The Best Adventure Books to Get You Inspired

A list of 12 of the best adventure books and inspiring books about the outdoors for anyone who wants a little more adventure in their everyday life.

THE BEST ADVENTURE BOOKS TO GET YOU INSPIRED

By Bearfoot Theory’s amazing writer and book-lover Katherine Oakes

Stories are important. They bring inspiration, motivation and help us find common ground. Maybe you’ve had the experience of swapping stories on a chair lift, the trail or in the car during a long road trip; as outdoor enthusiasts, this is a huge part of what fuels our passion, be it face-to-face or in a book. It’s safe to say that our brand of stories is a bit more exciting and adventurous than most. After all, those are the stories that make the best adventure books, right?

So whether you’re reading by the fire, under the stars or while traveling, here are the best outdoor adventure books to get you inspired.

Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard

Inspiration from the king of outdoor adventurers himself, Yvon Chouinard, details his early years as a climber, the first climbing tools he ever made by hand and the origins of Patagonia. Let My People Go Surfing one of the best adventure books we’ve ever read and an instruction manual on how to center your life around the outdoors.

Let my People Go Surfing // A list of 12 of the best adventure books and inspiring books about the outdoors for anyone who wants a little more adventure in their everyday life.

Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube by Blair Braverman

As if Blair’s name didn’t inspire you enough, her coming-of-age story, Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube, is about a California girl achieving her dream of becoming a dogsled racer in the Arctic will convince you. Add this funny, relatable and motivating read to your list of books about the outdoors—and, of course, dogs.

Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube

The Nature Fix by Florence Henderson

A fascinating compilation of science, real-life experiences, and stories about why we’re built to be outside makes The Nature Fix one of the best books about the outdoors. Don’t get scared off by the science, it’s an enjoyable and quick read that’ll leave you wanting to go find some green space stat.

The Nature Fix // A list of 12 of the best adventure books and inspiring books about the outdoors for anyone who wants a little more adventure in their everyday life.

Merle’s Door by Ted Kerasote

While on a boating camping trip in his native Wyoming, author Ted Kerasote comes across a wild dog and their lives are bonded together in an instant. The premise of Merle’s Door is on living life of your own accord and the inimitable bond between dogs and people. It’s a touching and poignant read for dog lovers and outdoor enthusiasts and fittingly won the National Outdoor Book Award.

Merle's Door // A list of 12 of the best adventure books and inspiring books about the outdoors for anyone who wants a little more adventure in their everyday life.

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

This read is a rite of passage for any outdoor enthusiast. Into Thin Air tells the doomed true story of one fateful day at Mt. Everest that keeps you on the edge of your seat all throughout. This iconic book is hailed as one of the best adventure books of all time and deserves all the hype. It’s a must-read for all those who know what it means to love and respect the outdoors.

Into Thin Air // A list of 12 of the best adventure books and inspiring books about the outdoors for anyone who wants a little more adventure in their everyday life.

Heading to Everest this upcoming year? Check out these great posts to prepare:

Swell by Captain Liz Clark

Live vicariously through Captain Liz’s first book, Swell, as she tells stories of her life as a sailing surfer out at sea. What makes this one of the best adventure books is her perspective on staying connected to nature, yourself and the world around you one tidal cycle at a time.

Swell // A list of 12 of the best adventure books and inspiring books about the outdoors for anyone who wants a little more adventure in their everyday life.

The Emerald Mile by Kevin Fedarko 

In 1983 after one of the most catastrophic dam failures in history, as the Colorado River flooded and the waters rose higher, becoming more dangerous, Kenton Grua picked this exact moment to attempt to break a record for the fastest boat ever sent through the Grand Canyon. The Emerald Mile is a book about the outdoors that inquires why we love to find adventures in the wilderness.

The Emerald Mile // A list of 12 of the best adventure books and inspiring books about the outdoors for anyone who wants a little more adventure in their everyday life.

Looking to ride some rapids? Check out 5 great beginner river rafting trips!

Jimmy Bluefeather: A Novel by Kim Heacox 

A fictional story about the healing power of nature and our innate resilience when faced with trials—both indoors and out. Jimmy Bluefeather tells the tale of Old Keb, a native Alaskan who brings his grandson out of a deep depression by building a canoe to transport them to their ancestral homeland. Another winner of the National Outdoor Book Awards, it’s an inspiring and gripping book about the outdoors.

Jimmy Bluefeather // A list of 12 of the best adventure books and inspiring books about the outdoors for anyone who wants a little more adventure in their everyday life.

The Art of Getting Lost: 365 Days of Adventure, Big and Small by Brendan Leonard

Hilarious, witty and always inspiring, Brendan Leonard brings his classic candor to the pages of The Art of Getting Lost with pages and pages of adventures. He details each trip, provides logistics and advice as if you were trading stories with a seasoned outdoor adventurer. Check out his other writing, particularly, Sixty Meter Anywhere, for another one of the best adventure books out there.

The Art of Getting Lost // A list of 12 of the best adventure books and inspiring books about the outdoors for anyone who wants a little more adventure in their everyday life.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed 

It wouldn’t be a list of the best outdoor adventure books if we didn’t include Cheryl Strayed’s prolific memoir, Wild. A great read for experienced thru-hikers and aspirational backpackers alike, this book is a poignant and truthful depiction of what it’s like to work through heartbreak in the outdoors and why you’ll always be the better for it. A modern-day addition to the outdoor literary canon, for sure, add Wild to your list of books to read.

Wild // A list of 12 of the best adventure books and inspiring books about the outdoors for anyone who wants a little more adventure in their everyday life.

Interested in thru-hiking? Make sure to not miss these Bearfoot Theory posts:

Becoming Odyssa by Jennifer Pharr Davis

Similar to Wild this book from Jennifer Pharr Davis retells her transformative experience of life as a solo female thru-hiker on the Appalachian Trail. A story of overcoming obstacles, finding yourself, love and loss on the trail, Becoming Odyssa is like required reading for women outdoor enthusiasts looking for inspiration to fuel their own next adventure.

Becoming Odyssa // A list of 12 of the best adventure books and inspiring books about the outdoors for anyone who wants a little more adventure in their everyday life.

Eat & Run by Scott Jurek

Champion ultramarathon runner Scott Jurek also earned the title of New York Times Bestselling Author by penning this piece on the connection between food and running. In Eat & Run, Jurek shares some of his bests stories on endurance and willpower alongside the vegan recipes he uses as high-performance fuel. Kim, BFT’s Community Manager, cooked tons of the recipes while training for her first triathlon and give them two thumbs-up. This is the perfect read for anyone looking to find a deeper connection to their food and push themselves to reach their higher potential.

Eat & Run // A list of 12 of the best adventure books and inspiring books about the outdoors for anyone who wants a little more adventure in their everyday life.

What are your favorite adventure books? What would you add to our list of best adventure books?
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About the author

Katherine Oakes is an outdoor travel, sustainability writer and yoga teacher. As an avid hiker, skier, yogi (namaste) and aspiring environmentalist, her best days are spent getting a little dirt under her fingernails and fresh air in her lungs.

1 Comment on “The Best Adventure Books to Get You Inspired

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  1. Cannot believe Desert Solitaire didn’t make the list.

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