The Books That Will Make You Want To Get Outside And Into Nature

Take inspiration from these eight nature-focused titles on camping, foraging and plenty more.
“The Modern Caravan: Stories of Love, Beauty, and Adventure on the Open Road” by Kate Oliver, “The Camping Bible” by Jen Benson and Sim Benson and “Out There: A Camper Cookbook: Recipes from the Wild” by Lee Kalpakis.

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Nature can be a beautiful and healing thing, but many of us don’t get to enjoy its wonders nearly enough. Who would have thought that a book would be the inspiration you need to get yourself outdoors and take in all it has to offer?

Like “The Modern Caravan,” a wanderlust-inducing book that documents the enviable interiors of retrofitted camper vans, or a camper cookbook to encourage the outdoor culinarian in all of us.

Whether you’re in search of the next great trail to hike or are a camping novice who is hoping to learn where to start, you’ll find just what you need in the following nature-based titles.

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“The Modern Caravan: Stories of Love, Beauty, and Adventure on the Open Road” by Kate Oliver
During the pandemic, Airstreams and campers boomed, presumably due to people’s desire for less crowded forms of travel. The result? A newfound appreciation for van living and travel camping. Kate Oliver’s “The Modern Caravan” offers a glimpse at the potential of van life and inspiration for anyone interested in making a travel caravan of their own. The book features gorgeous photographs of retrofitted van interiors and stories of the travelers who own them. It’s like breezing through an issue of Dwell but exclusively for living rooms with wheels. With a backdrop of stellar vistas and iconic camping sites, Oliver, a talented Airstream designer and builder herself, will rouse your deepest wanderlust — or at the very least make you want to update your couch pillows. This is an ideal coffee table read that also offers plenty of insights into the world of Airstreams, how to care for them and how to make the most out of your road trips.
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"Where Should We Camp Next?" by Stephanie and Jeremy Puglisi
Stephanie and Jeremy Puglisi are the married duo behind the traveling podcast “The RV Atlas.” In their book, the outdoorsy adventurers share over 300 American campsites that will captivate any traveler, from novice day-trippers to Patagonia-clad camping enthusiasts. Given the authors’ expertise, their book is akin to a detailed insider’s guide, but it’s still easily accessible and designed to inspire and empower readers to brave the outdoors. Crack the cover to learn everything from where to find lesser-known trails, to how to spot (or avoid) certain wildlife, to achieving the perfect camp setup.
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“The Camping Bible” by Jen Benson and Sim Benson
Replacing the incessant barrage of work emails and the countless nights spent doomscrolling with the relaxing pace of the outdoors might seem impossible. But Jen and Sim Benson’s “The Camping Bible” is a lesson on how to do just that. The couple has camped everywhere from Ireland to the Himalayas, and even swapped their rental home to live in a tent for a year in an effort to connect their family to nature. They’ve taken their expert knowledge of camping and turned it into an easy-to-read and essential reference guide, including They include dedicated chapters on lesser-known places to camp and lessons on knot-tying, outdoor cooking tips, tent hacks and more.
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“Out There: A Camper Cookbook: Recipes from the Wild” by Lee Kalpakis
After a decade living as a New York City chef, Lee Kalpakis opted to leave her bustling, fast-paced life behind to test out her cooking skills in a 200-square foot camper in the woods of the Catskill Mountains. Kalpakis, who worked as a private chef for prominent food sites Bon Appetit, Epicurious and Delish, was already used to cooking in small spaces, but her new life meant stretching her culinary ingenuity — and cooking without the ease of modern kitchens. Through this experience she began to write a cookbook, which would become “Out There,” — a beautifully illustrated cookbook with over 50 recipes much more sophisticated than grilled hot dogs and s’mores, like campfire bucatini with charred tomato sauce and a cast-iron lamb and fennel pie. Kalpakis’ recipes lean on seasonal ingredients and also include “backpack snacks,” as well as “canteen cocktails” like her black currant spritz. Aside from Kalpakis’ tasty recipes the book features tips on how to organize and clean a tiny pantry and how to cook with an open fire while fully off the grid.
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“The Adventure Gap” by James Edward Mills
James Edward Mills is an avid outdoorsman, a veteran journalist and an environmental conservationist dedicated to inspiring others to live a more sustainable and adventurous life. As he writes, even though state and national parks belong to all Americans, people of color like Mills, who is Black, are less likely to venture into these spaces. His book “The Adventure Gap” is about a team of Black adventurers sponsored by the nonprofit National Outdoor Leadership School. Mills writes a detailed account of how, according to the book’s publisher, the group “seeks recreation, adventure, and solace in wilderness” as people of color. All too often these experiences are fraught with racism, like in the case of Christian Cooper, the birdwatcher verbally attacked by a white woman in Central Park. Mills also uses the NOLS expedition as a way to shed light on the undervalued contributions of minority outdoorsmen and adventure-seekers in history, such as Mathew Henson, a Black explorer who was among the first group of humans to reach the North Pole in 1909. Mills’ book works to support the idea that our natural world and the stewardship it offers belongs to everyone equally.
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"The Forager's Guide to Wild Foods" by Nicole Apelian
Dr. Nicole Apelian is an herbalist and wilderness skills instructor who spent several years living with one of the few remaining Indigenous hunter-gatherer tribes, the San Bushmen, in the Kalahari Desert. After being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, she began to delve deeper into wellness and healthier living. Her book, “The Forager’s Guide to Wild Foods,” is a concise and well-researched guide to 400 edible foods you can find in nature. In her book, Apelian includes specific North American locales to forage, accompanied by colorful photos of everything from seaweeds to lichen, as well as recipes. Readers can also learn about the various medicinal properties of each of the included plants, as well as which poisonous plants to avoid.
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"On Trails: An Exploration" by Robert Moor
In “On Trails: An Exploration,” avid trail-walker and journalist Robert Moor crafts a book that is a mixture of notes on sociology, natural history and scientific expedition. It’s a journal of sorts, compiling all his seven years of hiking and exploring trails across the globe and delving into the whys and hows of trails. Moor discusses paths that are historic, animal-created or long-forgotten. But he also traces the trails we use today, sharing his fascination on how these lines were deliberately decided upon and how they correlate to the paths we choose in life — all in the hopes of instilling a larger sense of wonder.
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"Into the Wild" by Jon Krakauer
Published in 1997, this bestselling nonfiction book written by the investigative journalist Jon Krakauer tells the story of Chris McCandles, a recent college graduate disenchanted with capitalism and stirred by the work of naturalist John Muir and writer Jack London. After donating his savings and assuming the new name of Alexander Supertramp, McCandless decided to abandon his life and embark on a pilgrimage into the Alaskan wilderness, taking with him none of the trappings of modern conformity and materialism. Several months later, his body was discovered by moose hunters in the camp inside a broken-down bus. Krakauer used McCandless’ photographs and journals, along with interviews with his family, to write a gut-wrenching, complex and compelling account that has continued to captivate readers nearly 30 years later. Despite McCandless’ untimely demise, his story is one of devotion to and appreciation of the great outdoors.

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