Wild – Cheryl Strayed
“Wild” is the memoir of a women’s journey to find herself during a spontaneous hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. While many serious hikers deride her lack of preparation for the trail, this book is more about her personal journey than the hike itself. Strayed’s ability to connect with readers is unlike any author I have read.You will cry with her; you will laugh with her; and ultimately you will begin to understand her.
Into the Wild – John Krakauer
“Move around, be nomadic. Make each day a new horizon.” This is the philosophy of Chris McCandless, self dubbed Alex Supertramp, who forsook everyday society to journey freely throughout North America. In “Into the Wild” Krakauer pieces together what he can of McCandless’ journey offering readers a haunting glimpse into the mind of a true free spirit.
A Walk in the Woods – Bill Bryson
With wit and often self-deprecating humor Bryson recounts his attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail. Is this an authoritative work on the dos and don’ts of the AT? No. Bryson is an inexperienced hiker who is knowingly in way over his head. However, it is a hilarious read that has significantly — and controversially — increased traffic on the trail.
Into Thin Air – John Krakauer
This book sat on my shelf for several years before I finally picked it up. Later that day when I finally set it down I was emotionally drained. Krakauer’s writing was raw and relentless, giving a detailed account of disaster on the slopes of the world’s highest mountain.
Where the Wild Things Were – William Stolzenburg
“Where the Wild Things Were” is the book that got me into scientific writing. The lyrical quality of Stolzenburg’s writing hides the density of information imparted in each chapter. This book describes the loss of apex predators in North America and the ecological cascade that has resulted.
Rat Island – William Stolzenburg
Stolzenburg’s second book is just as well written and even more controversial than “Where the Wild Things Were”. It details the never ending war between scientists and invasive species for control of vulnerable island ecosystems. Stolzenburg cheers the success of the biologists’ eradication of rats, goats and weasels, writing only one perfunctory chapter on the questionable ethics of the lethal control measures used. Nonetheless, even die-hard animal rights activists, will find themselves anxiously turning pages, yearning for the salvation of the islands’ imperiled populations.
The Wild Trees – Richard Preston
Preston’s skill is taking a subject that is nearly impossible to visualize, and describing it so anybody can understand. In “The Wild Trees” Preston brings the world’s largest trees, redwoods, into reader’s living rooms. The book focuses on a group of tree enthusiasts-turned-scientists who’s mission is to find and map out the world’s tallest trees.
The World Without Us – Alan Weisman
Weisman dares to pose the question, what would happen if humanity suddenly ceased to exist? Unsurprisingly, it goes on just fine with out us. Unlike the others in this list, this book is not a continuous story. Instead, each chapter covers a different aspect of humanity’s disappearance. The intriguing premise and thoroughly researched content make this book impossible to put down.
Waiting on the Shelf
A Sand County Almanac – Aldo Leopold
The Lost City of Z – David Grann
Cry of the Kalahari – Mark and Delia Owens
Letters to a Young Scientist – Edward O. Wilson
The Beak of the Finch – Jonathan Weiner
Gifts of the Crow – John Marzluff