Ah, yes. The urbanism. The great advance of American society. Wide sweeping plots of asphalt. Bumper-to-bumper traffic. Box stores and Starbucks.
An inspiring landscape to say the least.
If you’re anything like me, you chaff in modern suburbia. You count down the days to your next escape from city life.
And then Corona hit. Closing outdoor spaces. Cancelling adventures.
It can be hard to find inspiration in anything these days.
Luckily, we can find a reprieve through written word. Just as it has for hundreds of years, books provide inspiration. Spark the fires of adventure. Create respite in a virus-ridden world.
The Wave by Susan Casey
The power of the sea has long held a tantalizing grip on our imagination. Stories brought back by sailors long stoked the powers of curiosity and intrigue, prompting tales of monstrous ocean creatures. For centuries, stories of monsters included titan waves. Standing hundreds of feet tall, these aquatic titans seem to laugh at the laws of physics.
But these gargantuan waves left the realm of fantasy in February of 2000 when a British research boat was caught in a a vortex of epic proportions.
Join Susan Casey, an adventuring journalist, as she chases mammoth waves and the surfers who ride them. Casey weaves a story of research and fearlessness, detailing both destructive tsunamis and the legendary surfer Laird Hamilton, who seeks to tame the giants under his surfboard.
Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
Jon Krakauer is an adventure journalist. An avid mountaineer, he regularly seeks out adventure in the backcountry. This thirst for adventure brought him to Mount Everest in 1996. Little did he know that this would be one of the deadliest disasters ever recorded on Mount Everest. Krakauer detailed his experience in the disaster in Into Thin Air.
Krakauer was writing a magazine article, which brought him to the Everest base camp to report on the commercialization of the mountain. However, as he prepared for the trip, his childhood desire to climb the mountain grew stronger. He joined an expedition led by Rob Hall. A blizzard struck as they descended from the peak, leading to the death of eight climbers.
This book is a tale of caution and respect for the power of nature. As Krakauer said in the book, “The plain truth is that I knew better but went to Everest anyway. And in doing so I was a party to the death of good people, which is something that is apt to remain on my conscience for a very long time.”
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
This autobiographical account follows Bill Bryson and his friend Stephen Katz as they attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail in 1998. Bryson is fascinated by the Appalachian Trail, which runs close to his home. The trail is home to breathtaking views, beautiful forests, serene lakes, and gorgeous mountains. What hikers wouldn’t want to traverse it?
Upon starting their hiking challenge, Bryson and Katz immediately run into problems. They quickly discover that they are sorely underprepared. Between the rugged terrain, huge distance, and their physical shape, Bryson and Katz were in for the challenge of their lives.
A Walk In The Woods is filled with science, colorful characters and raw challenges, all told with the lens of Bryson’s wry humor. It’s the perfect story to inspire your next great adventure. Just try to avoid the bears.
The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann
Percy Fawcett was a true Victorian adventurer. Fascinated with the unknown, Fawcett’s curiosity was piqued when he discovered a document known as Manuscript 512. Believed to be written by João da Silva Guimarães, a Portuguese bandeirante, it described a lost city deep in the Amazon jungle. Descriptions of huge arches, magnificent statues, and mysterious hieroglyphics proved too tempting for Fawcett. On his second expedition into the Amazon in 1925, Fawcett and his son disappeared into the unforgiving Amazon, never to be seen again.
In the decades to follow, countless explorers and scientists attempted to find any trace of Fawcett and his lost city. David Grann follows the excavations of archaeologist Michael Heckenberger as he unearths the mysteries of at the Amazon Xingu region. There’s a strong possibility that his might be the site of the Lost City of Z.
The book draws on history, science, and intrigue as Grann weaves the story of Fawcett with modern excavations. It’s a perfect book for the reader who’s sense of adventure is tantalized by the unknown of the Amazon.
Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson
Shadow Divers follows the adventures of deep wreck divers, John Chatterton and Richie Kohler, as the explore an unmarked WWII German submarine wreck off the coast of New Jersey. Sitting 230 feet below the water’s surface, exploring this wreck is wrought with danger. The divers must deal with immense pressure, hallucinations from their air mix, and entanglement as they navigate through the wreckage.
The submarine wreck was filled with mystery. There were no identifying marks on the sub and very few artifacts to retrieve. The experts, historians, and government officials were puzzled. By all accounts, the wreck shouldn’t exist.
Shadow Divers follows the six year journey to uncover the secrets held within the wreck. The divers suffered tragic loss, fizzling relationships, and hair-raising danger. As Goodreads said, “the story of Shadow Divers often seems too amazing to be true, but it all happened, two hundred thirty feet down, in the deep blue sea.”
The Quest for Life in Amber by George and Roberta Poinar
If you are a dinosaur fan, you are likely very familiar with the story of Jurassic Park. InGen begins extracting dinosaur DNA from ancient mosquitoes encased in amber, populating a zoo full of cloned dinosaurs. Could that actually happen in real life?
The Quest for Life in Amber follows the adventures of George and Roberta Poinar, revolutionary genetic researchers studying ancient DNA. The Poinar’s quest for amber takes them to all corners of the globe. They encounter trigger-happy black marketers, eccentric collectors, and brilliant scientists. They hike to quarries, visit distant museums, and small bazaars. All in a quest to find well-preserved amber for study. Their obsession led to the creation of a brand-new field of study in paleo-DNA.
If you are a travelling dinosaur enthusiast, this is the book for you!
Have you read any of the books on this list? Did I miss your favorite book? Let me know in the comments below!