Once upon a time, I was an avid reader. As a child I read constantly, indoors, outdoors, on road trips between Washington and California, through meals, and probably while watching TV.
During college I worked in a library and then a book store, thinking that shelving and selling would bring me closer to my love (I was physically closer, but I had to talk to so many people between reading sessions – I couldn’t stay).
It may seem strange, during a month of outside-inspired posts, to dedicate time to books – doesn’t getting lost in a book result in less time outside? I guess that takes me to the reason I read in the first place. Sometimes there’s a degree of escapism, but ultimately my true reason for reading, is to try to make sense of the world around me. Here we are, seven billion humans, fumbling our way through life. Writers, through what seems like magical alchemy, are able to weave together the most fantastic descriptions of who we are, where we are, and perhaps why we’re here.
My outdoor-inspired book list is heavier on the fiction side. They’re not overtly “books about being outside”, but each contains elements that have inspired me to get outside, explore the world, or they’ve made me think more deeply about my own relationship to the world around me. The categorizing was fun, as categorizing always is!
Let’s start with the comics
I spent hours reading about the world travels of five ducks, a reporter, and a dog names Snowy. I’m not sure if it was Barks’ “Lost in the Andes” or TinTin’s “Prisoners of the Sun” that helped me decide to go to Ecuador during college. At any rate, they’ve stuck with me, and now I’m excited to be reading them to my kids.
- Donald Duck – Carl Barks (we had the hardcover compilation, that I read in our living room, whenever I could)
- The Adventures of TinTin – Herge
These are all so predictable, but I loved them, so here they are, no commentary necessary:
- Heidi – Johanna Spyri
- The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
- Little House on the Prairie – Laura Ingalls Wilder
- Anne of Green Gables – Lucy Maud Montgomery
- Beyond the Pawpaw Trees – Palmer Brown
Again, somewhat predictable, but at least I started to branch out of the kiddie chick lit section!
- The Baron in the Trees – Italo Calvino
- A Room with a View – E.M. Forster
- 100 Years of Solitude – Garcia Marquez
- On The Road – Jack Kerouac
- Ceremony – Leslie Marmon Silko
- Jitterbug Perfume – Tom Robbins
- Walden – Henry David Thoreau
- Essential Writings – Ralph Waldo Emerson
- The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
- The Sparrow – Mary Doria Russell
- The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver
- Watermelon Nights – Greg Sarris
- Hoot – Carl Hiassen
- The House of the Scorpion – Nancy Farmer
- Hatchet – Gary Paulsen
- Seedfolks – Paul Fleishmann
Present -day, on the night stand
Maybe the most random to date, but they’re ones that are at the top of my mind.
- The Reconstructionist – Nick Arvin
- The Atlas of Birds: Diversity, Behavior, and Conservation – Mike Unwin
- The Enchantress of Florence – Salman Rushdie
I feel like I should explain my reasoning on some of these choices, but on the other hand, maybe you’ll be inspired to pick up a few titles and figure out the natural world connections for yourself. I know there are hundreds of other choices that would make sense – what books are on your outdoor-inspired list?