Every outdoor adventurer has that one book, maybe two, that kick-started their passion and desire for exploration. Maybe it was something by one of the usual suspects, like Laurie Lee, Patrick Leigh Fermor, Dervla Murphy or Jack Kerouac, or maybe it was something more recent.
We’ve certainly been spoilt in the last five years or so with the amount of good outdoor and adventure books out there. A host of great authors have popped up, from the wild adventurers like Alastair Humphreys and Anna McNuff to the philosophers like Robert Macfarlane and Robert Moor. It seems to be a real burgeoning field, and we’re super glad that it is.
And they keep on coming. We’ve pulled together a list of some of our favourite releases from the last year or so, the outdoor books that we think would make excellent gifts for a family member or friend. Who knows, one of these might inspire them to undertake their own epic adventure – and perhaps to write about it as well. So without further adieu, here are our top 10 best outdoor and adventure books of 2020.
The World Beneath Their Feet
Scott Ellsworth – John Murray Press, £21 (hardback)
While it took until 1953 for Everest to finally be summited, it was in the 1930s that the race was at its most tenacious. New York Times bestselling author Scott Ellsworth delves into the contest that raged between the various expedition teams from around the world, with elite climbers, local sherpas, millionaire businessmen and Nazi’s all racing to bring glory to their nations in a period when global war was on the horizon. If you liked Into Thin Air by John Krakauer then this is one for you.
The Salt Path
Raynor Winn – Penguin Books, £8.99
Things went from bad to worse for Raynor Winn when her husband became diagnosed with a serious illness only five days after they were both made homeless due to a bad investment. The course of action became immediately clear though: they would walk the length of the 630-mile South West Coast Path and plan out their future along the way.
Spirit Run: A 6000-Mile Marathon Through North America’s Stolen Land
Noé Alvarez – Catapult, £17.32
Alvarez, the son of Mexican immigrants living in Washington State, gives an account of his unbelievable run through North and Central America. Determined to escape a life destined for low-wage labour, he decided to chose a different course to that taken by his friends and family, joining a team of First Nation/Native Americans on a five month run from Alaska to Panama. This isn’t just another book about a long run though – there’s more to it than that. It’s a meaningful look at immigration in America and an analysis of our connection with the landscape.
The Land Beyond: On Foot Through the Middle East
Leon McCarron – Bloomsbury, £17.99 (hardback)
Leon McCarron recounts his journey on foot through Israel and Palestine, Jordan and the Sinai Peninsula, a tale that vividly portrays the diverse landscapes and proliferation of cultures within a region that’s all too often judged for its politics and not for its people.
The Way Home: Tales From A Life Without Technology
Mark Boyle – One World Publications, £16.99 (hardback)
What would life be like without access to the internet but to modern technology in general? Mark Boyle has all the answers for us here. The Way Home recounts his year spent completely off-grid; living alone in a cabin on a small plot of land in East Galway, growing his own food, sourcing water from a spring and writing by candlelight.