Boy (sorry, Buckaroo Banzai ref.), but these are actually really fun reading, especially when you're in the outback (and all alone is even better), and the stories aren't gory or anything and are great reading even for adults - he has a bunch of them, all on Amazon, the audio books are good, too. I like them because they're kind of like going on an adventure with a Bigfoot thrown in for fun (and some are scary, which is even better). His places are accurate, AFAIK.

Rusty Wilson's Montana Bigfoot Campfire Stories
Rusty Wilson's Yellowstone Bigfoot Campfire Stories

Also excellent:
Windows into the Earth: The Geologic Story of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks
Geology Underfoot in Yellowstone Country
The Tectonic Plates are Moving!
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I recommend the journals of Richard Proenneke. They aren't always riveting but are a great read overall. The Early Years and More Readings from One Man's Wilderness are the most interesting, to me. It's not a bad idea to get the original "One Man's Wilderness" also, but now that I've read the unedited version of those journals, I prefer them. (The Early Years covers the time of One Man's Wilderness plus a few years after).

I've read a good bit of Jackson's recommendations and they are great.

Endurance by Alfred Lansing (on Shackleton)

Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez

The Final Frontiersman by James Campbell (about Heimo Korth)

The Secret Knowledge of Water by Craig Childs

Edit: I'll add a vote for Undaunted Courage, just because it is a very good read.
Coyotes Canyon by Terry Tempest Williams
Reinhold Messner's Crystal Horizon, don't like the parts he is talking to his imaginary friend.
X2 on Wind in the Rock.
Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing.
The South Pole by Roald Amundsen.
Endurance by Alfred Lansing (on Shackleton)

Just came back to suggest Endurance and see a couple others have suggested it too. When it was recommended to me I didn't think it would be something I'd be interested in, but I was hooked! Great book!
The Hidden Life of Trees
Desert Solitaire
A Walk in the Woods (not the movie)
Pure Land
Deep Survival
The Hour of Land
The Impossible Climb
Coming Into the Country
Arctic Dreams
In Search of the Old Ones (different from the one mentioned above - one is a "sequel")
The Climb by Anatoli Boukreev is the response by one of the guides on the mountain during the Everest tragedy as documented by Krakhour. Interesting alternate take on it.
+1 for Emerald Mile (so good), Undaunted Courage, and Exploration of the Colorado...

Last Season, Blehm - Interesting story about the mysterious death of a backcountry ranger in SEKI

Over the Edge, Child - Tommy Caldwell and friends kidnapped by terrorists while on a climbing trip

Astoria, Stark - Follows expeditions by land and sea to find a trade route between east and west coasts of US, shortly after Lewis and Clark

Lost in Shangri-La, Zuckoff - WWII plane crash, survivors living with indigenous peoples, amazing rescue
Understanding the U.S. means understanding water
Encounters with the Archdruid (John McPhee)
Control of Nature (also McPhee)
Rising Tide (John Barry)

Not water related
1491 (Charles Mann)
Guns, Germs and Steel

And some fiction
A River Runs Through It (Norman Maclean)
Lonesome Dove

Cooking Inspiration - Seven Fires (Mallman)