6 books that make you want to play outside in the US’ west and Alaska

I love to read and I love outdoor adventures and I love to read about outdoor adventures. So with the weather being all grey and rainy this weekend I put together a reading list to get your wanderlust going and make you want to head for the Western USA and Alaska immediately.

1. Art Davidson:  Minus 148

Weirdly enough what always makes me enjoy a cold nights camp much more is reading about folks whose outdoor situation is way worse. And it can’t get much worse than in the epic tale of “Minus 148”: The true story of the first Mount Denali winter expedition, that has gone very, very wrong with three guys ending up sitting, or rather lying, out a snowstorm in a tiny ice cave for days with no food, no water and basically no equipment. Superintense and scary yet at the same time told by Art Davidson, one of the three guys, in such a refreshingly blunt and honest way, that it is also often very, very funny and inspiring.

2. T.C. Boyle: Drop City

My first T.C. Boyle and boy, did I enjoy this book: Hippie commune from California decideds to move the whole camp to Alaska, and live off the fat of the land, setting up their new camp just next to a true Alaskan homesteader couple. What can go wrong will go wrong. Obviously. Superimaginative, superrich in detail, supertragic, superfunny.

3. Edward Abbey: Desert Solitaire

If you ever wondered what living for a season in the desert feels like, read Edward Abbeys account of his one year work as a ranger in Arches Nationalpark. From befriending snakes to getting lost in river canyons to chasing runaway horses to dealing with tourists, Desert Solitaire has so many stories to tell, so many memories to share and so many dreams to be evoked. Beautifully written, very insightful, very politically critical and scarily enough highly relevant today still. I only just read it, but immediately added it to the list of my very favourite books ever read.

4. Jon Krakauer: Into the Wild

Who hasn’t dreamed just once of just letting everything behind and heading out into the wild. Alex Supertramp did just that and tried to live off the land up in the Alaskan wilderness. Journalist Jon Krakauer protocols his journey through the US all the way up to Alaska and tries to find out what lead to the tragic end of Alex dream of living in the wilderness. A little less melancholy and dreamy than the movie, and of course minus the great soundtrack, but nonetheless a catching read.

5. Jack Keruac: On the Road

A classic, that I needed a second start with, but that I now loved from cover to cover. Will make you want to get into a car and just start driving, destination unknown. Will also make you want to drink a lot and smoke a lot and listen to even more Rock N Roll than you already listen to.

6. Cheryl Strayed: Wild

A women takes upon the Pacific Crest Trail to overcome her mothers death and her drug addiction. Funny, touching, inspiring. The book to read if you a) want to or already do travel or hike on your own, b) want to revel in your love for the Sierras a little more or c) dream of hiking the PCT and need a little nudge of encouragement.

There is still a lot to read and add to the list. Also I just realise that there is only one female author on the list. Will have to find more and write about them sometime 🙂  How about you? Which books do you recommend as outdoor-westernusa-travel-must-reads? I would love to read your recommendations in the comments below!

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