North America

Including Canada, the United States and Mexico.

5 stars

Born to Run by Christopher MacDougall
Countries: Mexico
Blurb: Combining two of my greatest loves, trail running and travelling, this book is one of my all time favourites. At its heart is the author’s search for the secret sauce of long distance running that focuses on the reclusive Tarahumara tribe who have hidden themselves away in the notorious Badlands of the Copper Canyons in Mexico. Interwoven with anthropology and a fifty mile foot race pitting a group of ultramarathoners against the flying Tarahumara, whose word for themselves, Rarámuri, means “those who run fast”, it’s hard not to be swept up by the majesty of the scenery, the people whose story this depicts and the sheer joy of running itself.

4 and a half stars

Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw by Will Ferguson
Countries: Canada
Blurb: A funny and extremely well written book detailing Ferguson's travels "in search of Canada" among the outposts and enclaves of the Great White North during the early 2000's. Whilst Ferguson's trips take place in a non-contiguous fashion over a period of three-and-a-half years, the quality of writing ensures that each of his excursions melds seamlessly with the next, as he travels from the southern end of Vancouver Island in the west to the northern tip of Newfoundland in the east.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Published: 2012

Countries: United States
Blurb: At the age of 26 Strayed finds her life spiraling out of control after the loss of her mother to cancer. Recently divorced having committed numerous infidelities and abusing alcohol and drugs, she decides to hike the famous Pacific Crest Trail despite having no experience at all. The resultant book, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, is written from journal notes Strayed wrote in 1995 before publishing in 2012 and is an extremely gritty account of her 3-month, 1,750 km journey. A story of honesty and courage, Strayed's cathartic outpourings are written with pure rawness and is as much a story about a woman who is seeking redemption from past events and looking to create a new future for herself, on her own terms.

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
Countries: United States
Blurb: Originally written as a much shorter article by Krakauer for Outside Magazine in 1993 and focussing on McFadden’s death in the Alaskan wild, the book provides a better forum to expand upon McCandless’ life and travels leading up to his fateful journey. Krakauer writes wonderfully well and his story is masterfully constructed from his extensive investigations into McCandless’ life via his Alaskan photos and journal, correspondence and interviews with people with whom McCandless had met on his journey. The story will leave you pondering your own role in society and its institutions long after you’ve turned the last page. Live on Alexander Supertramp. 

4 stars

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
Countries: United States
Blurb: The legendary road-trippin novel that follows Raoul Duke and his Attorney, Dr Gonzo, on their drug-fuelled search for the American Dream in Las Vegas. The book that birthed gonzo journalism, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is widely considered as an American literary classic and one which deserves to read again and again in order to enjoy, understand and then simply enjoy once again.

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
Countries: United States
Blurb: Concerned at the rate at which the Appalachian wilderness is disappearing, Bill Bryson teams up with his long-forgotten college friend, Stephen Katz, to walk the granddaddy of hiking trails, The Appalachian National Scenic Trail, more commonly known as the Appalachian Trail or AT.  Told in Bryson's usual humourous fashion, this story of two middle-aged mountain men shambling down the pathway munching on Snickers bars is an extremely fun read and one that brings the AT to life.

3 and a half stars

The Last Englishman by Keith Foskett
Countries: United States
Blurb: A fascinating story on Foskett’s through hike of the Pacific Crest Trail covering some 2,650 miles from the border of Mexico to Canada.As the Last Englishman of the season embarking on the PCT, this book provides great insights into life on the trail and the personalities of the people who, at various times, he hikes alongside. Full of information, suspense and entertainment, this book will have you reaching for your hiking boots to charge out the door, for a much shorter walk, of course.

Finding Ultra by Rich Roll
Countries: United States
Blurb: An enjoyable biographic focusing on the author’s midlife transformation from being overweight to a plant powered ultra-ironman.  Covering his upbringing, including his struggles as an alcoholic, this isn’t really an average joe transforms himself into a world beater story, as the author has pedigree as a younger man as an elite swimmer. However, the honesty with which the story is written makes this an extremely good read. Culminating in the author’s attempt to complete the “Epic5”—five Ironman-distance triathlons, each on a different Hawaiian island, all completed in less than a week, this book should have you re-evaluating what we all are possible of achieving and even contemplating whether pursuing a life on vegetables alone isn’t nearly as crazy as what it sounds.