8 of My Favourite Adventure Books by Women
In honour of International Women’s Day, and International Book Day, I thought I’d pull together a short list of the “adventure” books which have moved and inspired me the most over the last couple of years.
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
A couple of years ago I found the film of Wild on Netflix and decided to give it a go. The story of Cheryl Strayed’s physical and emotional journey moved me deeply, and I needed more, so I followed up the film by reading the book, which is even better than the film. This is a book about loss and pain, and of how some solitude, some incredibly challenging nature, and a few lovely people can help you to heal. This book reignited my longing for the outdoors after a long sleep, and it marks the start of my own outdoors journey.
Felicity Aston - Call of the White and Alone in Antarctica
Needing more adventure after Wild, I fairly randomly found Felicity Aston on Amazon, and picked up Alone in Antarctica. The world she describes was so alien to me, but her reaction to it seemed so ordinary that I could imagine myself there. She laughs, cries, hallucinates, hurts and marvels at the incredible place she’s alone in. While Antarctica felt like a world away, I enjoyed the book so much that I immediately went on to read Call of the White, about her Commonwealth team. Again, this was ordinary people grappling with a strange world, and I was captivated. After finishing these books I couldn’t stop thinking about snow, and how it would feel to be there myself. So much so that I was making plans to join a tourist group in Norway, when I met Thorsten. The rest, as they say, is history.
Sarah Outen - Dare to Do
Sarah’s trip around the world by human power is a remarkable story of perseverance. The low lows and the high highs kept me hooked, along with the amazing people and things she met along her journey. Her trip doesn’t go exactly as planned, and her descriptions of the horrendous experiences she has on the ocean, and her subsequent struggles with her mental health are at times painful to read. You can’t help but empathise as she’s thwarted again and again by the sea, but her final success is all the more sweet for it. She finds balance, love, and triumph over the course of the book and felt like I was there cheering her on through all of it.
Anna McNuff - Pants of Perspective and 50 Shades of the USA
Anna is a very natural writer, and reading first “Pants...” and now “50 Shades...” it’s easy to imagine what it would be like to join her on her (occasionally madcap) adventures. She too shares her lows as much as her highs, and I winced and celebrated along with her. Anna is a seriously tough cookie, and pushed herself through a lot, but she’s also very honest about her fear and her worry about not being able to keep going. Both of her books are very relatable, despite being pretty amazing feats, and so really inspired me to think about my own adventures!
This book tells the story of their unsupported crossing of Antarctica, the first time this had been done by an all woman team. Reading about the training they were doing, the work to find sponsors, and their learning (and accidents) with kite skiing make it clear how tough it was for them to even get to Antarctica in the first place. The insights into their teamwork and how much they had to rely on each other is really interesting, and I loved how far they shared their experiences with schools along their trip, which has inspired me to do the same with my travels!
Megan Hine - Mind of a Survivor
This book echos sentiments I’ve heard in most of these other books, that survival in difficult and dangerous circumstances has little to do with how “hard” you are, and much more about your mental state. Megan Hine clearly lays out what makes her the amazing expedition leader she is and gave me plenty to think about how I approach every aspect of my life, and where I need to practice more! It’s a brilliant read, full of her own amazing stories, and a really practical guide to becoming entirely badass.
Rosie seems like the sort of person it’s impossible to dislike, and I immediately warmed to as she set off to run around the world alone, except for a little cart she pulled. Her journey is amazing, and she takes extreme temperatures, wolves, being hit by a bus, and chatting with outlaws all in her stride. She spends winters in Russia and Alaska, experiencing cold the like of which I can’t even imagine, and describes her amazing encounters with humans, animals and nature. Her physical abilities to keep going are astounding, but again, it’s her mental state which is key. I really want to meet her after reading this book, she seems like an incredible woman.
Helen Mort (ed) - Waymaking
I read this book while on a break from work due to stress last year, and it was like a kind of medicine. This is a collection of writing and pictures by women about the great outdoors. The good and bad, beauty and ugliness, it’s raw and honest and wonderful. It made me laugh and cry, read bits out loud, and long for a solo adventure. There’s so much to relate to in here about our relationship with the outdoors, as humans, but also particularly as women. No judgement, no preconceptions, just existing in and with the natural world. It’s a work of art, and once I’ve kept next to my bed to dip in to whenever I have 5 minutes to spare.