Books on Wilderness, Wild, and Walks in the Woods

A few books on my shelf, books that make me want to go outdoors. Mostly memoir, all non-fiction. American wilderness, less traveled roads, wide open fields and miracles of nature. Breaking out of the box, embracing solitude, and seeing more.

Outdoor and Wilderness Memoirs and Nonfiction #wild #walkinthewoods


Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard
“It has always been a happy thought to me that the creek runs on all night, new every minute, whether I wish it or know it or care, as a closed book on a shelf continues to whisper to itself its own inexhaustible tale. So many things have been shown so to me on these banks, so much light has illumined me by reflection here where the water comes down, that I can hardly believe that this grace never flags, that the pouring from ever-renewable sources is endless, impartial, and free.”

Drinking in the Rain by  Alix Kates Shulman
“But now I find that solitude, far from being the price, is turning out to be the prize. Solitude its own reward! Instead of making me anxious, it seems to be sweeping away my anxieties, opening up possibilities, and as I walk from cabin to rocks to beach to cove to outhouse and shed and back again, I feel a composure I’ve never found before. At night I fall into bed weary instead of tense. My fingernails, bitten since childhood, are growing long.”

Zoro’s Field: My Life in the Appalachian Woods by Thomas Raine Crowe
“Here in this solitude I am granted indulgences that are rarely, if ever, offered to those in the outside world: lying int he grass on the south side of the garden like a sleepy old dog, soaking up the afternoon rays of the sun, daydreaming, dashing clothes less through the woods to the outhouse in the morning – soles flying over the frost to keep the feet from freezing: sitting for long periods of times (maybe even hours) in the middle of a workday watching an anthill or a hive of wild bees; and, of course, talking to oneself.”

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
“But I got a great deal else from the experience. I learned to pitch a tent and sleep beneath the stars. For a brief, proud period I was slender and fit. I gained a profound respect for the wilderness and nature and the benign dark power of woods. I understand now, in a way I never did before, the colossal scale of the world. I found patience and fortitude that I didn’t know I had. I discovered an America that millions of people scarcely know exists. I made a friend. I came home.”

Drifting into Darien by Janisse Ray
“When I am dying, reevaluating my life, I would like to remember only these moments, those in which no clocks are ticking, in which I am aware of my excruciating and increasing vulnerability, in which I am so grateful for my lot in life that I could fall prone to the ground, overwhelmed with gratitude, moment by moment by moment. My life has been saved in moments.”

Dakota by Kathleen Norris
“For me, walking in a hard Dakota wind can be like staring at the ocean: humbled before its immensity, I also have a sense of being at home on this planet, my blood so like the sea in chemical composition, my every cell partaking of air. I live about as far from the sea as is possible in North America, yet I walk in a turbulent ocean. Maybe that child was right when he told me that the world is upside-down here, and this is where angels drown.”

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
“The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. If you want to get more out of life, you must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life that will at first appear to you to be crazy. But once you become accustomed to such a life you will see its full meaning and its incredible beauty.”

The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert
“People say that I don’t live in a real world, but it’s modern Americans who live in a fake world, because they have stepped outside the natural circle of life. Do people live in circles today? No. They live in boxes. They wake up every morning in a box of their bedrooms because a box next to them started making beeping noises to tell them it was time to get up. They eat their breakfast out of a box and then they throw that box away into another box. Then they leave the box where they live and get into another box with wheels and drive to work, which is just another big box broken into little cubicle boxes where a bunch of people spend their days sitting and staring at the computer boxes in front of them. When the day is over, everyone gets into the box with wheels again and goes home to the house boxes and spends the evening staring at the television boxes for entertainment. They get their music from a box, they get their food from a box, they keep their clothing in a box, they live their lives in a box. Break out of the box! This not the way humanity lived for thousands of years.” 

A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean
“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.  I am haunted by waters.” 

Wild by Cheryl Strayed
“I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me.”

Walden by Henry David Thoreau
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”

Faithful Travelers by James Dodson
“So much of our lives is spent waiting – for someone to finish a job or make a decision, for something to begin or end, a season to come or go, someone to be born or pass away. My truck was dead but a stranger assured me it would be reborn. The summer was over and school was beginning. The fish weren’t biting but the even gins had a hint of autumn’s coming refreshment in them. Sitting on the edge of my bed at the Hinton Motel, at loose ends, wondering when and if we’d ever get rolling again,, I picked up Maggie’s Magic Eightball from her Medicine Bag, gave it a shake, and consulted it for an answer.”

Blue Highways by William Heat Least Moon
“A car whipped past, the driver eating and a passenger clicking a camera. Moving without going anywhere, taking a trip instead of making one. I laughed at the absurdity of the photographs and then realized I, too, was rolling effortlessly along, turning the windshield into a movie screen in which I, the viewer, did the moving while the subject held still. That was the temptation of the American highway, of the American vacation (from the Latin vacare, “to be empty”).” 

Recent Good Reads

I’ve talked about how much I love non-fiction and memoirs….I thought I’d start sharing what I’ve been reading. And recommendations are always welcomed!

Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist
Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist
A friend sent me these books by Shauna Niequist. I love every essay…..I felt like Shauna was writing down things that were in my head!  Both are beautiful collections of stories about spiritual life and navigating through this life…..

I’ve learned the hard way that change is one of God’s greatest gifts, and most useful tools. Change can push us, pull us, rebuke and remake us. It can show us who we’ve become, in the worst ways, and also in the best ways. I’ve learned that it’s not something to run away from, as though we could, and that in many cases, change is a function of God’s graciousness, not life’s cruelty. -Shauna Niequist

Cold Tangerines and Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist via

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