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Adventure and Travel Books for Microadventurers - Campfire Chic

This page is dedicated to the adventure and travel books and guides Alex and I read. We will update this page as we read more and more books and resources. The links on this page will lead to Amazon.com, when available. These are affiliate links, which means that purchases made through the links on this page will result in a small commission for us.

(In alphabetical order)

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail

I’m probably the only person to night find Bill Bryson’s book to be hilarious. He writes about hiking The Appalachian Trail (which stretches from Georgia to Maine) with a friend…neither of them do much to prepare for the thru-hike and one ends up doing a ton of littering early on, which turned me off immediately. The author touches on the history and ecology of the trail and surrounding area and comes across as very anti-government-owning-the-parks but I think it’s more about his anger over the different things the Parks seem to do that destroys habitats in the process. If anything, this book will teach you more about what thru-hiking is like, how you shouldn’t just jump onto a big trail like this without some information and preparation, and will maybe make you think twice when you buy a ton of heavy gear “just in case.”

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

You may recognize this story from the movie it inspired: 127 hours with James Franco. Aron Ralston is familiar with the remote Utah canyon lands and went into one of the deep slot canyons expecting to be back at his truck by the end of the day. A boulder gets lose and pins his right hand and wrist against the canyon wall…which is where the clock starts. He spends 6 days in the canyon trying to survive (if only he told somebody where he was going or left a note on his car!) and ends up making the decision that probably saved his life…he had to cut himself loose. If you decide to watch the movie instead, make sure you’re sitting down during “the big scene” and aren’t squirmy, apparently some people fainted during that part of the movie when it was in theaters.

Bicycle Diaries 

Alex read Bicycle Diaries a couple of years ago and demanded to know why I didn’t include it in this list (it was originally 10 Books to Feed Your Wanderlust). This is David Byrne’s memoir about traveling across different countries on his bike. Get this book for the bike-advocate (or the new hot term: active transportation advocate) in your life. Byrne discusses what the conditions of roadways and city planning say about the state of a city while also covering what it’s like to visit foreign places on a fold-up bicycle.

High Infatuation: A Climber’s Guide to Love and Gravity

Steph Davis writes about how she found rock climbing, how it empowered her, finding love (even as a nomad), making friends, and what lead to her becoming a high-profile athlete. This book focuses mostly on climbing and doesn’t really cover her career in BASE jumping or wingsuit flying. I loved that this was sort of Steph’s origin story and the information she shares on climbing culture in Yosemite. Knowing that not all climbers start when they are super young made me feel better about starting pretty “late” in life. Her writing is conversational, which made it easy for me to blow through the book in a weekend.

How to Travel the World on $50 a Day Revised, Updated & Expanded

Nomadic Matt (aka Matt Kepnes) revised and expanded his popular How to Travel the World on $50 a Day book. Nomaid Matt has been traveling non-stop for nearly a decade and while he shares his adventures and tips on his blog, this blog combines his best advice into one book. He teaches readers how to travel the world on the cheap, gives advice on how to make traveling cheaper (like no exchanging currency at the airport because the fees are higher) and really tries to make it clear that traveling doesn’t need to be expensive.

I Hike

I read I Hike by Lawton (Disco) Grinter on a plane and ended up needing extra cocktail napkins because I was crying into my ginger ale during one of the chapters. Alex was nice enough to remind me to laugh more quietly during the other chapters of the book (oops!). I Hike is full of “mostly true stories” from over 10 years and 10,000 of long distance hiking. After listening to the Trail Show podcast a few times, it was nice to get a little bit more history on Disco and P.O.D. (there is a hilarious story about the benefits of hiking in a skirt involving P.O.D.). This book is hilarious and a super easy read as each chapter is a short story.

Into the Wild

Another one that Alex read. This is Jon Krakauer’s bestseller-turned-movie about Christopher Johnson McCandelles, who was inspired by Jack London and John Muir to go on a vision quest in the West and Southwest United States. He ends up in the Alaskan Wilderness where his body is found four months later. The author connects the dots and helps tell the story of what happened to a young man who was pulled into the wild.

Learning to Fly: An Uncommon Memoir of Human Flight, Unexpected Love, and One Amazing Dog

It’s Steph Davis’ (the author of High Infatuation, listed above) book that covers when/why/how she started BASE jumping and wingsuit flying. It was published just months before her husband (Mario) passed away in an accident while they were wingsuit flying in Italy and I put off reading the book because I know it’ll be incredibly sad to read about their relationship when I know the outcome. I read most of this book while on a flight to Vancouver, Canada and really liked how she picked up right after a huge controversy that essentially removed her from the rock climbing scene and splitting with Dean Potter (another well-known climber). I really liked how she didn’t think twice about putting her dog in the car and driving. She spent time with some friends, her brother, and spent some time alone. It’s the kind of book where you feel like you’re reading from your friend’s journal because Steph’s writing is so comfortable and clear.

Riding Sky High: A Bicycle Adventure Around the World

Pierre-Yves Tremblay shares the story of his 863 day adventure through Australia, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Australia, and the United States from 1994 – 1996. This cycling adventure covers 15,000 miles and Tremblay is accompanied by some friends for the adventure. He starts with a brief history of his childhood and how cycling has been a part of his life for a very long time before you’re launched into the start of the journey, which goes from France to Turkey, where you follow along through journal entries. This is definitely a book for the long distance cyclist in your life.

Slow is Fast 

This is a great coffee table book…but for small coffee tables, because this book isn’t large at all. I received a copy of Slow is Fast by Dan Malloy, Kanoa ZimmermanKellen Keene and handed it over to Alex as soon as it came to the door. The three authors share their story of traveling along the California coast using only human-powered travel…mostly by bicycle. They surf and meet interesting characters as they travel down the coast and capture photos, interviews, video, and more in this book/DVD combo. It’s the type of book that’s easy to flip through (minus the two-page full-color spread of roadkill they encountered along the way) but also good for getting an idea of what truly makes California unique. It’s like the book version of somebody’s Instagram that gets a ton of likes and inspires you to take your bike in for a tune up so you can go on adventures of your own.

The Calling: A Life Rocked by Mountains

This is a memoir written by Barry Blanchard, a respected alpinist known worldwide. He was introduced to climbing and alpinism in his youth and learns lessons from each mountain he encounters. He writes about his transformation from a poor kid who got kicked out of army cadets to world-class climber and alpinist. What is it like to get caught in an avalanche? Don’t worry, Blanchard’s description will have you feeling mildly claustrophobic and thanking your lucky stars that you’re safe in your reading chair. Keep your computer or phone nearby so you can look up some of the climbing and mountaineering terms because there is an assumption you know what he’s talking about.

The Last Season

Alex read Eric Blehm’s The Last Season a few years ago and our copy was destroyed while being stored so I’ll be looking for a copy at the library soon. The book covers the life of backcountry ranger Randy Morgenson, who mysteriously disappeared in the Sierra Nevada.  Alex really enjoyed the book and the mystery around the ranger’s disappearance…did he just walk off? Did he get lost?

The New American Road Trip Mixtape

What do you do when you get your heartbroken? Load up your station wagon and hit the road. At least, that’s what Brendan Leonard (of semi-rad.com) did as he traveled and climbed his way across the American West. Like, I Hike, it was interesting to read a more personal side of somebody’s story, especially after following them online for a few years.  I think The New American Road Trip Mixtap will resonate with other late-twenties/early-thirties folks who aren’t quite sure where we fit in with the old idea of the American Dream.

The Tower: A Chronicle of Climbing and Controversy on Cerro Torre

Climbers and the Outdoor Industry in general mention Cerro Torre so casually sometimes that I knew I needed to learn more about what the heck they were talking about. Patagonia books sent me The Tower: A Chronicle of Climbing and Controversy on Cerro Torre by Kelly Cordes for possible review…is somebody watching me? Alex took the book before I could crack the spine and got to work. Cerro Torre is in Patagonia is an iconically beautiful peak that lures adventurers the world-over. The in a nutshell, controversy is that the route the Cesare Maestri (he claimed to be the first person to ascend Cerro Torre first) used seems to not be useable…attempts to retrace his steps are not successful because climbers are finding contradictions in his description of the route. Alex enjoyed the book and I’m planning on bringing it with me on our next road trip.

Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart: An Adventure on the Pacific Crest Trail 

In this book you’ll follow Carrot her trailer in Portland, Oregon to the trailhead of the Pacific Crest Trail. She doesn’t seem to have a lot of experience with long distance hiking, let alone going on a months-long adventure on her own. She has some trouble along the way, learns how to take better care of her feet, starts calling her sleeping quilt her “fluffer puff,” and eats the amount of ice cream coach potatoes like us can only dream of. She doesn’t hold back in her descriptions and keeps it real: thru-hiking isn’t easy and isn’t for the faint of heart. This book is by Carrot Quinn. You can read my full review here.

Currently Reading: Sixty Meters to Anywhere by Brendan Leonard

Resources on our bookshelf

Links on this page will take you to Amazon.com. I am an Amazon Affiliate which means I receive a small payment for each purchase made through the links on this page. This helps support Campfire Chic and the microadventures and projects I have planned for the year. Some books on this page were supplied by publishers and media agencies but the opinions expressed are my own. The photo at the top of this page is from Death to the Stock Photo

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