I know it’s July and it’s hot as blazes. Many of us just want to sit next to our cool, life-saving window unit, letting the days pass us by. But, come on. Just look outside. There’s a whole world to explore out there! Do you think Lewis and Clark let a little heat hinder their trek across the American West? You’re damn right, it didn’t. Summer really is the best season for going on outings and adventures.
So get off your love seat, grab a Camelback, and go hiking/camping/skydiving — whatever makes you happy. And to get you in the mood, here are four books to give you that little extra push:
Into the Wild by John Krakauer (Anchor Books, January 20, 1997)
Right after graduating college in 1992, Christopher McCandless abandoned his car, donated all his money, burned all the cash in his wallet, and adopted the name Alexander Supertramp. In search for a new life in the remote wilderness of Alaska, McCandless follows in the footsteps of his hero, explorer and author Jack London. Four months later, he is found dead. Legendary nonfiction writer John Krakauer traces his journey, visiting the places he went and talking to the people touched by this enigma of a man. While knowing the main character died might discourage you, I suggest bringing a wallet and phone. No need to be so extreme.
Walden by Henry David Thoreau (CreateSpace Independent Publishing, May 6, 2016)
One of the most uncompromising figures in American history, Henry David Thoreau, author of “Civil Disobedience” chronicles his life living alone in the woods in a cabin he built. First published in 1854, Walden is THE American book on man vs. nature. While also recounting his struggles the activist author also writes on his quest for enlightenment and philosophy. He gave us a gift with this masterpiece. It’s a beautifully written story that is part diary, part economic theory, part philosophical treatise but all quintessentially Thoreau.
A River Runs Through It and Other Stories by Norman Maclean (University Chicago Press, October 1, 2001)
You might recognize this title and think, ‘oh yeah, that movie…the one with Brad Pitt…’ and while it was a good film, I think the book is infinitely better. This collection of stories celebrates the various lives of people living in the great outdoors. I remember reading this when I was 13 and have never been so excited about fly fishing. And I don’t even like to fish. Norman Maclean’s flawless depiction of the American landscape will make you gasp in awe and sigh with pride to live in a land capable of such beauty.
Grandma Gatewood’s Walk by Ben Montgomery (Chicago Review Press, April 1, 2014)
Emma Gatewood, a 67-year-old grandmother from Ohio told her family she was going out on a walk. With nothing but a change of clothes and some cash, she literally walks the whole Appalachian Trail (that’s 2,050 miles!) Gatewood is the first woman to traverse the large trail and the first person –- man or woman — to do it three times. Her harrowing journey raised awareness on conservation and preserving the trail’s ecosystem that many credit her for saving Appalachia. So, what’s your excuse? Step out your door and see where your path takes you.