Anyone who knows me KNOWS that I am a book fiend, and my favourite type of books, fiction or non, are ADVENTURE stories. Books about epic journeys, weird upbringings, living in nature, or simply unconventional lifestyles.
Books are my biggest love, and adventure stories are an amazing way to get inspired and see yourself in others. Not everyone who lives a crazy life starts out as an athlete, a confident person, or naturally adventurous. The most inspiring people to me are the ones who do something amazing or scary, even if they have trepidations or doubts – they push forward because they feel called to do something with their lives. You can, as well. Read on and get inspired!
Vali Myers: A Memoir– Gianni Menichetti
This woman is my biggest inspiration. An artist I have written about before, she lived a wild and crazy life. Originally from Australia, she saved her money and moved to Paris, lived on the streets, became an opium addict and moved to Italy to get off drugs, living as a recluse for 40 years with a menagerie of animals and her young lover, while traveling to NYC to sell her art, eventually settling back in Australia before her death. Her home, lover, and animals are still in Italy, and he is the author of this awesome biography. Highly recommended.
Four Corners– Kira Salak
This woman is a total badass. She became the first woman to traverse Papua New Guinea solo, by boat and foot, a wild land that is one of the last untouched places on earth. She also has an awesome article she wrote for National Geographic about her ayahuasca experience and it’s effect on her depression. Everything I read by her screams of bravery and passion for existence.
Tracks – Robyn Davidson
One of my VERY favourite books, and also now a beautiful movie! In the 70s this young lady decided she wanted to cross the Australian desert with her dog and camels, which she trains herself over a period of 2 years. Beautifully told and inspiring, HIGHLY recommended!
On Foot Through Africa– Ffyona Campbell
Ffyona was the first woman to walk around the world. Though her journey had controversy due to skipping one part during a pregnancy, she went back to complete it later on. Of her 3 books, this one was my favourite. She spent 2 years walking from the south to north of Africa.
Rowing the Atlantic – Roz Savage
Roz is a powerhouse, and like Robyn Davidson, knew that a seemingly “ordinary” person can do extraordinary things. Roz became an ocean rower simply because she wrote out her perceived obituary and compared it to one she would have preferred. This led to her being the first and only woman to row across all 3 oceans. Totally epic.
Beyond the Horizon – Colin Angus
Colin, who lives in the same city as me, departed on a 2 year trip to circumnavigate the globe by human power alone. By bike, foot, and rowboat, he began in Canada, rowed to Russia, biked across Siberia and Europe, separating from his travel partner and then completing the journey with his fiance, rowing across the Atlantic through two hurricanes and a squall, then biking from Costa Rica back to Canada. AMAZING!
Kite Strings of the Southern Cross – Laurie Gough (Also known as Island of the Human Heart).
An incredibly beautiful travelogue of a woman in Fiji, plus chapters of her other travels. One of the best travel books I’ve ever read, along with her other, which I loved just as much, Kiss the Sunset Pig, in which she is searching for a cave she once lived in on the coast of California, recounting many other travels along the way.
Touch the Dragon: A Thai Journal– Karen Connelly (Also known as Dream of a Thousand L ives).
I read this book after going to Thailand, and found myself yearning to go back immediately. Karen’s teenage year living with a family in rural Thailand is exquisitely written, and I implore you to read it and everything else by her. She is a stunning writer.
Flaming Iguanas – Erika Lopez
An illustrated road novel about a girl named Tomato on her motorcycle. Can it get any better? I dunno. In fact, just thinking about it makes me want to read it again.
In Search of Captain Zero – Allan C. Weisbecker
Sell your house, grab your dog, load up your surfboards in your camper and take off in search of your lost friend. This memoir of a man in his late 40s is epic and true, and a testament that leaving it all behind to go after a pure and exciting adventure is what life is all about. Also recommended is the film Surfwise.
Atlas of the Human Heart – Ariel Gore
One of my favourite writers! This accounts her teenage travels to Asia and Europe, after dropping out of high school. Poetic, beautiful, and will make you wonder if you’ve really been living.
Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life – Ulli Lust
Probably one of the best books I’ve read this year, AND a graphic novel to boot. A massive tome detailing more teenage adventures of two crazy punk girls in the 80s, traveling and hitching through Italy, and all the horrific and wonderful things that happen. As soon as I read the description of this book I felt like it was meant for me. One of my very favourite comic memoirs.
Wild – Cheryl Strayed
This extremely popular memoir of a hike on the Pacific Crest Trail is gorgeous and tempting. Even though long hiking journeys I read about seem grueling, they are always so full of beauty that they tempt me out of the indoors and into the forest, where we really do belong. So many of the books I love begin with horrible circumstances, broken hearts, turmoil and sorrow, only to be satiated by wilderness. Strayed is a gorgeous writer.
A Walk in the Woods – Bill Bryson
This book made me laugh my ass off. Two men on the Appalachian trail – Bryson really knows how to craft a travel tale, and make it funny as well. Another book that got me interested in hiking.
That Oceanic Feeling – Fiona Capp
One of the books that inspired me deeply, this is a memoir of a lady who sets out to surf a tough surf break in her later 30s. She lived quite a drive away, and hadn’t surfed in many, many years, but was committed to her goal. A great reminder that it is not too late to start pursuing your passions.
Child of the Jungle – Sabine Kuegler (also known as Jungle Child).
OH, this book is just soul food for me. Reading about a childhood growing up in the jungles of New Guinea, how beautiful! Makes me swoon just thinking about it. It was also made into a movie which I also love and suggest you check out.
Into the Wild– Jon Krakauer
Probably one of the best known books on living in the wilderness, and with an unfortunate end, it is still a very inspiring and fascinating story. I love the movie even more.
The Sex Lives of Cannibals – J. Maarten Troost
This book was unbelievably funny. The writer and his wife went for two years to the tiny island country of Kiribati (heard of it? Likely not, but you won’t forget it after reading this). Seemingly paradise, the bad side soon reveals itself in glorious hilarity. Troost is a fantastic comedic writer, but he also makes you want to visit this beautiful place, despite it’s weird quirks. My favourite funny adventure travel book.
Chasing Waves – Amy Waeschle
A beautiful account of a female surfer’s first experience and how it leads to obsessive travel and pursuit of wave-riding. Very helpful in alleviating my major wanderlust and surf-lust, though it also made me yearn to get moving and get wet.
In addition to all of these books, I highly recommend reading the travel blogs of Katwise, which I devoured! Completely amazing stuff.