June is the perfect time to start thinking about all the great adventures out there. Whether your version of adventure looks like a multi-day backpacking trip into the wilderness or a hike or bike ride on the trails near your home or just reading about them in the comfort of your Adirondack chair, these books will immerse you in the great outdoors.
Jornet has become one of the best known mountain runners in the world, but in addition to being a wildly talented runner, he’s also a gifted writer. The two-time National Geographic Adventurer of the Year has done more than “just” make it up Everest — he summited it twice in one week in 2018, without the help of bottled oxygen or ropes. In Above the Clouds, he shares the story of his record-breaking climbs of Mount Everest, and dives deep into the philosophical side of mountain running and what it means to have a real relationship with nature — even when nature seems to be fighting against you.
This comedic-yet-deep book shares the story of White’s sometimes-disastrous journey along the Pacific Crest Trail (the 2,650 mile trail popularized by the book Wild) with his girlfriend. Hikers and campers who want to test a relationship’s strength should know this trail will do just that. White isn’t just sharing his story, he’s tracing the steps of Warren Rogers, the first man to chart the whole trail in the 1930s during the Great Depression. If you think eating dehydrated camp meals and sleeping in a tent with your ultralight pad is tough, imagine carting a canvas tent and cans of beans for hundreds of miles through uncharted territory.
Jornet doesn’t just break records, he deeply respects those who’ve paved the way for him. Here, he pays homage to one man who’s records he surpassed in 2018, while Chilton tells the story of fell running legend Billy Bland. As gear gets better and information about trails and training becomes more dialed in, records set by the old guard, including Bland, drop quickly. But Bland’s life story is worth the read, and it’s a reminder that you don’t need to quit your job or buy the best gear to achieve greatness.
Swimmers will appreciate the story of grit, feminists will cheer for the plucky young heroine, and anyone craving adventure will not be able to put down this page-turning account of Trudy Ederle’s swim across the English Channel in 1926. This is a well-researched, deeply entertaining account of how the young teenager decided to swim across the Channel, became famous in the process, and then disappeared entirely. The book isn’t just about her accomplishment: It’s about what that accomplishment meant at a time when women were still considered the weaker sex — until women like Trudy came along to prove otherwise.
On the note of inspiring women, if you’ve often dreamt of running a marathon, or just running regularly, read Reborn on the Run and you’ll quickly find that you don’t need to be an athlete to become one. Catra Corbett was a young punk suffering from drug addiction, eating disorders, and a huge host of personal problems. A night in jail is the rock bottom she needs to pull herself out of her addiction and into a healthier life, starting with running. From there, she doesn’t just begin to exercise, she throws herself into it, and today, she is the first American woman to run over one hundred miles more than one hundred times, and she holds the fastest known double time for the 425-miles long John Muir Trail, completing it in twelve days, four hours, and fifty-seven minutes.
If you just need a dash of inspiration to kickstart your summer of sport, dig into this exciting anthology. Rather than one single story, this book contains dozens of the best pieces written about sports across all disciplines from the year. The stories are passionate, sometimes heart-breaking, beautifully written, and always inspirational. It’s a great read for those looking for small doses of motivation on a daily basis.
The Race Across America is considered to be one of the toughest bike races in the world. Since its inception, riders have died and been hospitalized in the process, and only a handful of people have ever finished the race. Yet many of the finishers return multiple times to test their mettle, riding their bikes straight across the country in a race of attrition. In this book, Amy Snyder follows several riders during the 2009 edition of the race, tracking their highs and lows until they finally make it to the finish line. If you love riding bikes, and get inspired by stories of grit and resilience, you’ll love this book.
For any 19-year-old woman, taking nearly six months to hike alone from Mexico to Canada along the Pacific Crest Trail is a huge undertaking. But for Matis, it was a way to reconnect and find herself again. In this book, she shares not only the hardships of the hike itself, but also the emotional catharsis that the trail provided. Trigger warning: Matis’ story begins with overcoming the trauma of being raped in college, and she shares this experience in a frank, open way. As she hikes the trail, she is not only able to come to terms with the assault, but she’s also able to open herself up to others once again.
If you thought pedaling home from work felt like a long bike ride, this memoir from former high-school geography teacher Rob Lilwall will remind you that even when the ride feels like a slog, it could be worse. His beautifully written recollections of riding for three-and-a-half-years to cover 30,000 miles from Siberia to England include stories from the foreboding jungles of Papua New Guinea, seeking shelter from an Australian cyclone, and riding through Afghanistan’s war-torn Hindu Kush. But it’s not just an action-adventure memoir, it’s also filled with philosophical musings and descriptions that are motivating beyond the bike.
Davis has conquered the 2,181-mile Appalachian Trail several times in her life. In her memoir, she recounts the 2011 journey to becoming the overall record holder on the Appalachian Trail, hiking an average of 47 miles per day for 46 days. But the book isn’t just a day-by-day account of her effort (though there are plenty of details in it that will help any hiker prep for a long adventure), Called Again is also about relationships, specifically hers with her husband Brew, and how the trail brought them closer together despite the solitude.