25 Armchair Adventure E-Books To Enjoy Without Leaving Home
If you’re like me, you could probably use a nice escape right about now—a tale that draws you in, transporting you to another time and place. Maybe someplace you dream of visiting someday, or an expedition that’s larger than life. While we’re all waiting to embark on our next adventures, here are 25 adventure e-books you can download right now.
Grandma Gatewood's Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail by Ben Montgomery
“Emma Gatewood was the first woman to hike the entire Appalachian Trail alone, as well as the first person—man or woman—to walk it twice and three times and she did it all after the age of 65. This is the first and only biography of Grandma Gatewood, as the reporters called her, who became a hiking celebrity in the 1950s and '60s. She appeared on TV with Groucho Marx and Art Linkletter, and on the pages of Sports Illustrated. The public attention she brought to the little-known footpath was unprecedented. Her vocal criticism of the lousy, difficult stretches led to bolstered maintenance, and very likely saved the trail from extinction.”
The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Through the Heart of the Grand Canyon By Kevin Fedarko
“In the spring of 1983, massive flooding along the length of the Colorado River confronted a team of engineers at the Glen Canyon Dam with an unprecedented emergency that may have resulted in the most catastrophic dam failure in history. In the midst of this crisis, the decision to launch a small wooden dory named ‘The Emerald Mile’ at the head of the Grand Canyon, just fifteen miles downstream from the Glen Canyon Dam, seemed not just odd, but downright suicidal.
The Emerald Mile, at one time slated to be destroyed, was rescued and brought back to life by Kenton Grua, the man at the oars, who intended to use this flood as a kind of hydraulic sling-shot. The goal was to nail the all-time record for the fastest boat ever propelled—by oar, by motor, or by the grace of God himself—down the entire length of the Colorado River from Lee’s Ferry to Lake Mead. Did he survive? Just barely.”
The Word for Woman Is Wilderness by Abi Andrews
“This is a new kind of nature writing — one that crosses fiction with science writing and puts gender politics at the center of the landscape.
Erin, a 19-year-old girl from middle England, is travelling to Alaska on a journey that takes her through Iceland, Greenland, and across Canada. She is making a documentary about how men are allowed to express this kind of individualism and personal freedom more than women are, based on masculinist ideas of survivalism and the shunning of society: the “Mountain Man.” She plans to culminate her journey with an experiment: living in a cabin in the Alaskan wilderness, a la Thoreau, to explore it from a feminist perspective.”
The Sun Is a Compass: A 4,000-Mile Journey into the Alaskan Wilds by Caroline Van Hemert
“During graduate school, as she conducted experiments on the peculiarly misshapen beaks of chickadees, ornithologist Caroline Van Hemert began to feel stifled in the isolated, sterile environment of the lab. Worried that she was losing her passion for the scientific research she once loved, she was compelled to experience wildness again, to be guided by the sounds of birds and to follow the trails of animals.
In March of 2012, she and her husband set off on a 4,000-mile wilderness journey from the Pacific rainforest to the Alaskan Arctic, traveling by rowboat, ski, foot, raft, and canoe. Together, they survived harrowing dangers while also experiencing incredible moments of joy and grace -- migrating birds silhouetted against the moon, the steamy breath of caribou, and the bond that comes from sharing such experiences.”
Paddling North by Audrey Sutherland
“In a tale remarkable for its quiet confidence and acute natural observation, the author of Paddling Hawaii begins with her decision, at age 60, to undertake a solo, summer-long voyage along the southeast coast of Alaska in an inflatable kayak. Paddling North is a compilation of Sutherland’s first two (of over 20) such annual trips and her day-by-day travels through the Inside Passage from Ketchikan to Skagway.”
Alone on the Wall by Alex Honnold
“On June 3rd, 2017, Alex Honnold became the first person to free solo Yosemite's El Capitan—to scale the wall without rope, a partner, or any protective gear—completing what was described as "the greatest feat of pure rock climbing in the history of the sport" (National Geographic) and "one of the great athletic feats of any kind, ever" (New York Times). Already one of the most famous adventure athletes in the world, Honnold has now been hailed as "the greatest climber of all time" (Vertical magazine).
Alone on the Wall recounts the most astonishing achievements of Honnold’s extraordinary life and career, brimming with lessons on living fearlessly, taking risks, and maintaining focus even in the face of extreme danger. Now Honnold tells, for the first time and in his own words, the story of his 3 hours and 56 minutes on the sheer face of El Cap.”
The Unlikely Thru-Hiker by Derick Lugo
“Derick Lugo had never been hiking. He certainly couldn't imagine going more than a day without manicuring his goatee. But with a job cut short and no immediate plans, this fixture of the New York comedy scene began to think about what he might do with months of free time. He had heard of the Appalachian Trail, but he had never seriously considered attempting to hike all 2,184.2 miles of it. Suddenly he found himself asking, Could he do it?
The Unlikely Thru-Hiker is the story of how a young black man from the city, unfamiliar with both the outdoors and thru-hiking culture, sets off with an extremely overweight pack and a willfully can-do attitude to conquer the infamous trail. What follows are lessons on preparation, humility, and nature's wild unpredictability. But this isn't a hard-nosed memoir of discouragement. What sets Lugo apart from the typical walk in the woods is his refusal to let any challenge squash his inner Pollyanna. Through it all, Lugo perseveres with humor, tenacity, and an unshakeable commitment to grooming―earning him the trail name "Mr. Fabulous"―that sees him from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Katahdin in Maine.”
Savage Summit by Jennifer Jordan
“Though not as tall as Everest, the "Savage Mountain" is far more dangerous. Located on the border of China and Pakistan, K2 has some of the harshest climbing conditions in the world. Ninety women have scaled Everest but of the six women who reached the summit of K2, three lost their lives on the way back down the mountain and two have since died on other climbs.”
Conquistadors of the Useless by Lionel Terray, translated by Geoffrey Sutton
“'I have given my whole life to the mountains. Born at the foot of the Alps, I have been a ski champion, a professional guide, an amateur of the greatest climbs in the Alps and a member of eight expeditions to the Andes and the Himalayas. If the word has any meaning at all, I am a mountaineer.' So Terray begins Conquistadors of the Useless- not with arrogance, but with typical commitment. One of the most colourful characters of the mountaineering world, his writing is true to his uncompromising and jubilant love for the mountains. Terray was one of the greatest alpinists of his time, and his autobiography is one of the finest and most important mountaineering books ever written.”
Honouring High Places: The Mountain Life of Junko Tabei by Junko Tabei and Helen Y. Rolfe
“Honouring High Places is a compelling collection of highlights from Junko Tabei’s stirring life that she considered important, inspiring and interesting to mountaineering culture. Until now, her works have been available only in Japanese, and RMB is honoured to be sharing these profound and moving stories with the English-speaking world for the first time.
The collection opens on Mount Everest, where the first all-women’s expedition is met with disaster but pushes on against all odds. The story then shifts to the early years of Tabei’s life and reflects on her countryside childhood as a frail girl with no talent for sport, and cultural expectations that ignored her passion for mountains.”
Dark Summit by Nick Heil
“On May 15, 2006, a young British climber named David Sharp lay dying near the top of Mount Everest while forty other climbers walked past him on their way to the summit. A week later, Lincoln Hall, a seasoned Australian climber, was left for dead near the same spot. Hall's death was reported around the world, but the next day he was found alive after spending the night on the upper mountain with no food and no shelter.
If David Sharp's death was shocking, it was hardly singular: despite unusually good weather, ten others died attempting to reach the summit that year. In this meticulous inquiry into what went wrong, Nick Heil tells the full story of the deadliest year on Everest since the infamous season of 1996.”
Classic Krakauer: "Mark Foo's Last Ride," "After the Fall," and Other Essays from the Vault by Jon Krakauer
“The gripping articles in Classic Krakauer, originally published in periodicals such as The New Yorker, Outside, and Smithsonian, display the singular investigative reporting that made Jon Krakauer famous—and show why he is considered a standard-bearer of modern journalism. Spanning an extraordinary range of subjects and locations, these articles take us from a horrifying avalanche on Mt. Everest to a volcano poised to obliterate a big chunk of greater Seattle at any moment; from a wilderness teen-therapy program run by apparent sadists to an otherwordly cave in New Mexico, studied by NASA to better understand Mars; from the notebook of one Fred Beckey, who catalogued the greatest unclimbed mountaineering routes on the planet, to the last days of legendary surfer Mark Foo.”
Coming into the Country by John McPhee
“Coming into the Country is an unforgettable account of Alaska and Alaskans. It is a rich tapestry of vivid characters, observed landscapes, and descriptive narrative, in three principal segments that deal, respectively, with a total wilderness, with urban Alaska, and with life in the remoteness of the bush.”
Alone On The Ice: The Greatest Survival Story in the History of Exploration by David Roberts
“On January 17, 1913, alone and near starvation, Douglas Mawson, leader of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, was hauling a sledge to get back to base camp. The dogs were gone. Now Mawson himself plunged through a snow bridge, dangling over an abyss by the sledge harness. A line of poetry gave him the will to haul himself back to the surface.
Mawson was sometimes reduced to crawling, and one night he discovered that the soles of his feet had completely detached from the flesh beneath. On February 8, when he staggered back to base, his features unrecognizably skeletal, the first teammate to reach him blurted out, "Which one are you?" This thrilling and almost unbelievable account establishes Mawson in his rightful place as one of the greatest polar explorers and expedition leaders. It is illustrated by a trove of Frank Hurley’s famous Antarctic photographs, many never before published in the United States.”
Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout by Philip Connors
“Phillip Connors is a major new voice in American nonfiction, and his remarkable debut, Fire Season, is destined to become a modern classic. An absorbing chronicle of the days and nights of one of the last fire lookouts in the American West, Fire Season is a marvel of a book, as rugged and soulful as Matthew Crawford’s bestselling Shop Class as Soulcraft, and it immediately places Connors in the august company of Edward Abbey, Annie Dillard, Aldo Leopold, Barry Lopez, and others in the respected fraternity of hard-boiled nature writers.”
Being Caribou: Five Months on Foot with an Arctic Herd by Karsten Heuer
“What begins as a wildlife research project becomes much more as the author and his wife learn to hear the earth, pay attention to their dreams and slowly change, beyond their expectations, into being caribou. ·Wildlife biologist Karsten Heuer and filmmaker Leanne Allison spend five months migrating on foot with more than 100,000 caribou.”
The Tower: A Chronicle of Climbing and Controversy on Cerro Torre By Kelly Cordes
“Patagonia’s Cerro Torre, considered by many the most beautiful peak in the world, draws the finest and most devoted technical alpinists to its climbing challenges. But controversy has swirled around this ice-capped peak since Cesare Maestri claimed first ascent in 1959. Since then a debate has raged, with world-class climbers attempting to retrace his route but finding only contradictions. This chronicle of hubris, heroism, controversies and epic journeys offers a glimpse into the human condition, and why some pursue extreme endeavors that at face value have no worth.”
Moods of Future Joys by Alastair Humphreys
“Alastair Humphreys’ around-the-world journey of 46,000 miles was an old-fashioned adventure: long, lonely, low-budget, and spontaneous. Cycling across five continents and sailing over the oceans, his ride took four years to complete, on a tiny budget of hoarded student loans. Here is the story of the first remarkable stage of the expedition. Just two weeks into the ride the September 11th attacks changed everything. All Humphreys’ plans went out the window and, instead of riding towards Australia, he suddenly found himself pedaling through the Middle East and Africa and on toward Cape Town. This book recounts an epic journey that succeeded through Humphreys’ trust in the kindness of strangers, at a time where the interactions of our global community are more confused and troubled than ever.”
North by Scott Jurek
“Scott Jurek is one of the world's best known and most beloved ultrarunners. Renowned for his remarkable endurance and speed, accomplished on a vegan diet, he's finished first in nearly all of ultrarunning's elite events over the course of his career. But after two decades of racing, training, speaking, and touring, Jurek felt an urgent need to discover something new about himself. He embarked on a wholly unique challenge, one that would force him to grow as a person and as an athlete: breaking the speed record for the Appalachian Trail.
North is the story of the 2,189-mile journey that nearly shattered him. With his wife, Jenny, friends, and the kindness of strangers supporting him, Jurek ran, hiked, and stumbled his way north, one white blaze at a time. A stunning narrative of perseverance and personal transformation, North is a portrait of a man stripped bare on the most demanding and transcendent effort of his life. It will inspire runners and non-runners alike to keep striving for their personal best.”
Lands of Lost Borders: A Journey on the Silk Road by Kate Harris
“As a teenager, Kate Harris realized that the career she craved—to be an explorer, equal parts swashbuckler and metaphysician—had gone extinct. From what she could tell of the world from small-town Ontario, the likes of Marco Polo and Magellan had mapped the whole earth; there was nothing left to be discovered. Looking beyond this planet, she decided to become a scientist and go to Mars.
In between studying at Oxford and MIT, Harris set off by bicycle down the fabled Silk Road with her childhood friend Mel. Pedaling mile upon mile in some of the remotest places on earth, she realized that an explorer, in any day and age, is the kind of person who refuses to live between the lines. Forget charting maps, naming peaks: what she yearned for was the feeling of soaring completely out of bounds. The farther she traveled, the closer she came to a world as wild as she felt within.”
Spirit Run: A 6,000-Mile Marathon Through North America's Stolen Land by Noé Álvarez
“Growing up in Yakima, Washington, Noé Álvarez worked at an apple-packing plant alongside his mother, who “slouched over a conveyor belt of fruit, shoulder to shoulder with mothers conditioned to believe this was all they could do with their lives.” A university scholarship offered escape, but as a first-generation Latino college-goer, Álvarez struggled to fit in.
At nineteen, he learned about a Native American/First Nations movement called the Peace and Dignity Journeys, epic marathons meant to renew cultural connections across North America. He dropped out of school and joined a group of Dené, Secwépemc, Gitxsan, Dakelh, Apache, Tohono O’odham, Seri, Purépecha, and Maya runners, all fleeing difficult beginnings. Telling their stories alongside his own, Álvarez writes about a four-month-long journey from Canada to Guatemala that pushed him to his limits. He writes not only of overcoming hunger, thirst, and fear—dangers included stone-throwing motorists and a mountain lion—but also of asserting Indigenous and working-class humanity in a capitalist society where oil extraction, deforestation, and substance abuse wreck communities. Álvarez forges a new relationship with the land, and with the act of running, carrying with him the knowledge of his parents’ migration, and—against all odds in a society that exploits his body and rejects his spirit—the dream of a liberated future.”
Welcome To The Goddam Ice Cube by Blair Braverman
“By the time Blair Braverman was eighteen, she had left her home in California, moved to arctic Norway to learn to drive sled dogs, and found work as a tour guide on a glacier in Alaska. Determined to carve out a life as a “tough girl”—a young woman who confronts danger without apology—she slowly developed the strength and resilience the landscape demanded of her.
By turns funny and sobering, bold and tender, Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube brilliantly recounts Braverman’s adventures in Norway and Alaska. Settling into her new surroundings, Braverman was often terrified that she would lose control of her dog team and crash her sled, or be attacked by a polar bear, or get lost on the tundra. Above all, she worried that, unlike the other, gutsier people alongside her, she wasn’t cut out for life on the frontier. But no matter how out of place she felt, one thing was clear: she was hooked on the North. On the brink of adulthood, Braverman was determined to prove that her fears did not define her—and so she resolved to embrace the wilderness and make it her own.”
The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel
“In 1986, a shy and intelligent twenty-year-old named Christopher Knight left his home in Massachusetts, drove to Maine, and disappeared into the forest. He would not have a conversation with another human being until nearly three decades later, when he was arrested for stealing food. Living in a tent even through brutal winters, he had survived by his wits and courage, developing ingenious ways to store edibles and water, and to avoid freezing to death. He broke into nearby cottages for food, clothing, reading material, and other provisions, taking only what he needed but terrifying a community never able to solve the mysterious burglaries. Based on extensive interviews with Knight himself, this is a vividly detailed account of his secluded life—why did he leave? what did he learn?—as well as the challenges he has faced since returning to the world. It is a gripping story of survival that asks fundamental questions about solitude, community, and what makes a good life, and a deeply moving portrait of a man who was determined to live his own way, and succeeded.”
Tracks: One Woman's Journey Across 1,700 Miles of Australian Outback by Robyn Davidson
“For Robyn Davidson, one of these moments comes at age twenty-seven in Alice Springs, a dodgy town at the frontier of the vast Australian desert. Davidson is intent on walking the 1,700 miles of desolate landscape between Alice Springs and the Indian Ocean, a personal pilgrimage with her dog—and four camels. Tracks is the beautifully written, compelling true story of the author’s journey and the love/hate relationships she develops along the way: with the Red Centre of Australia; with aboriginal culture; with a handsome photographer; and especially with her lovable and cranky camels, Bub, Dookie, Goliath, and Zeleika.”
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
“Buck, a sturdy crossbreed canine (half St. Bernard, half Shepard), is a dog born to luxury and raised in a sheltered Californian home. But then he is kidnapped and sold to be a sled dog in the harsh and frozen Yukon Territory. Passed from master to master, Buck embarks on an extraordinary journey, proving his unbreakable spirit...
First published in 1903, The Call of the Wild is regarded as Jack London’s masterpiece. Based on London’s experiences as a gold prospector in the Canadian wilderness and his ideas about nature and the struggle for existence, The Call of the Wild is a tale about unbreakable spirit and the fight for survival in the frozen Alaskan Klondike.”