Our Fall 2016 Reading List

This seasonal shift into fall reminds us of early morning school bus rides and walks across campus on leaf cluttered sidewalks. Although outdoor exploration tends to slow down as the weather turns colder, there are worlds to explore in words, and we got to wondering what books we should be reading this season.

We polled our writers to see what Adventure/Outdoor books they recommend. On our list:

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Finding Beauty in the Broken World by Terry Tempest Williams

(recommended by Rachel Goldfarb)

Williams is one of Utah’s foremost conservation champions. In Finding Beauty, she uses her observations of an endangered colony of prairie dogs in Bryce Canyon to create a mosaic, discussing how we can collect the broken pieces of the wild and place them back together to make a beautiful whole once more. We can ruminate on that.


Girl in the Woods by Aspen Matis

(recommended by Gale Straub)

Girl in the Woods is a memoir about a young woman hiking the PCT to chase away her demons, but don’t confuse it with Wild. An extension of her beautiful essay on the popular NYT column, Modern Love, Girl in the Woods is a story about healing after a rape and finding yourself on the trail.


A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold

(recommended by Hallie Rose Taylor)

Aldo Leopold was the father of American wildlife management, but don’t assume this book is as stodgy as that title sounds. In A Sand County Almanac, Leopold braids conservationist philosophy into his own gentle observation of, and admiration for, the natural world. The result is a rather poetic guidebook for developing an ecologically sound value system – something all explorers must have.


Tracks by Robyn Davidson

(recommended by Erin Sullivan)

It begins with this – “I experienced that sinking feeling you get when you know you have conned yourself into doing something difficult and there’s no going back.” Then Davidson treks nearly 2,000 miles across hostile Australian desert over nine months. Besides brief periods with a National Geographic photographer and an Aboriginal guide, the journey was a solitary one, consisting of Davidson alone with four camels and a dog.


West With The Night by Beryl Markham

(recommended by Hailey Hirst)

Beryl Markham had a remarkable life. An English woman raised in Colonial Africa, she hunted lions, trained racehorses, became a bush pilot, and in September 1936, she was the first pilot to fly solo non-stop from Europe to North America. This is her memoir. After reading her lyrical prose, Hemingway said, “… she has written so well, and marvelously well, that I was completely ashamed of myself as a writer.” Go, girl.


The Last Season by Eric Blehm

(recommended by Miranda Leconte)

The Last Season chronicles the life of legendary NPS backcountry ranger, Randy Morgenson, and his mysterious disappearance in July 1996 in the unforgiving Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. This book serves as a tribute not only to Randy Morgenson and all backcountry rangers, but to all hikers and lovers of the High Sierra.


Eating Stone: Imagination and the Loss of the Wild by Ellen Meloy

(recommended by Rachel Goldfarb)

Meloy spends most of her time in Utah’s Canyonlands, observing a near extinct band of bighorn sheep. The book parallels the health of the human imagination with the existence of animals. It is heartbreaking and gives a wonderfully human argument for the intrinsic value of wildlife.


Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

(recommended by Laura Hughes)

Anyone alive in the 90s might remember the 1996 Everest disaster – eight dead in a single storm, including a guide and two expedition leaders. The story has been told and retold, but this book is arguably the most thrilling and well-researched examination. Journalist Jon Krakauer accounts his harrowing experience on that trek. Part first-hand account, part non-fiction thriller, this book is a quick read that takes you up Mt. Everest and into thin air.


Wild by Cheryl Strayed

(recommended by Madeleine Boga)

With no experience and little preparation, Cheryl Strayed hiked the Pacific Crest Trail at age 22 after being driven to the thru hike by a dark past. Strayed’s honesty and wit guide readers through days of heartache and healing on her 1,000+ mile journey (If you still haven’t read this yet, we insist that you do.)


Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heartby Carrot Quinn

(recommended by Gale Straub)

We know, we know – three memoirs that center around the Pacific Crest Trail? Yet they all stand alone. Carrot Quinn’s Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart is transportive. The pace of her words, which are at times poetic and bordering on stream of consciousness, mirror your mind on the trail. It’s an honest account that delves into the psychology of thru-hiking. We couldn’t put it down.


Desert Solitaire by Edward Abey

(recommended by Kristen Blanton)

Edward Abbey lived for three seasons as a park ranger at Arches in Moab, Utah, and developed a complicated relationship with the red rock deserts of the Southwest. Desert Solitaire is a fascinating blend of experience and research, with tales of rafting soon-to-be-dammed rivers, death in the desert, survival, and solitude. If this landscape has ever called to you, this (along with Ellen Meloy’s writing) is essential.


Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv

(recommended by Megan McDuffie)

A book that sparked the “Leave No Child Inside” movement, Last Child in the Woods explores the growing disconnect between the modern child and outdoor spaces, the good that those experiences do for emotional and physical well being, and how we can bring that connection back to childhood (and into the next generation of little explorers).

Editor’s Note: This article includes Amazon Affiliate links, which provide a small commission for She-Explores. Learn more here.

What’s on your shelf this fall?