I love books. I love being lost in a story, transported to another time or place, completely oblivious to the world around me. I read all year round, but there’s something special about summer reading, whether I’m stretched out on a beach or flat on my back in the shade, digging my bare toes into the grass. Tent reading is my favorite, letting the story unfold under the beam of my headlamp, and I love to wrap myself in an oversized wool cardigan (like the Tupelo Cardi or Go Everywhere ¼ Zip) handed down from my grandfather.
When I’m reading outside, connected to nature, that’s when I feel the story most. I’m completely immersed, and when I ‘come to’, I’m ready to lace up my boots and climb Annapurna myself, or sail the South Pacific, or get in a pick-up truck and start driving.
When I pick up the book again a few years later, I always find summer tokens in the margins: grains of sand, blades of grass, a pressed flower, or a road trip receipt. It’s an instant flashback to where I was and what I was doing, the stories forever entangled with a memory.
This list isn’t what’s new or hot. It’s not a list of the world’s greatest literature. It’s not even a list of my favorites (although some of my favorites are on it). This list is as simple as summer: 10 great books to keep you company on your adventures. They’re good stories. You won’t regret reading them.
- Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck: Steinbeck took to the road with his French poodle, Charley, looking for America. This travelogue chronicles what he discovered about the American character.
- South by Sir Ernest Shackleton: One of the greatest survival stories ever told. Setting out to be the first to traverse Antarctica, the Endurance is crushed by sea-ice, and 28 men begin an epic battle for their lives.
- Forget Me Not by Jennifer Lowe-Anker: A beautifully written story about love, loss, and resilience. This is more of a memoir than a typical travel book, but Lowe-Anker has a knack for writing about the places she’s experienced. She sees nature with the eye of an artist.
- Hitchhiking Vietnam by Karin Muller: Before the rise of the sponsored travel blogger, we had Karin Muller, the real deal, a 28-year-old woman who hitchhiked solo through Vietnam. This is a proper travel tale.
- Whatever You Do, Don’t Run by Peter Allison: Allison’s passion for animals drew him to Botswana, where he trained to be a safari guide. His collection of stories is laugh-out-loud funny, told with a self-deprecating sense of humor and a true love for nature.
- West with the Night by Beryl Markham: An extraordinary woman who lived an extraordinary life. Markham grew up in Kenya, skipping school to go hunting and becoming Kenya’s first licensed female racehorse trainer at the age of 19. She later became the first woman to fly solo east to west across the Atlantic.
- The Sun in the Morning, Golden Afternoon, and Enchanted Evening by M.M. Kaye: Kaye grew up in India, and her three-part autobiography tells the tale of an extraordinary woman living an extraordinary life.
- The Best of Outside: The First 20 Years by various authors, including Annie Proulx, Edward Abbey, Jon Krakauer and more: A collection of Outside Magazine’s best essays and articles from its first 20 years in publication. This is some of the world’s best adventure writers and storytellers doing what they do best.
- Deep Survival by Laurence Gonzales: Gonzales has studied the art of staying alive for decades, trying to learn more about who lives, who dies, and why. He combines riveting survival stories with science to seek out common traits among survivors.
- The Lost Horizon by James Hilton: An adventure novel at its finest that gives us the origin of the mythical sanctuary of Shangri-La.
Do you have a favorite travel book or summer read? Share it with us in the comments and/or via social media.
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