With warmer weather just around the corner (groundhog be damned), our thoughts are turning to the great outdoors and the joys of camping. Springtime is ideal for breaking out those tents, lacing up the hiking boots, and brushing up on those fire-starting skills. As a matter of fact, I’m currently in the midst of planning the first big camping excursion of the season and it got me thinking – this is the perfect time for a few books to stoke that desire for a little time communing with nature. Here are ten of our favorites.
Simple Recipes for Camping, Cabins, and the Great Outdoors
What better way to get in the mood for camping season than a first class cookbook catering to the outdoor foodie? Built around easy-to-prepare recipes – several of which can be prepped well ahead of time – this book provides not only the recipes themselves, but plenty of tips and tricks to make you a top-flight camp chef.
A Vintage National Parks Novel
This bit of historical fiction centers on water-colorist Olivia Rutherford who lands a contract to paint illustrations of Yosemite National Park for a travel magazine. In doing so, she meets Clark Johnson, a disgraced minister turned Parks Ranger. With Clark as her guide, Olivia begins to get a sense of the wonder and natural splendor that defines Yosemite and learns a thing or two about herself in the process.
And Other Tips for Surviving Animal Encounters of All Kinds
While camping is a favorite pastime for millions of Americans, it does come with a very particular and potentially very dangerous set of challenges: namely us squishy humans encroaching on some wild spaces. This handy field guide provides all the information a budding outdoorsman (or woman) could need to deal with unexpected animal encounters, ranging from moose sightings (they’re shockingly dangerous, just ask basically anyone from Alaska) to avoiding ticks, and everything in between.
From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
At twenty-two years old with virtually nothing left to lose, Cheryl Strayed made the wildly impulsive decision to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert to Washington State. The kicker? Cheryl was not a hiker – she had virtually no experience and no training. What followed was a oft-harrowing, occasionally hilarious, and life-affirming experience that put a floundering life back on track.
A 10 Notebook Set
These pocket-sized guides are a handy and stylish addition for any level of camping/outdoor enthusiast. Perfect for recording everything from trail notes to nature musings to camp recipes, these notebooks are a great, simple add-on to your backpacking kit.
Crafted with hikers and campers in mind, Backcountry Log is the perfect addition to fill out any camping kit. Built for the trail, the log has space for recording the details of multiple hikes and explorations as well as illustrated appendices covering trail etiquette and how to identify animal tracks.
A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession
If you’re among the uninitiated, it might surprise that you to know that birding (or birdwatching) is one of the fastest growing hobbies in the world. It’s also a perfect activity for outdoor enthusiasts of any level. The Big Year – referring to the incredibly competitive attempts to obtain the record for the most bird species sighted in a single year – is a rollicking, humorous, and fascinating tale of obsession, competitiveness, and unexpected camaraderie.
Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail
The Appalachian Trail features a collection of some of the most breathtaking hikes in America. Stretching from Georgia to Maine, it’s a hiker’s dream, and making your way along the entire trail is no mean feat. Fortunately, Bill Bryson makes a particularly comical and entertaining guide. A Walk in the Woods is equal parts informative, inspirational, and laugh-out-loud funny. Not a bad combination.
Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau’s well-known classic is a compelling account of one man’s attempt to commune with nature and discover a simpler life. It has since become an indelible part of the American literary landscape. Thoreau’s detailed and brilliantly-written observations of nature are essentially a siren call to make your way into the great outdoors.
The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit
If you’re anything like me, the idea of shedding the irritations of modern life and heading off to live like a hermit has definitely crossed your mind. Considering the secluded life and actually acting on it are two very different beasts though. For Christopher Knight, however, the idea of living a simpler, reclusive life was more than just a passing fancy. At twenty years old, Christopher disappeared into the woods of Massachusetts. Over the next twenty seven years, he lived in a tent and foraged supplies in near isolation – he didn’t speak to a single person in that time period. His story, told through extensive interviews, is one that is both fascinating and a thought-provoking examination of what exactly makes a good life.