5 Books Every Hiker Should Read
If there’s something that rivals my love for hiking, it’s my love for books & reading. So, reading books about hiking? Yes! That is the coalition of all good things! Memoirs, guide books, historical accounts, gear reviews.If it mentions hiking or a long distance trail, I’m hooked!
Of the dozens of hiking books I’ve read, these five consistently stand out as my favorites.
Becoming Odyssa by Jennifer Pharr Davis
The ultimate come from behind story. Jennifer Pharr Davis is a hiking legend, but she didn’t start out that way. This is her personal account of her first thru-hike is a young, inexperienced backpacker who tackled the AT solo. Through the pages you get to follow as Davis transforms from a self-consciece girl who can’t hang her food bag to the strong hiking goddess she is today. She’s hiked on six continents, thru hiked the AT three times and for years she held the speed record of the AT. On top of all that, she’s an excellent writer (she was an English major in college). Fair warning, this book will make you want to instantly stop what you’re doing and hit the trails!
A Road More or Less Traveled by Otis & Roberts
This is not a well known book, but it should be! It’s hilarious and ADVENTURE PACKED. Seriously, these two hikers ran into every wonderfully weird block between Georgina to Maine and lived to tell about it. It’s written in quirky prose by two even quirkier hiking partners and will have you laughing until your ribs hurt. I found out about this book when I randomly met a thru-hiker in passing, he said I had to read it (he’d been on the trail when these guys were hiking and said they’d had the best experience). He took my address, a few weeks later I received his well worn copy in the mail and I’ve been saying thank you ever since. IT’S SO GOOD.
She Walks These Hills by Sharyn McCrumb
Okay, this is so not a typical book that you think of when you think “hiking genre” but it wouldn’t disappoint a hiking enthusiast. It’s a fantastic novel that incorporates the real life story of Mary Draper Ingles, pioneer woman who was kidnapped by the Shawnee Indians. She escaped and then walked 600 miles through the Appalachian mountains to get back home. This is a really well written, exciting mystery novel that is also packed with Appalachian history, folk lore and the incredible story of Mary Ingles (who was also the ultimate UL hiker…she escaped with only the clothes on her back and foraged along the way.) Side note: another great book about this same great woman is Follow the River by James Alexander Thom.
Appalachian Trials by Zach Davis
We all know that this book excellent preparation for long distance hiking but it’s message also rings true for every other area of life: jobs, relationships, goals. Once you decide to go for something, you have to stick through even when the hunky-dory “honeymoon” phase wears away. I’m still working my way through this book, really taking time to make out my lists and linger over each chapter because I know that if I apply the advice in this book to my life, I’ll make it to Maine.
The Barefoot Sisters: Southbound by Lucy and Susan Letcher
Okay, you’ve probably heard of the Barefoot Sisters! They walked from Maine to Georgia…barefoot! They loved the AT so much that when they got to Georgia they turned around and hiked right back to Maine! But if you haven’t taken the time to read their book…you’re missing out! They’re both gifted writers and they include so much detail that you feel like you’re there.
There are sooooo many great trail books out there and I’m always looking for new ones!
What books did I leave out that you think should have been on here?
Happy trails & happy reading!
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