Here is a quick book buying gift guide of books I love, or can't wait to read/finish! I tried to keep these limited to books about or including some type of adventure, although I may have broken my own rule somewhat. Hopefully at least one book on this list catches your eye and inspires you to support one of these authors.
READ IT AND LOVED IT
by Adam Gnade
"San Diego-born author Adam Gnade writes about his homeland in the tradition of regionalists like Sherman Alexie and Willa Cather. Gnade’s California is a place of border clash, of a glimpse of stormy sea from a top coastal hills or rollercoasters, of ratty beach apartments and punk shows. A collaborative release by Three One G and Pioneers Press, this is a story that asks, 'What does it mean to hold fast to your dreams, ethics, and beliefs while the whole world tries to tame you?'"
Fiction stories about punk houses count as adventure, right? This book hits me right in the feels, so to say. I grew up in the same place at the same time. Although I did not spend time at the actual Locust House, I did get pushed into their drum set during a show at The Che Cafe as a young teenager. Adam Gnade does a wonderful job bringing you right into the place and time, of being a punk youth in San Diego. I found it both inspiring and nostalgic. Check out his newest book This is the End of Something but It’s Not the End of You which is both on my to-read list and on my bookshelf. I have been very bad about reading this year, so I'm sorry for how much that limits this list.
Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe
by Bill Bryson
"In the early seventies, Bill Bryson backpacked across Europe--in search of enlightenment, beer, and women. He was accompanied by an unforgettable sidekick named Stephen Katz (who will be gloriously familiar to readers of Bryson's A Walk in the Woods). Twenty years later, he decided to retrace his journey. The result is the affectionate and riotously funny Neither Here Nor There."
I feel like these books are in a weird order in terms of content, but I'm doing each section alphabetically.
I am such a dork for Bill Bryson. He actually inspired my own book so much that I know I quoted him in it at least once. Out of all of his books, this is the one. My favorite Bill Bryson book. Bill Bryson does not travel like I do or much of the others on his list, he goes from hotel to hotel in a manner that isn't so interesting - to be honest, but his witty shit talking will make it hard to put the book down. I have a ratty thrift store bought copy of this on my bookshelf as well as a digital version on my phone. While Tim and I were traveling Europe we ended up reading it aloud to each other from time to time off of my phone, sitting in parks sipping on beer when we had nothing to do and nowhere to be. I'm pretty sure many of these times resulted in tears streaming down our faces from laughter.
Ruthless River: Love and Survival by Raft on the Amazon's Relentless Madre de Dios
by Holly Fitzgerald
"Holly FitzGerald and her husband, Fitz--married less than two years--set out on a yearlong honeymoon adventure of a lifetime, backpacking around the world. Five months into the trip their plane crash lands in Peru at a penal colony walled in by jungle, and their blissfully romantic journey turns into a terrifying nonstop labyrinth of escape and survival.
On a small, soon-ravaged raft that quickly becomes their entire universe through dangerous waters alive with deadly animals and fish, their only choice: to continue on, despite the rush of insects swarming them by day, the sounds of encroaching predators at night. Without food or means of communication, with no one to hear their cries for help or on a search-and-rescue expedition to find them, the author and her husband make their way, fighting to conquer starvation and navigate the brute force of the river, their only hope for survival, in spite of hunger and weakening resolve, to somehow, miraculously hang on and find their way east to a large riverside town, before it is too late. . . ."
You think people attempting long-distance backpacking in the 2000's is adventurous, Holly Fitzgerald and her husband got lost in the Amazon in 1973! Adventurous honeymoon travels gone wrong, this true story of them fighting for their lives will keep you on the edge of your seat. This was a nail biter!
Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart: An Adventure on the Pacific Crest Trail
by Carrot Quinn
"Ditching the city for the wilderness; walking from Mexico to Canada, against all odds.
Carrot Quinn is weary of a life of screens, in a city where she feels disconnected from everyone. In a desperate move, she breaks away from everything to walk 2,660 miles from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail.
In the desert of Southern California Carrot faces many challenges, both physical and emotional: pain, injury, blisters, aching cold and searing heat, dehydration, exhaustion, loneliness. In the wilderness she happens upon and becomes close with an eclectic group of strangers- people she wouldn't have chanced to meet in the “regular world” but who are brought together, here on the trail, by their one common goal: make it to Canada before the snow flies."
This book was a special read for me, since I started it during my first week of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Every night as I laid in my tent I would spend around thirty minutes reading Carrot's book on my phone, reading about some of the same sections of trail I was sleeping on. It was an inspirational boost that helped lift my spirits when I felt low. My favorite thing about Carrot Quinn's story is that she was so relatable to me and the people I surround myself with. It was to the point that once I got service I actually looked her up on social media to see if we had friends in common. If you are newly interested in thru-hiking, whether you plan to follow a hike from the safety of your couch or plan the real thing, Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart is a great introduction of what one could potentially expect both physically and emotionally. Also, don't forget her second book about riding freight trains in her youth is coming out next year!
The Trail Provides: A Boy's Memoir of Thru-Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail
by David Smart
"Disillusioned by the corporate lifestyle, two inexperienced and unemployed college fraternity brothers set off on a soul-searching sojourn to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,650-mile continuous footpath from Mexico to Canada. David starts the trail barefoot, following the ways of his older friend Bradley, only to face the pains of walking, rising tensions, and falling behind to the coming of winter.
The Trail Provides is a story about companionship and lessons learned, dreams and reality, and leaving everything behind for the desire of transformation, insight, and self-discovery. Let’s begin the journey…"
Okay, time for some honesty. I almost put this book down once I started it! It's a self-published book that I think I got as a free download promo, so my expectations going in weren't exactly high (I know my book was too, so I'm sure people have had the same feelings going into my book). The reason I almost put it down was because David Smart (aka Stayin' Alive) and his friend were so ill-prepared in the beginning it hurt. And then they started hiking shoeless! I felt I had to continue reading at least a bit further to see if they smartened up or if their hike became a disaster. That's when it hooked me. The book was a great read from a different perspective. The two successfully hiked the Pacific Crest Trail (spoiler alert?), the same year I actually had to get off (who was the ill-prepared one now?). This was also a fun read for me since Tim and I apparently had just missed the author a few times on trail, and even shared hiking buddies. If you read I Have Everything I Need and want more 2015 Pacific Crest Trail action, this is the book for you! You will even get some of the same characters popping in from time to time. Either way though, if you want a fun thru-hike story, this one disserves a purchase!
SO FAR SO GOOD
Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie
by Andrew P. Sykes
"The academic year must have been a difficult one as when the summer holidays arrived, secondary school teacher Andrew Sykes was happy to do as little as possible. But while sitting on his sofa watching the exploits of the cyclists at the Great Wall of China at the Beijing Olympics, he realised the error of his ways and resolved to put a bit more adventure into his life. Two years later, accompanied by his faithful companion Reggie (his bike) but only a rudimentary plan, Andrew set off for a trans-continental cycling adventure that would take him along the route of the Via Francigena and the Eurovelo 5 all the way from his home in southern England to Brindisi in the south of Italy. There were highs and lows, rain and shine, joy and despair and they are all recounted here in a light-hearted, brisk style."
Andrew P. Skyes actually has a few of these "on bike called Reggie" books, for different Eurovello bike trails he has attempted. I am not done with this book yet, but getting back on the Eurovello is a huge future goal of mine, so this takes me back while informing me about possible sections to cycle.
They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us
by Hanif Abdurraqib
"In an age of confusion, fear, and loss, Hanif Abdurraqib's is a voice that matters. Whether he's attending a Bruce Springsteen concert the day after visiting Michael Brown's grave, or discussing public displays of affection at a Carly Rae Jepsen show, he writes with a poignancy and magnetism that resonates profoundly.
In the wake of the nightclub attacks in Paris, he recalls how he sought refuge as a teenager in music, at shows, and wonders whether the next generation of young Muslims will not be afforded that opportunity now. While discussing the everyday threat to the lives of black Americans, Abdurraqib recounts the first time he was ordered to the ground by police officers: for attempting to enter his own car.
In essays that have been published by the New York Times, MTV, and Pitchfork, among others--along with original, previously unreleased essays--Abdurraqib uses music and culture as a lens through which to view our world, so that we might better understand ourselves, and in so doing proves himself a bellwether for our times."
Coming across this video of spoken word by Hanif Abdurraqib inspired me to immediately seek out his books. They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us was recommended by a friend and has amazing reviews. I haven't finished it yet, but can't wait to! Definitely grab a copy, or look into his other work, if these topics interest you or if you feel inspired by the video below (You have to watch it. Content warning for sad situations involving drugs and addiction).
ON MY LIST TO READ
Enrique's Journey: The True Story of a Boy Determined to Reunite with His Mother
by Sonia Nazario
"It is the true story of Enrique, a teenager from Honduras, who sets out on a journey, braving hardship and peril, to find his mother, who had no choice but to leave him when he was a child and go to the United States in search of work. Enrique's story will bring to light the daily struggles of migrants, legal and otherwise, and the complicated choices they face simply trying to survive and provide for the basic needs of their families. The issues seamlessly interwoven into this gripping nonfiction work for young people are perfect for common core discussion."
Immigration stories are so important to be heard and shared, especially for those of us who live right on the Mexican border. This book sits on my bookshelf, and I can't wait to dive in and learn about Enrique's struggles to travel to be reunited with his mother. I have heard so much praise for this book, I had to buy it so I didn't forget to give it a read.
by Heather Anderson
"By age 25, Heather Anderson had hiked what is known as the Triple Crown of backpacking: the Appalachian Trail (AT), Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), and Continental Divide Trail (CDT)--a combined distance of 7,900 miles with a vertical gain of more than one million feet. A few years later, she left her job, her marriage, and a dissatisfied life and walked back into those mountains.
In her new memoir, Thirst: 2600 Miles to Home, Heather, whose trail name is Anish, conveys not only her athleticism and wilderness adventures, but also shares her distinct message of courage--her willingness to turn away from the predictability of a more traditional life in an effort to seek out what most fulfills her. Amid the rigors of the trail--pain, fear, loneliness, and dangers--she discovers the greater rewards of community and of self, conquering her doubts and building confidence. Ultimately, she realizes that records are merely a catalyst, giving her purpose, focus, and a goal to strive toward.
Heather is the second woman to complete the "Double Triple Crown of Backpacking," completing the Appalachian, Pacific Crest, and Continental Divide National Scenic Trails twice each. She holds overall self-supported Fastest Known Times (FKTs) on the Pacific Crest Trail (2013)--hiking it in 60 days, 17 hours, 12 minutes, breaking the previous men's record by four days and becoming the first women to hold the overall record--and the Arizona Trail (2016), which she completed in 19 days, 17 hours, 9 minutes. She also holds the women's self-supported FKT on the Appalachian Trail (2015) with a time of 54 days, 7 hours, 48 minutes. Heather has hiked more than twenty thousand miles since 2003, including ten thru-hikes. An ultramarathon runner, she has completed six 100-mile races since August 2011 as well as dozens of 50 km and 50-mile events. She has attempted the infamous Barkley Marathons four times, starting a third loop once. Heather is also an avid mountaineer working on several ascent lists in the US and abroad."
I bought this book as a gift for Tim when it came out, and am exicited to read it for myself. He only has good things to say!
NEW FROM ME
I am happy to announce I have put together a limited edition holiday package for I Have Everything I Need. There are only fifteen available, and it comes with a few items I have never sold, and will never again. I am also doing a giveaway of this package on Instagram which ends December 13th.
The package comes with original cover artwork, a zine of found items Tim collected during our trek across Europe and the US, 25 4X6 limited run photography prints from our travels with hand written notes on the back, and autographed book, and more! Purchase at speedcreamer.com
Thanks for reading!
Have an adventurous book to recommend? Drop it in the comments!