Whether you are a new mom busy nursing for a few months, in the crazy season at work, saving up for your next adventure, or are just waiting at the airport to board a plane to the next place on your itinerary, chances are at some point you will be between adventures. Maybe you’ll be looking for a mental getaway, or at least a touch of inspiration. Here are four fantastic travel and adventure books to see you through until the next time you can get away yourself!
The Happiness of Pursuit By: Chris Guillebeau In this 1 part theory, 1 part practical tips, 1 part inspiration book, Chris Guillebeau explores the idea that happiness comes not from pursuing it, but from pursuing ‘the quest”. It is the act of creating and achieving big, hairy, audacious goals that gives us joy and purpose in life. He chronicles a few stories from his own personal quest to visit every country on earth (yes, all of them) and gives glimpses into the quests of others like walking across the US, completing the MIT computer science curriculum in one year while working a fulltime job, writing a blog post every day for an entire year, or cooking a traditional meal from a different country around the world every week until she had eaten food from everywhere. The author claims that while adventure looks different for everyone, adventure IS for everyone. I tend to agree. His criteria for what makes a quest are 1. A quest has a specific end point. 2. A quest presents a clear challenge. 3. A quest requires sacrifice of some kind. 4. A quest is often driven by a calling or a sense of mission. 5. A quest requires a series of small steps and incremental progress towards a goal. This book inspired me to take a number of my own disconnected desires and coalesce them into a quest list of my own. I’ll publish that in the coming weeks so you can see how I’m progressing.
Feeding the Rat: Profile of a Climber By: A Alvarez This is an adventure literature classic that is just as relevant, entertaining and informative as it was 30 years ago. The author profiles prominent British mountaineer Mo Anthoine in midlife. So much more than just an accounting of the life and times of one man, Feeding the Rat puts words to the indescribable feelings all outdoor adventure lovers have about their exploration, about the answer to the age old question “why?’. Even for those who have no inclination to climb mountains at all, the humour and excitement of this book makes it worth the read. Afterall, it’s hardly about the summit anyway, it about the experiences you have along the way.
Run the World By: Becky Wade Like many new college graduates, Becky Wade left a successful lifetime of academia to find herself at a loss for what she truly wanted to do with her life. Unlike most of us though, she had spent her University days not only earning top marks in her studies, but performing as a top runner for her school. Would she relegate running to a pastime and go into a steady career? Or should she pursue an athletic career first? Did she have the stuff? She was fit and fast no doubt, but competing in the professional and global arena is a whole other ball game. As luck would have it, she received funding from the Thomas J. Watson fellowship to travel the world for one year in order to make a study of any area of interest she chose. Having marveled at the variety of different training and coaching styles of successful runners the world over, she sets out on a globe trotting adventure to run with athletes in nine different countries and four continents. Along the way she gains new friends, new approaches to training and recovery, and a totally new level of confidence. While I myself will never be a world class runner, I loved this unique approach to travel and training and am incredibly inspired to reach out to more local people in my future travels, and maybe to dust off my running shoes a bit more often.
Wild Mama: One Woman's Quest to Live Her Best Life, Escape Traditional Parenthood, and Travel the World By: Carrie Visintainer I have saved the absolute best for last. This book is the adventure loving mama’s manifesto. I consumed it in a single weekend. I was nodding my head and connecting so much with everything in this, I swear I could have written 80% of the words myself. The fear of losing herself to parenthood, the awkward attempts to figure out career in a post kid life, the postpartum depression that went on WAY too long, and the realization that finding a way to make all of herself fit again was not optional. This is one of those books that has impacted me permanently, and came at exactly the right moment. It’s was the type of transcendent reading experience that left me simultaneously ready to tell every mama I know all about it, and yet left me almost speechless to explain all the reasons why this is a must read. My absolute favorite part is towards the end when she has a heart to heart with her son about why she is leaving on a trip without him. She explains that travel is something she loves. That it makes her whole, and happy. That when we love people, we are supportive of them doing the things that make them feel alive, even if it doesn’t include us. As he begins to connect this to the ways his parents support him in doing the things HE loves, he understands and is excited to hear about her trip when she returns. You can practically hear the walls of mom guilt crash and burn. Get this one. You won’t regret it. (Side note: No, I did not take the name of this blog from the title of this book. It was a coincidence.)
What are some of your favorite travel and adventure reads? Leave me a comment, I want to know what to read next!
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