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My 10 Favorite Outdoor Adventure Books of 2020

A historical book about rafting down The Grand Canyon? Wolves? Outdoor Women? Grizzly Bears? They are all included in my 10 favorite outdoor adventure books of 2020!

By: Kalli Hawkins + Save to a List

If I were to find a silver lining in the year 2020, it was that I was able to spend the majority of my free time reading. I had time to slow down and dive into the growing number of books accumulating on my bookshelf.

One of my favorite things to do is stop into a local used book store and roam the bookshelves searching for an intriguing new book. From time to time, I swing into a Goodwill or ARC to peruse the bookshelves for a book related to natural history, conservation, wildlife, or ecology. I get quite excited when I can find a good book for just a couple of bucks. It’s similar to that feeling I get at Christmas when I open a present, and there are socks inside. Utter joy. It’s the small things in life.

I have attempted to read a handful of other books throughout this year; however, some have ended up being put back on the bookshelf with a defining bookmark signaling the end of my reading experience. I do try to give every single book a chance; however, if by the second or third chapter I am not completely captivated by the story or storytelling method, I gently place a bookmark between the pages and walk back to my bookshelf to pick up another. I’ve listed my favorite books from 2020; each has a common outdoor theme but differs in various topics.

10 Favorite Outdoor Books:

1. American Wolf by Nate Blakeslee

A true story of events about the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park in 1995. The book focuses on the specific wolf packs that were reintroduced and the wolf named O-Six that gained international attention. I had a hard time putting this book down!

2. Woodswoman III by Anne Labastille

Anne Labastille is one of my favorite authors! Hands down. She is a badass outdoorswoman who had written numerous books about her life living in a remote cabin that she built herself near the Adirondack Mountains. My goal is to read every single one of her books; her Woodswoman Series are some of my absolute favorites.

3. Women and Wilderness by Anne Labastille

I couldn’t stop at reading just one Anne Labastille book this year! In this book, Anne focuses on women who have had an impact within various facets of the outdoors. She starts the book with historical accounts of frontier woman and their path to becoming a ‘woman of the outdoors.’ She then writes 15 chapters, of which each chapter dives into the professional life of a woman kicking butt in the outdoor industry—a very inspiring and insightful book.

4. Body of Water by Chris Dombrowski

A wonderful book about fly-fishing in the Bahamas for the elusive bonefish. It was inspiring, full of passion for the sport, and gave a glimpse into the historical lifestyle of guiding in the Bahamas. It really made me want to book a flight down to the Bahamas for a fly-fishing trip!

5. The Emerald Mile by Kevin Fedarko

Rafting down the Grand Canyon? Yes, please. This book is full of historical events surrounding the infamous Grand Canyon. The main storyline focuses on the fastest ride in history through the heart of the Grand Canyon. I really enjoyed learning more about The Colorado River and the influential individuals involved in protecting it. If you want a historical yet thrilling adventure book, this is it.

6. The Naturalist by Darrin Lunde

Theodore Roosevelt can be attributed to having an immense impact on building the foundation of National Parks and protecting lands for public use. This book primarily focuses on Theodore Roosevelt’s life apart from his political standing. The author, Darrin Lunde, tells the historical story of Teddy Roosevelt’s first passions; nature and wildlife. The concept of what a naturalist was back in the late 1800s and early 1900s was drastically different than what we associate a naturalist to be in current times. This book explores what it was like to be a naturalist in that time, of which Teddy Roosevelt aspired to be. A truly captivating book and a must-read.

7. Down From The Mountain by Bryce Andrews

The ultimate conservation book that describes the painstaking story of learning how to navigate the boundary between human and wildlife conflict. The story focuses on the life of a female Grizzly Bear named Millie as she balances the temptations of human encroachment into her territory in Mission Valley, Montana. The author, Bryce Andrews, does a wonderful heartfelt job of telling Millie’s story.

8. All The Wild That Remains by David Gessner

Gessner focuses on the comparisons and differences between Edward Abbey and William Stegner, the two iconic and influential authors of The American West. Living in Colorado and having spent a lot of my time in Utah over the past nine years, I wanted to learn more about the landscapes and the challenges over water and resources that The West face. Abbey and Stegner were staples in this environment, and they had the foresight to see challenges ahead, some of which we are facing right now. I plan to dive deeper and read many more books about or written by Abbey & Stegner.

9. Wolf Wars by Hank Fisher

I have been doing a lot of research on wolf reintroduction since Colorado recently passed Proposition 114 in November 2020. This book focuses more on the politics and legalities of reintroducing a predatory species into a state. A super fascinating book, and I learned quite a bit!

10. The Nature Fix by Florence Williams

A book about biophilia, how our connection with nature can positively impact our minds and mental health. The idea that humans seek connection with nature and other signs of life is essentially the premise of the book. I think it is very relevant to our lifestyles and how, as a society, we have transitioned away from nature and into cities that are concrete and human-made environments. The main components of nature have been removed, and we’ve created a distance between the connections that we desire most.

Do you have a book you would like to recommend?

I’m always on the lookout for a new book to add to the list! Comment below with your recommendations!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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