Holiday Gift: A Brief Book Guide for Adventure, Environment, Poetry, and Art

For those who are looking for a book to gift to adventurous, artsy, environmentally curious friends (or to hint at as a gift for oneself), here is a short and sweet list of titles we’d recommend. All titles can be found on Amazon unless we provide a specific link to elsewhere, and keep in mind that prices may have changed since the publication of this list. Enjoy!


Environmental Journey & Philosophy

  •  The Abstract Wild by Jack Turner. In this book from 1996, Turner contemplates the modern context for what is actually “wild,” a word that owes much of its philosophy to the Thoreauvian definition, “to be self-willed.” He analyzes National Parks, Wilderness areas, and BLM land and the ways they have inevitably abstracted this notion of being truly wild. A quote from the introduction: “The antagonists in my story are not the usual fall guys—industrialists, ranchers, tourists, or loggers—though they personify the problem. No, my enemies are abstractions, abstractions that are rendering even the wild abstract. These include (1) our diminished personal experience of nature, the concomitant devaluation of that experience, and the attendant rise in mediated experience; (2) our preference for artifice, copy, simulation, and surrogate, for the engineered and the managed instead of the natural; … (6) our increasing ignorance of what we have lost in sacrificing our several-million-year-old intimacy with the natural world.” $19.95 new on Amazon.
  • Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters by Pulitzer Prize-winning Annie Dillard. In this book she “explores the world of natural facts and human meanings,” in the way that Dillard is famous for: vivid, purposeful descriptions and metaphysical lyricism. While she is ultimately in search for God in the nature that surrounds her, her perception and definitions of God transcend the status-quo of doctrine and make for a very existential philosophy: “Geography is the key, the crucial accident of birth. A piece of protein could be a snail, a sea lion, or a systems analyst, but it had to start somewhere. This is not science; it is merely metaphor. And the landscape in which the protein ‘starts’ shapes its end as surely as bowls shape water.” $14.99 new on Amazon.
  • Keep the River on Your Right by Tobias Schneebaum. Published in 1969, this nonfiction journal, more or less, is the account of Brooklyn-born painter Schneebaum’s journey to Peru on a Fulbright fellowship in 1955: “I was away from civilization for such a long time that the U.S. Embassy concluded that I had been killed, and there were announcements in the Peruvian newspapers and on the radio to that effect.” From an impoverished Mission deep in the jungle to living among a tribe that practiced cannibalism, Schneebaum’s accounts are a strange and morbid look into places Western society has no true perception of. A place that Westerners just have no foundation for judgement. While his time at the mission became somewhat tedious to read, it was worthwhile to get to the “shaving and painting [of] his body, hunting with Stone Age weapons, sleeping with his brother warriors in the warmth of the body-pile…” $10.47 new on Amazon.


Inspiring Adventure For Children

  •  Squeak Goes Climbing in Yosemite National Park by D Scott Borden, illustrated by Mallory Logan. A portion of proceeds go to the ACCESS FUND in this tale of Squeak the mouse: “Squeak lives a normal mousey life in her meadow home until she stumbles into a climber’s haul bag and is dragged up El Capitan. Scared but not alone, other animals try to console her as she struggles to stay positive on her three-day journey. All of a sudden the climbers are in trouble and need help. Will Squeak face her fears of climbing and save the day? Teach your child about climbing, Yosemite National Park’s natural history and overcoming fears to achieve anything with this children’s book.” Age 2 to adult. $19.99
  • Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. A classic along with Silverstein’s more somber, The Giving Tree. These poems are fun, highly imaginative, and quirky: “You’ll meet a boy who turns into a TV set, and a girl who eats a whale. The Unicorn and the Bloath live there, and so does Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout who will not take the garbage out. It is a place where you wash your shadow and plant diamond gardens, a place where shoes fly, sisters are auctioned off, and crocodiles go to the dentist. Shel Silverstein’s masterful collection of poems and drawings stretches the bounds of imagination and will be cherished by readers of all ages.” $8.37-19.99 on Amazon.


Art/Poetry/Memoir/Spiritual Journey

  • The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff, who also authored the Te of Piglet, is a very accessible look into what this branch of Chinese philosophy, Taoism, emphasizes. From a natural-ness, spontaneity, simplicity born through humility, compassion, and frugality, A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh is “one of the world’s great Taoist masters…While Eeyore frets and Piglet hesitates, and Rabbit calculates, and Owl pontificates, Pooh just is.” $12 new on Amazon.
  • The Two Kinds of Decay, a poetic memoir by Sarah Manguso. Suddenly dealing with an autoimmune disease in her twenties, she is forced to contemplate prolonged illness, her depression, the “arduous blood cleansings, collapsed veins, multiple chest catheters…the deaths of friends and strangers, addiction, and worst of all for a writer, the trite metaphors that accompany [it all].” Celebrated for transcending the notion of “what an illness story can and should be,” her writing offers some amazing perspectives: “But it isn’t so much that a war ends in a single moment as much as people decide to agree the war has ended in a single moment. And so the measurement becomes unassailable. Not accurate. Just unassailable.” $10.65 new on Amazon.
  • Forget Me Not by Jennifer Lowe-Anker: “Written with compelling honesty and drawing from Alex’s letters and journals, [this] is Jenni’s story of life with—and without—Alex [Lowe]. She shares an intimate portrait of two fiercely independent people pursuing their separate passions…while remaining deeply committed to each other…[It is] an adventurous and insightful memoir, a timeless story about the often complicated, yet ultimately transformative, power of love.” $18.95 new on Amazon.
  • Harley and Me: Embracing Risk on the Road to a More Authentic Life by Bernadette Murphy. This book is a wonderful combination of the science and psychology of risk and the actual follow-through for Murphy, who, after a divorce, decided to live the life and rediscover the audacious woman she had always wanted to be, via a motorcycle and a cross-country trek into the unknown. For a complete review we did of this book, click here. $10.99-12.56 on Amazon.
  • Art Since 1960, 3rd edition by Michael Archer. A look at the history and theory behind modern and contemporary art, such as Dadaism, Pop Art, Hyper Realism, Minimalism, Graffiti, Neo-Cenceptualism, etcetera, this book dives deep into the influential artists for each movement and theories behind why the movements came to be. $21.95 new on Amazon.


Noteworthy Adventure Publications

  • The Climbing Zine, with essays, poetry, and general ruminations by various authors. With 11 Volumes so far, this Zine is only gaining more and more momentum. Creating a unique space for emerging or established writers in the industry, the Zine shares accounts of choss piles, first ascents, body-image issues, alpine wedding, dirtbaggerie, lyrical odes, etcetera. Embracing off-the-beaten-track perspectives, this Zine comes highly recommended. $9.99 per Zine or $19.99 for a one-year subscription, see the website for other deals and packages.
  • Misadventures Magazine is one of the only outdoor print magazines dedicated to producing content for and by womxn. New to the scene, they are quickly gaining popularity. From DIY hacks, How-To’s, profiles, to adventurous tales, this magazine champions those who “embrace creativity, take risks, and go out and beyond.” $19.00 for a one-year subcription (2 issues).
  • Alpinist Magazine, a quarterly publication “dedicated to world alpinism and adventure climbing. The pages of Alpinist capture the art of ascent in its most powerful manifestations, presenting an articulation of climbing and its lifestyle that matches the intensity of the pursuit itself.” In addition to hearty feature essays, the magazine also includes poetry, letters, and short vignettes from the day-to-day climbing lifestyle. We have always been impressed with the quality and meticulous research put into the content of this magazine. $49.95 for a one-year subscription (4 issues).

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