Best Wilderness Living Books

David Lawrence
• Sunday, 29 November, 2020
• 8 min read

Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube confronts the alternately painful and beautiful realities of being a woman in the wilderness, offering a nuanced perspective on what drives us to get (and stay) outside. There are a lot of wilderness survival books out there on the market right now and each author approaches the subject a little differently.

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It’s a mile wide and an inch deep, so it doesn’t have the space to go into great detail on any one topic. Camping and Wilderness Survival uses relatively simplistic track drawings that feel pretty dated nowadays.

It covers many topics, but tends to be geared towards short term survival and wilderness evasion in hostile territory. It has some great insight into survival psychology, and it covers extreme scenarios like nuclear fallout.

The book is a journal of sorts that documents the two men and their experiences getting through a month-long survival trip together. The downside of this book is that the meaty information and facts are sprinkled throughout a narrative in chronological order, so it can be hard to look up a specific topic.

This book is slim, but loaded with great information that is delivered with a healthy dose of pop-culture references and profanity. The book does not have enough space to go really deep into diagrams and instructions, but it has some great chapters about fear, awareness and the basics of survival.

It does not fall into the twin traps of being either too technical or too basic and the way the materials are delivered makes it a fun and amusing read. The second is devoted to primitive living techniques and long term survival activities such as bow making and clay firing.

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I hope these reviews help you find the resource right for you, and that they serve to inspire you to get outside and practice wilderness survival skills! About the Author: Jeremy Williams is an experienced wilderness skills educator and wildlife tracker.

Get monthly updates on new wilderness skills articles, upcoming courses, and special opportunities. It covers a good range of survival skills some of which as a civilian you will not need like how thick you need to build walls and roofs for different types of bombs or how to hide a tank.

This book pretty much covers everything for wilderness survival, but it is big and heavy. This one has the feel of sitting around the campfire learning from seasoned pros. Here you will find more hunting and fishing tips than most other survival books.

If this sounds outrageous or out of bounds, read The Road, by Cormac McCarthy. The author of this book has nine people to feed regularly, and lectures on food preparation awareness and emergency preparedness.

More than that, it shows you other essentials you should store such as clothing, bedding, first-aid supplies, fuel, and most importantly, water. You’ll get ten steps for creating an affordable food storage program.

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You’ll find this survival book entertaining and easy to read, but very practical. The book addresses drinking water needs, alternative lighting, food storage, heating and cooling, and much more.

If you can make delicious meals out of locally available plants, you’re worth in your community will be inestimable. There are color photographs to aid in plant identification, plus a harvest calendar and bibliography.

This book has been called “a destined underground classic” and “a nonstop thrill ride, jam-packed with common sense modern survival skills for the backcountry, the backyard, or the highway.” Does that sound useful and entertaining? If you want to keep your temperature at 98.6 degrees whether you’re lost in the desert or a snowstorm, read this book and learn to save your life.

It is written by a family man who survived the 2001 economic collapse in Argentina. He’s put his experience and wisdom into this manual to help people in other countries as try hard to save their lives and learn new skills after the economic collapse.

You will learn how to fight to defend yourself using a variety of weaponry including chairs and pens. Learn about survival in the tropics, the Arctic, at sea, in the desert, and in enemy territory.

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Hank Shaw shares tales of hunts, tips on procuring the right ingredients, and lessons on cooking wild foods. If your dad has any desire to fire up the grill, or fancy’s himself a cook, this is a great gift idea.

Throughout history and throughout the world, crisis has come from storms, floods, earthquakes, and wars. And throughout history and the world, the people who survived such disasters were the strongest, healthiest, fastest, smartest and most prepared.

Begin to educate yourself through books and simple purchases of extra food during your weekly grocery shopping can help you to become better prepared. When I find myself wishing for some vaguely imagined nonexistent book I’d like to read, I’m almost always pining for a novel of the wild outdoors.

I love urbane social comedies and absurd novels about office work and many kinds of fiction set mostly indoors and in town. Lots of outdoor fiction offers straight faced realism written as if literature hasn’t changed in a century, or the didactic ism of characters each standing in for a position on some environmental issue and making sure you know it whenever they open their mouths.

There don’t ever seem to be enough of those books to keep me sated, but here are a few of my favorites (though I’ve left off a couple that are better known, for the sake of sharing some overlooked blooms in the scrub). Presented as the early 1900s diary of a proto-feminist, single mother author of pulp fictions who goes into an Oregon forest in search of a missing girl, only to get lost herself and discover mysterious creatures beyond what her insistent rationalism allows for, Gloss’s novel delves into myths of the “Wildman” and myths of gender and does it all with a magnificent narrative voice as wild as the surrounding forest.

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M, who goes by the name Martin though it isn’t his, gets hired by a pharmaceutical company to hunt and harvest DNA from the world’s last living Tasmanian tiger, long after the species is thought extinct. Somehow, in a very short novel, Leigh weaves together the shadowy reach of modern business, the tragic colonial and ecological histories of her setting, a classic story of exploration stripped of its celebratory machismo, and a mother and children left behind broken by the blinkered desires of men.

The nameless middle-aged narrator visits friends at their remote mountain hunting lodge, only to be left alone by the inexplicable appearance of an invisible barrier at the edge of the valley it occupies. Left to fend for herself, she breaks restraints built up over years spent sublimating her individual identity into that of a mother and wife, allowing a wilder self to emerge.

I could have picked any one of Minimal’s novels to put on this list, because it’s hard to think of a writer consistently doing more exciting things in fiction about the natural world. Alternating between their accounts of events we’re privy to the relationship’s tensions and strains as the couple are stripped of pretenses and niceties by their time in the wild, but we’re also aware of an eerier presence in the surrounding forest.

It’s an account of a Scottish couple fleeing the city for a wild home in the hills ahead of the imminent threats of perpetual war, disease, and disaster. The Blue Fox moves between a hunter, his vulpine quarry, a boy with Down’s syndrome, and other characters in mysterious tandem, woven together as any place is with threads of history and folklore and transformation.

Sometimes when I read literature in translation I suspect I’m missing so much that the power of the work is lost to me, but with The Blue Fox that opacity is one of the qualities I most enjoy: I know there are allusions and echoes I’m not attuned to, but that misunderstanding feels like wandering a landscape I only half understand and just makes me want to return. There are plenty of novels offering sentimental accounts of characters giving up their fast city lives at the inspiration of some noble animal; perhaps some of those are imitations of this.

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When the world collapses in ways and for reasons they don’t quite understand, sisters Eva and Nell are left alone at the remote cabin their family retreated to in preparation. Into the Forest is as gripping as any thriller or rural horror, but there’s a thoughtfulness to the novel perfectly balanced with details of the pragmatic, often painful means by which the sisters survive.

I’ve read that Kivirähk’s novel is so popular in his native Estonia there’s a board game based on it, and I can only hope it, too, is available in English someday, so I can play and return to its remarkable world. Riddle Walker is Hogan’s best -known novel (and maybe his best), and Turtle Diary is the one most recently restored to print and public acclaim, but The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz has to go down as my favorite.

A domesticated English garden hardly seems wild, but Klinkenborg’s novel narrated by the titular Timothy, a female tortoise kept by eighteenth-century naturalist Gilbert White, makes it so. Power is the story of a Taiga teenager pulled into a maelstrom of media and politics after she watches her aunt kill a tribally sacred and legally protected panther.

That’s a dual-awareness I often long for in fiction, and Myers delivers whether in the realist mode of novels like Beatings or in his novella Sorry & Frost, a treat of absurdist minimalism about a pair of woodcutters. McInnes’ debut is a detective novel, following an inspector whose search for a missing man takes him deep into a strange jungle.

And it’s also a story about the literal and figurative breakdown of identity, whether as a result of the daily grind of work or of sharing the landscape of our own skins with millions of microorganisms.

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