Best of 2015

412vKDjjZyL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Phenomenal by Leigh Ann Henion
After becoming a new mother, Leigh Ann set off on a quest to observe seven natural phenomena around the world: a butterfly migration, bioluminescent waters, Catatumbo lightning, a volcanic eruption, the northern lights, the great migration of Tanzania, and a total solar eclipse. This is a compelling travel story on it’s own, but Leigh Ann gives us so much more. She looks for meaning in these unexplained wonders, learning not just the scientific explanations but also the cultural aspects and the overlapping of the two. She contemplates spirituality, mythology and ultimately what it means to be human.


51lrL30EcUL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_The Mountain Story by Lori Lansens
This is the fictional story of an 18-year-old boy named Wolf who, on a cool November day, rides a gondola to the top of a mountain to end his life. But on the way he meets some unprepared hikers and the four of them become lost on the mountain. In the following days the hikers learn about each other and their secrets. This riveting adventure story will have you double checking your ten essentials before going out on your next hike and staying up all night reading about these fascinating characters.



4c0caff90a212a04e4c87df2cbd47a30The Mountain Can Wait by Sarah Leipciger
The novel opens with a late night hit-and-run where a girl is injured and then jumps back and forth in time revealing the story of a man and his two kids making their way in the logging country of Canada. The father must come to face the difficulties of being a single father and the duties that go along with it. The story weaves through time with vivid descriptions of nature and the realities of a rugged lifestyle. It will leave you wanting more.



Headwaters_Cover_Page_001Headwaters, Poems & Field Notes by Saul Weisberg
As I read this collection of poems I got the same feeling I get when I think of my favorite hikes. The poems are short and succinct and evoke a sense of place with every word. This is the type of poetry I’ve been looking for, the type that I can understand and doesn’t try to be anything more than it is. Saul writes about the North Cascades and is the executive director of the North Cascades Institute. He has worked in the Northwest as a climbing ranger, field biologist, fisherman and fire lookout and lives in Bellingham, WA.



51ZFyNd66mL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
After the devastating loss of her father, Helen pours all that is left of herself into training a goshawk. She revisits old books for guidance, The Goshawk and The Once and Future King by T.H. White and draws on the parallels to her own journey to find solace. The writing in this book is beautiful and touching and looks to answer one of life’s big questions: can nature help to sooth our deepest sorrows?




51ZXcEU3mQL._SX334_BO1,204,203,200_The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf
It’s likely that you’ve heard his name before as it has been lent to counties, towns, rivers, mountains and lakes all over North America. But the story of Humboldt’s life is more fascinating and impressive than I could have imagined. He was a famous world traveler, mountain climber, volcano lover, and naturalist. He was a revolutionary thinker of his time and was one of the first to draw parallels throughout nature- he believed that everything is connected.  This little remembered scientist influenced our most treasured scientists and writers: Darwin, John Muir and Thoreau among many others. This is a must read for anyone who loves history and nature.


paddlenorth-cover-jennifer-kingsley-388x600Paddlenorth by Jennifer Kingsley
Kingsley and five companions were looking for adventure when they decided to paddle the Back River in the northern reaches of arctic Canada. It was a 54 day journey and they battled high winds, stubborn ice, and for some, their haunting pasts. The history of the river’s exploration is weaved throughout the book and a more current story is uncovered when they find an abandoned camp, canoe and backpacks. Meanwhile the team is constantly on the lookout for migrating caribou and grizzlies as they navigate the river and the relationships of the team. This is a compelling adventure memoir is raw, satisfying, and impossible to put down.


91xKW+EYgqLReclaimers by Ana Maria Spagna
Spagna travels up and down the west coast to the Panamints, the Sierra, and the Cascade Mountains to bring us stories of reclamation. She visits the Timbisha Shoshone in Death Valley and the Mountain Maidu in Humbug Valley both looking to take back parts of their sacred homelands. And she visits the Friends of the White Salmon River who fought to remove the inefficient Condit dam obstructing traditional salmon runs. These beautiful stories reflect the intricate relationship between people and nature and provide hope in a time of unsettling change.



51UtGfZBDmL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_All The Wild That Remains by David Gessner
Gessner follows in the footsteps of two iconic Western writers: Edward Abbey and Wallace Stegner. Both men left lasting imprints on their favorite parts of the Western landscape but in very different ways. Stegner, once Abbey’s writing teacher, took a traditional and disciplined approach to conservation and land use. In contrast, Abbey’s dramatic and hostile approach led him to acquire a cult following with his classics The Monkey Wrench Gang and Desert Solitaire. Gessner relates the men’s perspectives to current day issues as he travels from Stegner’s birthplace in Saskatchewan to Abbey’s burial place in the Southwest.


51C8ANXINWL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Rain: A Natural and Cultural History by Cynthia Barnett
Whether it is too much or not enough, humanity has a complicated relationship with the ever-important phenomenon of rain. Barnett starts at the beginning and paints a picture of Earth’s very first showers and the formation of the oceans. The timeline between then and now is weaved with science from Noah’s flood to Thomas Jefferson: our first forecaster, climate change and everything in between. Humans have attempted to control the flows with dams and levies, cloud seeding, rain dances and sacrifices but we have yet to conquer it. It has brought us together and torn us apart and will always be a part of our everyday life.

Looking for more outdoor books released in 2015? Check out my Goodreads list.

One Reply to “Best of 2015”

  1. Great! Going to bookmark this for inspiration. I am a scattered reader anymore since I’m not commuting by bus or vanpool. But if I pick up a good book that really grabs me, I have a hard time putting it down. Appreciate the synopses. Cheers for a happy 2016, you prolific reader!

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