Good Books (pleasure reading)?????????


I am not much of a reader, but would like to start reading some more. I am looking for some good books to read about paddling treks / outdoor adventures etc…you know…like the kind that you might want to read (the kind my wife would have absolutely no interest in)!

I can’t really find anything like this. I know there are some books out there like this!

Can you make any recommendations…a recommended reading list for types like us?



A good start would be Its Not About the Bike…an account of Lance Armstrong’s battle with cancer and his triumphant return to cycling. Very inspirational!

Chris Duff

– Last Updated: Aug-01-05 1:04 AM EST –

On Celtic Tides
Southern Exposure

The first is paddling around Ireland solo. The second paddling around the southern island of New Zealand.

The Brendan Voyage by Tim Severin
These guys built a medival boat from oxhides and proved Irish Monks really could have sailed to the new world long before the Vikings.

Down the Colorado Maj. John W. Powell
The story of the exploration of the Green and Colorado rivers and first recorded running of the Rivers by non indians including the Grand Canyon.

Blue Latitudes ---- Kind of a re-exploration of the explorations of Captain Cook

Two Years Before the Mast C. Dana. The first hand account of sailing to California ~ 1835, and working gathering hides and exploring along the california coast.

Sea Kayaker Deep Trouble
It’s about sea kayaking accidents.

Unduanted Courage
by Stephen Ambrose. About 300 pages and if you like adventure stories, it will be hard to put down.

Historical about the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Could be used as a college text in my opinion. Most of the stuff in the book is based on the dairies of the members of the Corps of Discovery. Fascinating read regarding the expedition planning, logistics, supply management, moral, relationships with the native indians, etc. during the expedition.

The stuff these guys did absolutely amazes me. The fact that they only lost one member in nearly 3 years in the wilderness, blows my mind. And the guy who did, they postulate now, was due to a burst appendix.

I doubt, even with the technology we have now, the L & C expedition could be easily achieved.


All My Rivers Are Gone
by Katie Lee. She was an actress/folk singer/author who fell in with some of the early boatmen on the Colorado, and made 16 descents before Glen Canyon was flooded to become Lake G.D. Powell. She is now working to have the dam decommissioned & the lake drained.


Currently reading
"Over the Edge of the World-Magellan’s Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe"

by Laurence Bergreen

The title is self-explanatory.

I also agree with Kheyashunka- Anything by Sigurd Olson is great.

River Horse by William Least Heat-Moon
Another interesting book, published in 1999, from the author of the classic Blue Highways, chronicling the author’s journey mainly by water in a 22-foot C-Dory (and, sometimes, a canoe) across the continental US beginning in NY harbor and ending in the Pacific Ocean just off of Astoria Oregon. Great reading whether you’re into boats or not.

Threading The Currents

Threading the Currents; a paddlers passion for water

Alan S Kesselheim. Island Press, Shearwater Books, ISBN 1-55963-562-2

An anthology of 25 years of paddling, with highlights from his favourite trips with family and friends. Chronological stories of progression and a passion for wilderness, culminating in family trips with his wife and three children.

I have four recommendations.
Birthplace of the Winds: Adventuring in Alaska’s Islands of Fire and Ice by Jon Bowermaster,

2000, Adventure Press. Some interesting dynamics among the men as they progress on their journey.

Arctic Crossing: A Journey Through the Northwest Passage and Inuit Culture by Jonathan Waterman,

2001, Alfred A Knopf.

The Last Place on Earth by Roland Huntford, 1985,

Atheneum. A history and comparison of Amundsen’s and Scott’s race to be the first to reach the South Pole.

Mountain Time by Paul Schullery, 1984, Simon and Schuster, Inc. The author was a ranger and historian at Yellowstone. This book is a mixture of well-told stories and essays about wilderness and how people react to being in the wilderness and Yellowstone.

I kinda liked
Keep Australia on Your Left, Eric Schiller’s account of trying to paddle a Klepper tandem around Australia. It’s more a how-not-to than a how-to and sometimes a frustrating read, but interesting nonetheless. I also second the recommendation of Chris Duff’s books.

Pass on Least Heat Moon
Maybe I’m turned off on an indian-wanna-be who tries to cash in on his ~1/16th indian heritage and write under a pseudonymn evoking something he is not. Maybe it was that I had visited many of the places he describes and view his descriptions as phony. I thought his books were mostly affectation. I think this guy is highly over-rated, but then he is widely respected as an author and I can’t even spell.

I am facinated by stories of folks who have survived against seemingly insurmoutable odds. The following four recommendations depict stories of survival that defy reason.

  • Endurance: Shackelton’s Incredible Voyage - Alfred Lansing
  • Touching The Void - Joe Simpson
  • Between a Rock and a Hard Place - Aron Ralston
  • The Climb: Tragic Ambition on Everest - Anatoli Bourkeev

A Must Read
This compilation of accounts of actual incidents is an absolute must for anyone venturing out in a kayak.

Pecked to Death by Ducks
by Tim Cahill… an assortment of Travel writings. I kinda like the travle writings of Paul Theroux… Happy Isles of Oceania, Pillars of Hercules, Riding the Iron Rooster. He can be an asshole… just like me.

I second Keep Aus. on Your Left

– Last Updated: Aug-02-05 9:16 AM EST –

At times it reads like a Klepper ad, but it is a generally good read about how an anal-retentive American and his complete opposite decide to circumnavigate Australia in a kayak.

I'm a sucker for expedition books, and here are a few I've read:

Hell or High Water, by Peter Heller : about the first descent of the Tsangpo.

At the Mercy of the River, by Peter Stark : about the first descent of the Legenda.

The Heart of the World, by Ian Baker : about Baker's travels into Tibet.

The Shadow of Kilimanjaro, by Rick Ridgeway : about Ridgeway's trek from Kilimanjaro to the sea, across the Tsavo.

There's also a book about the first descent of the Amazon from source to sea, but I can't recall the title right now. It's a great story of how the team writer ends up becoming one of the two who finally make it to the sea under their own power.

Last, but not least, there is Edward Abbey's The Monkeywrench Gang, not an expedition or paddling book, and certainly iconoclastic and misogynistic, but great nonetheless.

In the Wake of the Jomon
by Jon Turk. It’s about his three thousand mile North Pacific kayak crossing from Japan to Alaska to replicate the route of the ancient Jomon people. Terrific read! I also enjoyed his book, Cold Oceans.

i liked …
Cruelest Journey by Kira Silak, To Timbuktu by Mark Jenkins, and Running the Amazon by Joe Kane.


– Last Updated: Aug-01-05 10:18 PM EST –

1. "indian creek chronicles" by pete fromm....true story about college student living on his own in wild's of idaho.
2. "far appalachia" by noah adams
3."the dangerous river" by r.m. patterson
4. "the river why" by david duncan
5. "sources of the river" by nisbet
6. "a walk in the woods" by bryson
7. "survival of the bark canoe" by john mcphee

go to and look these books up to learn more...good reads!

Paul Theroux
Misogynist or misanthrope? (Occasional topic of discussion around our house.)