Five Books to Read When You'd Rather Be Outside

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Somewhere around early October, when we get our first couple of days that don't break 60 degrees, I start getting all giddy about the glory of winter in the Black Hills. I dig out my extra-cozy Smartwools, I begin to wear stocking caps unnecessarily, and I start compulsively checking the 5-day forecast, praying for snow.  

By the end of January, it's lost a little of it's sparkle. I still love the cold fresh air, the way hoarfrost looks like magic, and the solitude of a good trail in the "off-season". But I start to dream of creek crossings in chacos, lazy camping (winter camping is something, but it's not lazy), and going on a hike without implementing a "layering strategy". 

And even if you're a half-crazy, cold-weather-worshipping, frozen-snot snow-junky, (I manage the Granite Sports Instagram account. I know who you are.) sometimes you have to hang up the parka and thaw out your toes by the fire. For these occasions, and other times when you're taking a break from your adventures (voluntary, or otherwise) we've compiled a short list of good reads that will have you enjoying the great outdoors, even if from afar. 

#1) Wilderness Essays - John Muir

A classic, by a classic. Considered by many as "The Father of the National Parks", John Muir was a Scottish-American naturalist and activist who devoted his life to the preservation of our great wilderness, namely Yosemite Valley. This collection of essays is a celebration of the beauty of the wild spaces he cherished, and a must read for anyone who loves the outdoors.

#2) Walking the Amazon: 860 Days. One Step at a Time - Ed Stafford

A jungle adventure, without the bugs. If you were a fan of Bill Bryson's A Walk In the Woods (the book...not the movie...we're not even going to talk about how terrible the movie was...), then you will love this account of one man's incredible 4,000 mile journey down the entire length of the Amazon.

#3) Drawn: The Art of Ascent - Jeremy Collins

Like a graphic novel, but for hippies. Part sketch book, part memoir, this beautiful book takes you on a journey of soul-searching and wilderness adventure with artist and rock-climber, Jeremy Collins. 

#4) Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival - Bernd Heinrich

A science book that will make you feel warm and fuzzy. If you've ever been cold wearing $400 worth of 600-fill-power down, and had a naked deer cross your path looking perfectly comfortable, and you thought to yourself, "How the heck do they do it?", then this book is for you. Heinrich explains the incredible ways creatures survive the elements with more grace than we do. 

#5) The Collected Poems of Wendell Berry

Re: Life, love, and caring for the land. A collection of earlier poetry by the endearing and passionate farmer, conservationist, and essayist Wendell Berry including my personal favorite, "The Peace of Wild Things". 

#6) Black Hills Blessing - Mary Connealy

I'm just going to leave this here. You're welcome. 

Marci Eben

Marci is a Black Hills native. She's been on the Granite Sports team since 2007, and when she's not writing, photographing, Tweeting and Tumblr-ing about all-things-Granite-Sports, she keeps busy "working" for Young Life, roasting coffee in her house in the woods, and planning her next adventure.