We talk a lot about gear, about boots, cameras, knives, and tents but too little about books.  All the great adventurers I know are great readers. They travel far in their minds as well as across continents.  As well, they gain inspiration, ideas, and, indeed, advice and knowledge on gear and preparation from other travelers, even those from previous centuries.  And a book or two should be part of your gear, something to fill time while waiting at dusty bus stations or when you’re at your hotel in a city too dangerous to wander out at night or when you simply need a few minutes or hours of quiet.  I love e-readers but they run on batteries. A good paperback is always ready and when you are done you can pass it on to another traveler or often trade it for a new book in a café or hostel. 

Here are some of my personal favorites that will take you from the Himalayas to Africa, California to Spain, and a lot of places in between.  Keep reading. Keep exploring.


1:  “Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton” by Edward Rice

2:  “I Married Adventure” by Osa Johnson

3: “Seven Years in Tibet” by Heinrich Harrer

4: “Shutterbabe” by Deborah Copaken Kogan

5:  “Death in the Afternoon” by Ernest Hemingway

6:  “The Heart of the World : A Journey to The Last Secret Place” by Ian Baker

7: “Henry the Explorer” by Mark Taylor, Illustrated by Graham Booth

8: “The Dharma Bums” by Jack Kerouac

9: The Lost Explorer: Finding Mallory on Mount Everest” by Conrad Anker and David Roberts

10: “Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest” by Wade Davis. FP


  1. I’ve read a couple on the list but lots of inspiration there! I would add “Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know” by Sir Ranulph Fiennes. A biography that reads like a boy’s own adventure story from his time in the British Army, being kicked out of the SAS, offered the role of James Bond to climbing mountains and running marathons. Both exciting and touching at times. The last true adventurer.

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