Here is a large list of some of our favorite titles that may be of interest to those who love the great outdoors, do ministry in the wilderness, are trying to be more attentive to the beauty of God's creation, or who are interested in outdoor adventure trips.
Some of these are explicitly Christian; in fact, some are recommended by groups such as the Christian Adventure Association, an organization we are pleased to serve as a book provider. (Some. but not all, of these books may be listed at their inventory list at their own bookstore.) As you most likely know, here at the shop we read widely and enjoy books from many perspectives. Some of the views of some of these writers are less than orthodox as they describe faith and some of the memoirs, for instance, may have some colorful language. We selected them, though, for their overall worth, quality of writing, insight or general importance. We hope you like how we have curated this list.
Some titles that we list are not religiously oriented at all, and others, while not exactly Christian, are faith-based, Jewish or mystical, perhaps. These are suggested because they offer good insights or exercises that even traditional evangelicals can use with some adaptation and discernment. Not every book on this list is suitable for every outdoor educator or church camp, and we try to hint at the author's tone or perspective (and academic level) in these annotations. We hope you enjoy browsing through these descriptions and invite you to contact us if you have any questions, concerns or suggestions. We here at Hearts & Minds believe in reading widely and believe much wisdom can be gathered from various sources, and are therefore delighted to share this unique list of titles that, we trust, will help you and your team in your appreciation for God's creation and your enjoyment of your outdoor adventures.
At the end of this list there are two links to other pages of the Hearts & Minds website.
One, marked INQUIRE, takes you to an inquiry page near our order form page, and you should click there if you have questions. Don't forget to tell us what you want to know.
The other, marked ORDER, takes you to our webpage's order form. It is certified secure, and you only have to fill in the obvious information, and tell us what books you want to order. If you have shipping preferences, there is a place to note that, too. We take any standard credit cards and, if you'd rather, are happy to just send a bill along with the book shipment, and you can pay by check, in a return envelope which we will provide.
WE OFFER MOST OF THESE TITLES AT A 10% OFF. A few exceptions are noted.
The regular retail price is shown, and we will deduct the discount when you order.
OUTDOOR EDUCATION RESOURCES
Christian Outdoor Leadership: Theology, Theory, and Practice Ashley Denton (Smooth Stone Publishing) $24.95 There is literally no other resource like this, a great study of leadership and disciple-making, outdoor education theory, and an inspiring look at how evangelical faith can be enhanced as we mentor people in experiential-based wilderness trips.
The Role of the Instructor in the Outward Bound Educational Process Kenneth Kalisch (Morris Publishing) $21.95 A classic in the field, written by the legendary Christian leader at Honey Rock Camp, now a professor of outdoor education at Montreat College in NC. A must for serious educators.
Playing: Christian Explorations of Daily Living
James Evans (Fortress) $15.00 This is a short, dense book, opening up
fabulous insights into why it is important that we play, and how
playfulness and leisure is part of the (revolutionary!) freedom of an
authentic spirituality of daily living.
The Christian at Play Robert Johnson (Wipf & Stock) $20.00 Long considered a classic, this is a serious text exploring why we are called to playfulness, what it means to "recreate" and a theology of leisure. Important for outdoor educators and those pondering experiential education.
Guide for Recreation Leaders Glenn Bannerman & Robert Fakkema (Bridge Resources) $12.95 An easy-to-use resource for both experienced and inexperienced recreation leaders, a bit of theory and and look at why we play and use recreational experiences. It's loaded with simple, fun activities for all ages and various groups. Not designed for wilderness settings.
How to Use Camping Experiences in Religious Education Stephen Venable & Donald Marvin Joy (Religious Education Press) $15.95 Long considered a standard in the field, using development educational insights and outdoors experiential education theories. Although it gives a "nuts and bolts" overview, its hope is clear, sounded out in their slogan "transformation through Christian camping."
Adventure and the Way of Jesus: An Experiential Approach to Spiritual Formation Greg Robinson (Wood N Barnes Publications) $19.95 This is a fabulous book, highly recommended, created by a leader in faith-based experiential education. Robinson offers solid and useful insight on group dynamics, leadership, and organizational development.
Lessons on the Way: Using Adventure Activities to Explore the Way of Jesus Greg Robinson & Mark Rose (Wood N Barnes Publications) $24.95 Currently the President of Challenge Quest, Greg is an expert in team development and collective learning, a seasoned facilitator. He and Rose offer here a new collection of some of the best, time-tested and fun activities for spiritual formation, discipleship, and faith development in the outdoors settings. An essential resource.
Teamwork & Teamplay:
A Guide to Cooperative, Challenge and Adventure Activities that Build
Confidence, Cooperation, Teamwork, Creativity, Trust, Decision Making, Conflict
Resolution, Resource Management, Communication, Effective Feedback and Problem
Solving Jim Cain & Barry
Jolliff (Kendall Hunt) $ From the
lengthy, fun, sub-title you get that this is a huge resource (over 425 pages!)
offering the best of what we know experiential education can accomplish. This is a very useful reference tool,
packed with lots of great ideas for both "teamwork" and "teamplay."
Learning Bridges: Quick & Easy Activities for Change Jim Still-Pepper (Chalice Press) $16.99 Although not designed for outdoor eduation, this sort of activities "bridge the gap" between people and can break down distrust, resistance and help young adults (or others) engage in experiential learning. Interactive, teachable.
Tips and Tools: The Art of Experiential Group Facilitation Jennifer Stanchfield (Wood N Barnes) $27.95 Here is what it says on the back cover: Facilitation is an art, by its very nature an experiential practice. It is an ever dynamic process of give and take, learning and development. Tips & Tools explores the facilitator's role in groups of all kinds and offers creative tools and activities to enhance group experience, as well as sequencing and reflection strategies to increase individual involvement and growth.
Silver Bullets: A Guide to Initiative Problems, Adventure Games, and Trust Activities Karl Rohnke (Project Adventure) $37.95 Truly a classic in the field, it is a treasure chest of games, initiatives, experiences, and activities to create group cohesion, cooperation and trust.
Open To Outcome: A Practical Guide For Facilitating & Teaching Experiential Reflection Mari Rudy & Micah Jacobson (Wood N Barnes) $14.95 These two authors are renowned as trainers in their "five questions" process for debriefing experiential learning activities. Excellent for mentors, coaches, trip leaders who embrace this sort of community-based, educational philosophy.
Gold Nuggets: Readings in Experiential Education Jim Schoel & Mike Stratton (Project Adventure) $20.95 This is a little spiral bound, underground classic, prepared by Project Adventure outdoor educators, reflecting on experiences they've had...
Controversial Issues in Adventure Programming Bruce Martin & Mark Wagstaff (Human Kinetics Press) $49.00 What an amazing resource for serious leaders. These respected authors have assembled a team of more than 50 contributors from around the globe to reassess some of the underlying assumptions on which adventure programming is based. They use a debate format and the conversation is important and lively.
Ethical Issues in Experiential Education Jaspers Hunt (The Association for Experiential Education) $29.95 A serious, professional monograph exploring the complex ethical issues (secrecy, sexuality, risk, environmental care, etc.) that come up in experiential education.
Beyond Learning By Doing: Theoretical Currents in Experiential Education Jay W. Roberts (Routledge) $41.95 The author is Professor of Education and Environmental Studies at Earlham College, and is long been both a scholar and practitioner of outdoors-based, experiential education. This is one of the more scholarly, foundational texts in the field, recommended for anyone serious about understanding the latest pedagogical theories applied to wilderness experiences. Roberts is widely respected in the field, and writes from a Quaker perspective.
Colors of Nature: Cultural Identity and the Natural World edited by Alison H. Deming and Lauret E. Savoy (Milkweed Editions) $22.00 There is simply no other book in print like this; it is unprecedented. This is an important collection illuminating how people of color and various ethnic backgrounds and culture "see" and experience nature. This is essential reading for those leading multi-cultural trips or for anyone who cares about bringing the broadest range of insights to environmental journalism. Very moving, in many ways.
Allen & Mike's Really Cool Backpackin' Book: Traveling & Camping Skills for a Wilderness Environment Allen O'Bannon & Mike Clelland (FalconGuide) $14.95 Practical insight and fun illustrations on back country hiking.
Allen & Mike's Really
Cool Backcountry Ski Book: Traveling and Camping Skills for a Winter
Environment Allen O'Bannon & Mike Clelland (FalconGuide) $14.95 Practical
insight and fun illustrations on wilderness camping and skiing.
Allen & Mike's Really
Cool Telemark Tips: 123 Amazing Tips to Improves Your Tele-Skiing (revised
& expanded) Allen O'Bannon
& Mike Clelland (FalconGuide) $14.95 Practical insight and fun illustrations on wilderness skiing.
Allen & Mike's Avalanche Book: A Guide to Staying Save in Avalanche Terrain Allen O'Bannon & Mike Clelland (FalconGuide) $14.95 Practical insight and fun illustrations about a matter of utmost seriousness.
Cave Exploring: The Definitive Guide to Caving Technique, Safety, Gear, and Trip Leadership Paul Burger (Falcon Guides) $15.99 There are many good books that serve as an introduction to caving; we suggest this one because it does have some helpful material on leading trips.
Rock Climbing: Mastering Basic Skills Craig Luebben (Mountaineering Books) $22.95 One of the standard books, written by a master teacher (and leader in the American Mountain Guide Association) including not only skills and exercises, but comments on safety, understanding hazards, risk management, group trips, and other helpful material for outdoor leaders.
Bouldering: Movement, Tactics, and Problem Solving Peter Beal (Mountaineering Books) $18.95 Laden with pictures, this is an ideal book for anyone interested in the art and skills of solving boldering problems. There aren't many books of this sort and we are happy to recommend this one, which includes photos, illustrations and 10 useful strategy charts.
Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills (8th edition) The Mountaineers (Mountaineers Books) $29.95 This is considered a, if not the classic for all climbing enthusiasts. A must-have for any aspiring mountaineers library. Almost 600 pages, 7 x 9 with over 425 pictures.
The Backpacker's Field
Manual (Revised and Updated) Rick Curtis (Three Rivers Press) $16.00 This hefty, important book would be a
bargain at twice the price as it is jam-packed with everything you may need to
know (including much that you may not have thought of) before embarking on a
serious backcountry journey.
Comprehensive, classic, helpful for anyone learning about how to pack for a trip.
AMC Guide to Outdoor Leadership Alex Kosseff (Appalachian Mountain Club Books) $19.95 Many customers have found this to be an exceptional introduction to all sorts of important matters for trip leaders: trip planning, group Dynamics, decision-making, risk management. Includes a section on leading youth.
Lessons Learned II Deb Ajango (Watchmaker Press) $22.00 Every outdoor educator or group facilitator must know about risk management. The publisher says this about this useful volume: "through careful examination of accident accounts, followed by analysis of what went wrong and what went right, author/editor Deb Ajango helps readers better understand how and why even seemingly best-laid plans sometimes fail. Starting with two in-depth case studies, the book explores how accidents happen, how the resulting devastation affects participants and their families, and how the ramifications of such incidents affect programs and employees..."
Wilderness Ethics: Preserving the Spirit of Wildness Laura & Guy Waterman (The Countryman Press) $15.95 A compelling book making a strong claim that even wilderness protection programs in the United States are failing that which we call wilderness---in part because of so many who want to enjoy it, and therefore it needs managed. This asks big questions of what we mean by the wilderness experience and what we are hoping to preserve. The authors have lived for more than 25 years on a self-sufficient homestead in Vermont.
Backwoods Ethics: A Guide to Low-Impact Camping and Hiking Laura & Guy Waterman (second edition) (The Countryman Press) $15.95 With a foreword by backpacker and environmental activist Bill McKibben, this is a lovely and useful guide, at once visionary and practical. A classic.
Soft Paths Rich Brame & David
Cole (Stackpole Books) $19.95 A
definitive book from NOLS (The National Outdoor Leadership School) now in an
updated fourth edition. A
must-read about "leaving no trace" and low-impact camping and hiking. We can ship any of the NOLS books, by
the way; their whole wilderness education series is excellent, including titles such as Wilderness Ethics, Backcountry Cooking, Wilderness Medicine, Wilderness Navigation, or River Rescue.
See their entire list here: http://www.nols.edu/books/. We got 'em.
THE PHILOSOPHY AND THEOLOGY OF PLACE & LANDSCAPE
Landscape as Sacred Space: Metaphors for the Spiritual Journey Steven Lewis (Wipf & Stock) $16.00 An essential, core book exploring how to appreciate landscape, how to rethink spiritual formation in light of both outdoor educational insights and postmodern theory. This brief work is a significant contribution to spirituality and theology that is exceptional and important. Nearly brilliant, reflective, insightful , this study draws on the serious work of Beldan Lane and articulates how land and place can help in spiritual formation. Physical spaces are named in the Bible--mountaintops, valleys, deserts, rivers--and these clearly serve as symbols on our journey, apt metaphors for moments in everyone's life. Anyone interested in the outdoors and who enters into wilderness experiences will surely find this a helpful companion for thinking about what can be learned in creation, not so much about creation itself, but about our inner landscapes. From mountaintop experiences to spiritual deserts, this helps us integrate God into daily experience, by exploring life's landscapes. Provocative and profound; very highly recommended for leaders.
You Gave Me a Wide Place: Holy Places in Our Lives Paul Stroble (Upper Room) $15.00 This includes personal stories, exercises for individual or small-group use, framed by an extended rumination on place, God's great gift of space, and how our identity is shaped by location. The titles comes from Psalm 18:36.
Landscapes of the Soul: A Spirituality of Place Robert Hamma (Ave Maria Press) $9.95 By drawing on the Bible, psychology, and cultural studies, this prayerful Catholic explores not only our inner lives, but our sense of place, home, geography and locale. Is God present in certain places? All places? Are some doorways to His presence? For anyone going to specific places--even if for a visit--having a clear sense of God's faithfulness to locations is helpful.
Landscapes of the Sacred: Geography and Narrative in American Spirituality Belden Lane (Oxford University Press) $30.00 A highly-respected scholar offers three new interpretive models for understanding American sacred space. Dense, serious, and yet at time luminous. A must for mature thinkers about the role of land, place, wilderness and American religious traditions.
The Solace of Fierce
Landscapes: Exploring Desert and Mountain Spirituality Belden C. Lane (Oxford University
Press) $17.95 One of the most
esteemed books among those who do serious reading on the geography of faith;
literary and smart and important.
The author tells of Biblical stories and of ancient monks and their
spiritual experiences of both deserts and mountains, even as he writes
exquisitely about his own hikes and wilderness experiences. Lane is a
historian, philosopher, outdoorsman and born storyteller. Classic.
Where Mortals Dwell: A Christian View of Place for Today Craig G. Bartholomew (Baker Academic) $29.99 Richly informed by the history of theology and philosophy, this is the premier study of this vital topic from a solidly Christian perspective. No one has attended to this topic as Bartholomew has, making this a one of a kind study. There are endorsements from the likes of Bill McKibben and Norman Wirzba, who rave about the book's singular vision and exceptional importance. Outdoor educators and wilderness enthusiasts care about the land, so this is good for us; those who specialize in trips and being on journeys, too, will benefit from this study of home and placemaking. How many theological books incorporate a study of maps and topography? Wow.
Earth Works: Selected Essays Scott Russell Sanders (Indiana University Press) $25.00 One of the most esteemed essayists in America, a beloved writer and thoughtful author, his voice is both prophetic and tender, caring about place, aware of the nuances of story and landscape. Known as a Mid-Western nature writer and environmentalist, Saunders' wondrous prose is well worth knowing and this anthology is a beautiful way into his powerful, reflective work.
Ancient Practices: The Sacred Journey Charles Foster (Nelson) $12.99 Going on pilgrimage is an ancient religious practice, and this fine Christian thinker explores what it is about us that makes us want to "go" and be on journey. He pays little mind to the need for "a sense of place" and thinks the geography of faith is ever-moving as we hike, travel, explore and, yes, take intentional journeys of sacred pilgrimages. What a fun, provocative, and energetic book by a guy who has hiked all over the world.
EXPERIENCING GOD IN THE OUTDOORS
& THE SPIRITUALITY OF CREATION
All Creation Sings: The Voice of God in Nature J. Ellsworth Kalas (Abingdon) $14.00 A wonderfully clear, solid, upbeat reflective meditation on the wonder of creation, what we can learn by attending to God's speaking through it, as many Biblical texts teach. Most of us appreciate the beauty of God's wonderful creation, but it takes more attentiveness and Biblical faith to belief that God reveals things to us by way of his natural world. Very highly recommended.
Nature as Spiritual Practice Steven Chase (Eerdmans) $18.00 One of the deepest and most insightful studies of its kind, an innovative study on how we can seek God in nature, being transformed by attentiveness to the movements and seasons and wonders of creation. Chase weaves together historic contemplative practices and contemporary nature writers...a bit heavy, broad-ranging, profound.
A Field Guide to Nature as Spiritual Practice Steven Chase (Eerdmans) $8.00 A companion book to the above title, this practical resource gathers together additional contemplative exercises and "nature practices" to echo the theory and vision outlined in the primary text. Very nicely done, helpful for those looking for advanced, mature guidance.
Worship Feast Outdoors: 25 Experiences of God's Great Earth Jenny Youngman (Abingdon) $17.00 If you are going on an outdoors trip, especially if you are going with youth, don't leave without this exciting and innovative guide to four different sorts of outdoors worship experiences. These services include worship with water, worship with wonder, worship with awareness, and worship with the seasons. Very creative and quite useful.
A Hunter's Field Notes: Inspiring Stories of Meeting God in the Rugged Outdoors Jay Houston & Roger Medley (Harvest House) $10.99 Obviously, this is for hunters, who realize that there is more to hunting than just the harvest. This has some very helpful suggestions for learning how to tell your own stories, explaining your own adventures, your faith, and how unexpected incidents in the mountains have strengthened your own faith. Set mostly amidst the Rocky Mountains, hunting elk.
Devotions for Outdoor Adventures Larry Wiggins, Jack Harris & Amy Garascia (CreateSpace) $12.95 Created by friends who work in outdoor education, we are happy to promote this neat little paperback full of devotional thoughts from and for (as the subtitle puts it) "Backpackers, Hikers, Climbers, Canoeists, and Other Outdoor Enthusiasts." These are solid evangelical reflections on the Word and the world, inspiring, insightful and perfect for the outdoors. Handsome pen and ink drawings of cliffs, crags, birds, and such are themselves worth meditation upon.
God in the Yard: Spiritual Practice for the Rest of Us L.L. Barkat (T.S. Poetry Press) $15.00 This is a 12-week course described as "discovery and playing towards God." Barkat is a fine memoirist and poet and here offers delightful, hopeful, very thoughtful meditations, mostly about paying attention to the amazing world around us. One reviewer suggested it is a blend between spirituality writer Richard Foster and naturalist Annie Dillard---quite a compliment! Ann Voskamp notes she is a writer "with a poet's eye, arresting language and keen mind." Not about the wilderness or adventure expeditions, but she does invites us to"see" and experience God in creation (as in one excellent section, about "sky.")
An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith Barbara Brown Taylor (HarperOne) $14.99 This elegant and eloquent writer is honest, vivid, profound, about how faith is enhanced as we embodied practices of faithfulness which allow us to be attentive to God in daily living. Not all of this is about the out of doors, but some of it is; see especially her chapter about walking, another about physical labor ("The Practice of Carrying Water") and a splendid chapter called "Getting Lost." Wow.
Water, Wind, Earth, & Fire: The Christian Practice of Praying with the Elements Christine Valters Paintner (Sorin Books) $14.95 Organized around "The Canticle of the Creatures" by St. Francis of Assisi, this explores ways in which praying with the natural elements can enliven our Christian spiritual lives. The author is a Benedictine Oblate sister, a beautiful writer, and a mature thinker about faith and creation. Very useful as a guide to growing closer to God in nature, and, specifically, praying about our natural surroundings. Lovely.
When the Rain Speaks: Celebrating God's Presence in Nature Melannie Svoboda (Twenty-Third Publications) $12.95 Through this lovely collection of short devotions, Sister Melanie helps us experience God through His good creation, beholding the details of the glories there. As we notice and attend to that which is before our eyes, we can increasingly learn the habit of thankfulness and worship, deepening our contemplative walk in God's world. Very nice.
Cairn-Space N. Thomas Johnson-Medland (Resource Publications) $17.0 0 Tom has been involved in Christian camping and leading outdoor retreats for years, as a pastor and poet he knows well how to evoke our heart's desires and concerns. He calls these poems and essays "landmarks" which help us focus and remember God's faithfulness. The cover says this includes "poems, prayers, mindful amblings, about the places we wet aside for meaning, prayer, and the sacramental life..." Nice.
Bridges, Paths and Waters; Dirt, Sky, and Mountains N. Thomas Johnson-Medland (Resource Publications) $20.00 More reflections and poems by an expert Christian leader in camping and outdoors ministry. He calls this a "portable guided retreat on creation, awe, wonder, and radical amazement." Who doesn't long for greater gratitude and wonder? Who wouldn't benefit from ruminations on beauty and meaning in our lives?
Indescribable: Encountering the Glory of God in the Beauty of the Universe Louie Giglio & Matt Redman (Cook) $14.99 Neither author is a scientist or wilderness expert, but they have avocations in astronomy and use their instincts as worship leaders---preacher and musician, respectively--- to see God's great grace and glory in the wonder of things. There is some good natural science here, some basic astronomy that any outdoors-lover will appreciate, but it is mostly developed for the sake of devotion and praise. Wonderful.
Earth's Echo: Sacred
Encounters with Nature Robert
Hamma (Sorin) $15.95 The author is a very fine, meditative writer and a serious observer of all
sorts of aspects of God's good creation, and invites us in this small, quiet
book to attend to the holy ground around us. Called "awe-inspiring" by Annie Dillard. It is a beauty to hold, a square-sized paperback.
A Wild Faith: Jewish Ways into Wilderness, Wilderness Ways into Judaism Rabbi Mike Comins (Jewish Lights) $16.99 Although explicitly Jewish, even those who are not Jewish will find this to be quite interesting, insightful, and packed with ideas about meditative walking, wilderness blessings, solo solitude practices and other wilderness-savoring means of faith development. One reviewer said it is "part holy book, part handbook."
God in the Wilderness: Rediscovering the Spirituality of the Great Outdoors with the Adventure Rabbi Jamie Korngold (Three Rivers Press) $12.99 What a lovely book. We can rejoice that almost anyone, from evangelical Christians to those who don't see themselves as religious at all can learn much from Rabbi Korngold's creative thinking and engagement with the Hebrew Bible---and her great skills as outdoor educator and adventure trip facilitator. Very nice. And notice, "The Adventure Rabbi" is, in fact, a woman (in the Reform Judaism tradition.)
Renewal in the Wilderness: A Spiritual Guide to Connecting with God in the Natural World John Lionberger (Skylight Paths) $16.99 The opening story of this mid-life guy coming to experience God for the first time on a wilderness trek with Outward Bound is itself worth the price of the book. Lionberger, who had been thoroughly unchurched, found himself drawn to Christ and eventually became ordained, commissioned to help others experience God's presence in the outdoors. He brings an interfaith approach, from a mainline church setting, leading trips of various sorts. Lots of stories make this easy to read and nicely inspiring.
The Wisdom of Wilderness: Experiencing the Healing Power of Nature Gerald May (HarperOne) $13.99 May is a renowned spiritual director, a counselor and genteel, literary scholar. (He was often associated with his friends Parker Palmer and Henri Nouwan.) Who know he was an avid outdoorsman, and he writes here beautifully about how doing solo tenting trips--canoeing, encountering a bear, paying attention to creation's awe--helped him through a very difficult time in his life. Well written, profound, and enjoyable.
Spiritual Adventures in the Snow: Skiing and Snowboardering as a Renewal for Your Soul Dr. Marcia McFee & Rev. Karen Foster (Skylight Paths) $16.99 What a fascinating, fun book, making a case that fun in the outdoors is compatible with a growing faith. Each of the authors are serious outdoorswomen, and in each chapter they not only talk about their spiritual lives enhance by winter sports, but interview others. From edgy Christian writer Anne Lamott to Olympic medalists, this is packed with ideas, insights, faith-building exercises to be done on the slopes.
Fly-Fishing The Sacred Art: Casting a Fly as a Spiritual Practice Rabbi Eric Eisenkramer & Rev. Michael Attas (Skylight Paths) $16.99 Forget the jokes about a Rabbi and minister going into a bar; here they go out to streams, explaining the allure and spiritual potential, in fly fishing. Beautiful, interesting, informative, with describing things from tie flying to enjoying the flowing streams to working on river conservation. Lovely.
When the Trees Say Nothing: Writings on Nature by Thomas Merton edited and compiled by Kathleen Deignan, with sketches by John Giuliani (Sorin Books) $16.95 Thomas Merton is one of the most-respected Christian mystics of the 20th century, a prolific, humorous, intense Trappist monk who died in the late 60s and the environmental movement was taking off. These are writings of his, many from early in his career, when he wrote about the beauty of nature, God's presence in creation, and how to stand in silence and awe before the world.
The Green Bible Devotional: A Book of Daily Readings taken from The NRSV Green Bible (HarperOne) $14.99 Taken from the "Green Letter" New Revised Standard edition, this includes short meditations from a wide array of fine Christian thinkers, leaders, activists. Easy to carry --and very uplifting.
A Spiritual Field Guide: Meditations for the Outdoors Bernard Brady & Mark Neuzil (Brazos Press) $12.99 This may be our favorite daily devotional, outlined specifically for either day hikes or longer treks. This is Biblical, inspiration, offering Scripture and readings from classic Christian writers. Nicely done.
Meditations of John Muir: Nature's Temple complied by Chris Highland (Wilderness Press) $11.95 Most evangelicals may wish that Muir was a bit clearer about some things, but there is no doubt that he is a seminal figure in the great tradition of American wilderness writing, and his most spiritual musings about God, nature, and his reflections on many of the world's most sacred Scriptures are brief, nicely produced, and easy to carry into the woods.
Wilderness Time: A Guide for Spiritual Retreat Emilie Griffin (HarperOne) $14.00 Produced by Renovare, this is not about wilderness settings, but uses the metaphor of wilderness for any intentional spiritual retreat. Very useful.
OUTDOOR MEMOIRS AND NATURE WRITING
Permanent Vacation: Twenty Writers on Work and Life on Our National Parks edited by Kim Wyatt & Erin Bechtol (Bona Fide Books) $15.00 Beautiful and informative essays by park rangers, describing their work stewarding out parks, describing the natural beauty, from permafrost to petrified forests. This volume focuses on parks from the West.
Wisdom Chaser: Finding My Father at 14,000 Feet Nathan Foster (IVP) $16.00 The son of the famous spirituality writer (Richard Foster) has messed up his life, realizes he needs to reconsider his own lifestyle and faith commitments, and, mostly, must get to know his mysterious father. In a riveting mountain climbing memoir, father and son are reconciled and new beginnings are envisions. This is great reading for anyone who enjoys a good adventure tale; better for those wanting to see how God can use the stress of adventure experiences to rebuild relationships, trust, and hope. Highly recommended.
Surprises Around the Bend: 50 Adventurous Walkers edited by Richard Hasler (Augsburg) $14.99 Hasler is both a pastor and a hiker, and he has offered us this delightful gift: a compilation of various excerpts of the journals of many famous walkers (from Francis of Assisi to John Bunyan to Dietrich Bonhoeffer), their observations and insights, pleasures, adventures and, in many cases, spiritual insights. Arranged almost like a daily devotional: very nicely done.
The Way is Made By Walking: A Pilgrimage Along the Camino Santiago Arthur Boers (IVP) $16.00 Although this pilgrimage along the El Camino trail is more of a spiritual practice than an adventure trip, the insights gathered as the merry band of folk travel this ancient trail are fascinating. Not a few backpacking trips into the wilderness have used this as a study book. Includes a nice foreword by avid day hiker and Bible scholar Eugene Peterson.
Hiking Through: One Man's Journey to Peace and Freedom on the Appalachian Trail Paul Stutzman (Revell) $13.99 When this was self-published it became an underground classic, and we are happy to now have available this new edition. After Stutzman lost his wife from cancer, he heads out on the AT, realizing that a life-changing journey begins with a single step... God's grace and guidance become evident as the author tells of this 2,176 mile trip through 14 states. Good outdoor writing, fun adventure tales, but it is also about love, family, friendship, courage, discovery, healing, and finding God beyond the trailhead. A page-turner, offering solid faith and great insight.
AWOL on the Appalachian Trail David Miller (Mariner Books) $14.50 This author is known among AT hikers as he writes and updates the annual trail guide. This is his own memoir of his through-hike, recently re-issued, complete with all sorts of stories, insights, observations and suggestions for other backpackers. Considered one of the best.
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail Cheryl Strayed (Knopf) $25.95 One of the most talked about hiking memoirs in years, this is both spectacularly written and brilliantly conceived, as a woman who has truly made a mess of her life (heroin! promiscuity!) does an extended through-hike for which she is notably ill-prepared. She grieves the death from cancer of her hippy mother, her violent father, her own descent into remarkably bad choices, and how her life's journey took her to the rugged PCT. The writing is vivid, including some vulgarities a sex scene, so it may not be for everyone. Still, for those who appreciate such a hard and finally triumphant outdoor journey, it will thrill you (and perhaps remind you how long backpacking trips can be brutal, glorious, and profoundly transformative.)
Two in the Wild edited by Susan Fox Rogers (Vintage) $13.00 Women's outdoors adventure writing is nearly its own genre, and this is representative of some of the great stories, writing and insights offered by gutsy women who lace up their boots and head out to climb, hike, bike or travel all over the globe---together. Some of these are pretty fun, a few quite tender, all are very well written.
A Leaky Tent is a Piece of Paradise: 20 Young Writers on Finding a Place in the Natural World edited by Bonnie Tsui (Sierra Club Books) $19.99 This is not your father's nature writing or sportsman's guide. Here are edgy young writers doing essays about integrating nature into their lives, and how they struggle to balance travel and home, branching out and having roots, going far and eating local. Some are pretty outrageous, some inspiring, a couple pretty amazing. These short pieces are all by serious, under 30 writers, kicking back and telling it straight. Actually, it is pretty remarkable, although most are not at all religious.
Back to Earth: A Backpacker's Journey into Self and Soul Kerry Temple (Rowman & Littlefield) $16.95 This is a great memoir, a story of a mid-life life lost, and found. This eloquent book is the story of the author's return home. As brilliant essayist Scott Russell Sanders says, it is "a braiding together of remembered journeys and the new ones: from the Arctic to the desert Southwest, from the Big Horns of Wyoming to the woods of Indiana, always in search of the unnameable power that flows through every breath." Temple has been the editor of Notre Dame magazine, and has been published in Backpacker magazine.
Temple Stream: A Rural Odyssey Bill Roorbach (Dial Press) $14.00 Some of this is a wonderfully written memoir of the author trying to learn to appreciate his own small town in rural Maine. There are great blue herons and yellow birches, but there are equally colorful characters at the local diner and a whole bunch of run down properties and the stories behind them. He writes lovingly---National Geographic Explorer says it is "a marvel in a genre that's tough to master"---and his sense of place will make you homesick for Farmington, or a place like it. But here is why I list it now: Professor Roorbach is determined to explore a local stream from its mouth to its elusive source. He is a paddler, a nature writer, a curious explorer, and anyone who enjoys canoeing will surely love this grand, quiet book.
Out There: In The Wild in a Wired Age Ted Kerasote (Voyageur Press) $16.95 When this book came out, cell phones and facebook were not as ubiquitous as they are now, and the book was considered an excellent rumination on matters of remoteness and solitude (in an age "strangling from its cyberwires.") This is a sly look at important matters as he tells of a wilderness paddling trip (from the Canadian Northwest Territories to the Arctic Ocean) with a partner who wanted to stay in touch with those back home. Fascinating, and all the more urgent, today.
On The Ridge Between Life and Death: A Climbing Life Reexamined David Roberts (Simon & Schuster) $15.00 Jon Krakauer has exclaimed, "nobody alive writes better about mountaineering and its peculiar adherents than David Roberts, my mentor and friend..." And this is his best book, candid and unflinching, and offering a seasoned, sober account of the risks of the adventuresome life. Stunning and provocative.
Into the Wild Jon Krakauer (Anchor) $14.95 A serious and gripping reportage of a passionate adventurer, a mountaineer and outdoorsman who grew unhinged from society and died attempting to live off the grid. A sad warning of worldviews that are not viable and how passionate concerns can sometimes turn harmful.
Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster Jon Krakauer (Anchor) $15.00 It would be unthinkable to not list something of Krakauer on this list. He is a breathtaking storyteller, a bit of a philosopher, and a profound writer who has contributed much to this growing field.
Soul Survivor: A Spiritual Quest Through 40 Days and 40 Nights of Mountain Solitude Paul Hawker (Northstone) $15.95 A passionately honest account of a man--he described himself as "restless and rudderless"---trying honestly to hear the voice of God by going on a remarkable soul quest. Set in the treacherous Tararua Mountain range in New Zealand.
Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why Laurence Gonzales (Norton) $15.95 Gonzales has perhaps studied this topic, and interviewed more survivors of tragic accidents--from plane crashes in Peruvian wilderness to mountain climbing trips gone wrong---and was perplexed why some people (and some groups) found stamina and courage to endure, and who did not. This is by all accounts compelling reading, at times intense and even chilling. And, it is very important for anyone undertaking potentially life-threatening adventure trips. Recommended.
The Wilderness World of John Muir John Muir, edited by Edwin Teale (Mariner) $15.95 Teale has given us a marvelous way into the many writings of Muir, collecting some of the finer portions of several of his classics. Newly issues, with a very handsome cover, this is will be a beloved addition to any library of historic wilderness writing or adventure memoir.
Living on Wilderness Time: 200 Days Alone in America's Wild Places Melissa Walker (University of Virginia Press) $17.95 This heavy paperback is made well, rugged, I suppose, like the content. Here the author is one the road, on the loose, in the wilderness (as one reviewer noted.) She thinks and lives outside the boundaries, and has been likened to the glorious and influential writer Rick Bass. What an odyssey, this mid-life woman, setting out to discover adventure in order to discover life. Risky, solid, rare.
Nature and Walking Ralph Waldo Emerson & Henry David Thoreau (Beacon Press) $13.99 These two important essays in one lovely volume, illustrate this distinctively American, romantic view of the world and our observations of it. Nice to have these two together...
Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness Edward Abbey (Touchstone) $14.95 One of the great books of wilderness memoir in all of American literature, Abbey tells of his years as a park ranger in Utah. Mystical, candid, outspoken, he was an old time curmudgeon and radical naturalist, struck by his solitary life and the raw beauty of the red rock landscape.
Wind River Winter Virginia Stem Owens (Regent College Press) $19.95 This memoir is achingly beautiful as Stem Owens, one of our finest contemporary Christian writers (who is a keen observer of nature, and has written a previous book on quantum physics) takes us into the beauty and mystery of watching the world of the desolate Wind River mountains of Wyoming. Beautiful language, profoundly Christian, excellent insights or reality and grace in a fallen world.
Reading the Mountains of Home John Elder (Harvard University Press) $24.95 This is a splendid book, important and enjoyable on many levels. Firstly, it is a memoir of a set of day hikes near the author's beloved Vermont county. Elder is a professor of enviromental literature at Middlebury College, and he is actually doing a series of outdoor experiences following the general plot of a rare Robert Frost poem (which has him getting lost, building a canoe, etc.) As he hikes and observes both poem and landscape he concludes that it is important to know your own locale. This is, as he explains, a huge controversy within American nature writers, conservationists and modern moutaineers: must we always go "out West" for the dangerous, rugged terrain, or might there be (as Thoreau chided Muir) wilderness in less dramatic locations? This is an argument for finding joy in the local, taking up outdoor adventure wherever we are, and not necessarily presuming that the best experiences are the most dramatic or far-away. For anyone who loves well-written stories, a bit of poetry, some New England geological lessons, and a wonderful insight about "reading the mountains of home."
My Story as Told By Water David James Duncan (Sierra Club Books) $16.99 I hope you know his intriguing, spiritually-based, hilarious novel The River Why (about, among other things, fishing.) Here, in a series of chapters--some long and serious, some short and creatively crafted--the passionate writer tells of his love affair with creation, rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water. The subtitle reads: "Confessions, Druidic Rants, Reflections, Bird-watchings, Fish-stalkings, Visions, Songs and Prayers Refracting from Light, From Living Rivers, In the Age of the Industrial Dark." Oh yeah.
Riverwalking: Reflections on Moving Water Kathleen Dean Moore (Harcourt) $13.5 Moore is one of the great nature writers of our time. As Bill McKibben writes of its importance he says it is a "new kind of nature writing, one where the outdoors is in dialogue not only with our innermost souls but without families, our relationships, our lives. Something powerful is at work here." Moore is a professor of philosophy at Oregon State University and tells of her canoing, ocean kayaking, night paddling. She is luminous, moving, smart, and quite a rugged outdoors person.
Pine Island Paradox: Making Connections in a Disconnected World Kathleen Dean Moore (Milkweed Editions) $16.00 This is, quite simply, one of my all time favorite books, inspiring and moving, eloquent and profoundly insightful, even as she tells fabulous tales of her beloved hikes and camping trips and writing projects, conjuring up the beauty of nature, the meaning of the cosmos (she's a philsopher, after all) and her daily work as a college prof, mother, and wife, who lives in an ordinary neighborhood. Captivating and provocative and truly lovely, full of deep insight and wonder-full lines.
Wild Comfort: The Solace of Nature
Kathleen Dean Moore (Trumpteter) $15.95
Dense, rich, ruminations on the power of nature to console and comfort
us in times of grief and disruption.
It is both a naturalist's handbook and a memoir about her own hikes and
insights, full of wisdom and heavy truth, maturely written.
High Tide in Tucson: Essays from Now or Never Barbara Kingsolver (Harper) $13.00 Many readers enjoy the wonderful novels of Ms Kingsolver, but she is a gifted, passionate essayist, as well. These are delightful and challenging, informing us about details of nature, science, community and place. Theses are pieces to be savored and pondered and acted upon. Fabulous!
Lessons of the Wild: Learning from the Wisdom of Nature Edwin L. Anderson (Wipf & Stock) $19.00 This is a profound study of how we can find ourselves, especially during times of transition (as we age) as we take up our place in nature. The author is an expert wilderness coach, having spent years in the great parks of the American West. Drawing on classic nature writers and contemporary authors (like Gerald May and Parker Palmer) and some Christian spirituality (Merton and the like) he weaves his stories of growth and insight, found in the wisdom both strong and gentle from the wilderness.
Jesus, History, and Mt. Darwin: An Academic Excursion Rick Kennedy (Wipf & Stock) $14.00 Kennedy is a professor of history at Point Loma Nazarene University and here he gives us an extended essay in the genre of Thoreau's travel-thinking essays. It is the story of his three-day climb into the Evolution Range of the High Sierra mountains, nearly fourteen thousand feet. (Yes, the range is named after the famous evolutionary thinkers, and he is indeed climbing Mt. Darwin.) In this wide-ranging study, he ponders the meaning of education, the nature of his work as a Christian in higher education, the reliability of the claims of Jesus in the gospels, and, of course, natural history. A stunning reminder of humility, the importance of science, all told amidst a narrative of mountain climbing.
Sea Fire: Tales of Jesus and
Fishing Irene Martin (Crossroad) $19.95 This is really surprising, part detective
story, part Bible study, part cultural history of the fishing communities of
the Sea of Galilee. Martin is an
Episcopal priest, New Testament scholar and a life-long fisher in the Pacific
Northwest. A bit academic, but could be fun to read for those who love fishing.
Early Spring: An Ecologist and
Her Children Wake to a Warming World Amy Seidl (Beacon Press) $15.00 Beautifully written by a biologist mother ("with the mind of a
scientist and the heart of a mom.") This explores the intricacies of nature and its assault in her own
region, which and her family notice in their walks in the woods, their work in their garden and in conversations with their neighborhood. Eloquent, touching,
inspiring. It is beautiful how a person can notice so very much, and care so deeply.
Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters Annie Dillard (HarperCollins) $13.00 Not every nature writer has won a Pultizer Prize, and fewer have gotten back cover blurbs from the great Edward Abby, who likened her to Thoreau and Emily Dickinson. What a wide-ranging collection of thoughtful essays, mature, mysterious, interesting.
Holy the Firm Annie Dillard (HarperCollins) $13.00 Living on an island in the Puget Sound, this Pulitzer Prize winning author---raised a Presbyterian in Pittsburgh---ruminates on life, beauty, violence, creatures safe and wild. Called "a rare and precious book" by theologian Frederick Buechner in the New York Times.
For the Time Being Annie Dillard (Vintage) $13.95 Further essays by the exceptionally talented and profound philosopher, cultural critique and nature writer. Can we discover wonder in even the darkest and most remote of life's corners? One reviewer called her "a verbal street fighter in the back alley of the greatest human mystery." Well, maybe so, but she is an elegant one, at that.
Who Owns the Mountains? Classic Selections Celebrating the Joys of Nature Henry van Dyke (Northfield/Moody Press) $14.00 At the turn of the century that took us into the twentieth, Van Dyke was a literary star, especially known for his beautiful The Story of the Other Wise Man. A dedicated Christian and renowned outdoorsman, this collection offers his stories, poems, and essays of fishing for salmon in Quebec, experiencing the folk lands of Scotland, hiking the Franconia notch in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and more. Beautifully realized, pleasant and uplifting.
The View From Lazy Point: A Natural Year in an Unnatural World Carl Sanfino (Picador) $18.00 This award-winning work is considered one of the great books of natural history in the 21st century, upbeat, interesting, hopeful, even as he describes birds and water creatures all over the globe, fish and fowl whose habitats are threatened by global climate change. Sanfino waxes philsophical, a deeply caring, moral, and enjoyable scholar and outdoorsman, although he makes it clear that he does not believe God. Still, there is much inspiring here, and much enjoyable reading, especially for those who love birding or who enjoy lovely descriptions of beach and wetland ecology.
American Earth: Environmental Writings Since Thoreau Edited by Bill McKibben (Library of America) $40.00 I cannot tell you how solid this sturdy hardback is, with ribbon marker and solid pages full of the best nature writing of our recent centuries. Essential writings from Walt Whitman to John Muir, Frederick Law Olmsted to Teddy Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot; Aldo Leopold, John McPhee and Paul Hawkens and Buckminister Fuller. There are those who we ought to have on our shelves: E.B. White, John Steinbeck, Rachel Carson, Edward Abbey, Annie Dillard, and a few surprises (P.T. Barnum, Woody Guthrie, Lyndon Johnson, Philip K. Dick) and some contemporary classics such as Wendell Berry, Mary Oliver and Barbara Kingsolver. Happily, a few important theologians are included such as Cal DeWitt, a fine evangelical voice. The introduction to each writer's excerpt is exceptionally useful and are themselves an education in literature, science, ecology, and beauty. We cannot recommend this enough.
CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVES ON CREATION CARE
Remember Creation: God's World of Wonder and Delight Scott Hoezee (Eerdmans) $15.00 This is basically a set of sermons, but, oh, what delightful and well-crafted sermons they are! Without being overly political, Rev. Hoezee reminds us that the ecological crisis is at first theological: God loves the creation He made and things like species extinction take away some of the glory and delight that God desires. A moving, basic, book of solid Biblical reflections on why we should enjoy and care about the integrity of creation.
EarthWise: A Guide to Hopeful Creation Care Cal DeWitt (Faith Alive) $14.99 This is a fabulous, insightful, very useful Bible study guide with short chapters, incisive, rich ideas, and good study questions. The best little paperback study of it's kind, written by a legendary evangelical, scientists and outdoorsman. Recently updated. Great for studies on the trail or camp.
Green Like God: Unlocking the Divine Plan for Our Planet Jonathan Merrit (FaithWords) $16.99 Merrit is a popular young voice of engaging evangelical faith, an emerging leader in Southern Baptist circles, and a great voice for Biblical orthodoxy applied creatively to the environmental crisis. There are many books reflecting on environmental issues from a Christian perspective, and this is one of the best, most basic, and yet insightful ones. A great read! Highly recommended.
Making Peace with the Land: God's Call to Reconcile with Creation Fred Bahnson & Norman Wirzba (IVP) $15.00 This is part of the remarkable series of books about reconciliation published by IVP and Duke Divinity School's Center for Reconciliation. And it is truly one of the very best, a moving and nicely written study of God's reconciling work bringing together all things on heaven and Earth. From serious study of unsustainable agricultural practices to daily living in alternative communities, this splendid study helps us appreciate creation and embody stewardly lifestyles, aware of God's great care to bring healing to the land itself. Highly, highly recommended. Forward by Bill McKibben.
For the Beauty of the Earth: A Christian Vision for Creation Care Stephen Bouma-Predigar (BakerAcademic)
$25.00 This is, in our opinion, the
most important book yet done on a uniquely Christian perspective on the environmental crisis and the Biblical call to creation
care. Very thoughtful, serious,
and essential. A must-read for
anyone who cares for the earth and appreciates her beauty and wants a profound understanding of our times. Some of this is nearly poetic, but much is solid environmental science, informed by great Biblical insight. Bouma-Predigar is a popular teacher at Hope College.
Tending to Eden: Environmental Stewardship for God's People Scott Sabin (Judson Press) $18.00 Again, there are many great books on creation care, and we are listing just a few essential ones here. This is indeed one of the very best, bringing together various streams of thought from several disciplines, written with candor and great care. The author is an energetic leader, not the director of Plant with a Purpose, a Christian relief and development organization. Very highly recommended.
Green Revolution: Coming Together to Care for God's Creation Ben Lowe (IVP) $15.00 We suggest this for several reasons, one of which is that it shows the fabulous work being done in this field throughout the consortium of Christian Colleges and Universities schools. That is, there are fantastic examples of faith-based, evangelical activism from places like Wheaton, Messiah, Gordon, Calvin, Seattle Pacific and the like. Well written, informative, inspiring. A must!
The Gospel According to the Earth: Why the Good Book is a Green Book Matthew Sleeth (HarperOne) $22.99 Dr. Sleeth, of Asbury KY, is known for his great, little Serve God, Save the Planet (Zondervan; $14.99) and this is his more mature, ecumenical manifesto on why Christians simply must actively attend to and care for the beauties of the creation. There is some very insightful Biblical study here, and tons of great information.
Song of a Scientist: The Harmony of a God-Soaked Universe Cal DeWitt (Square Inch Books) $14.99 DeWitt has been an evangelical, Reformed voice in the movement for Christian creation-care for decades and in this recent book he shares his own faith, his love of Scripture, creation, enviromental science, and offers keen insights about how it is all integrated together. Very nice, insightful but not difficult reading at all. Highly recommended.
The Wonder of the Universe: Hints of God in Our Fine-Tuned World Karl Giberson (IVP) $16.00 One of the great scientists working in the Christian tradition (and co-founder of the BioLogos) is renowned for his Science & Religion Writing Workshops at Gordon College (and his much-debated book, Saving Darwin.) Here, like a detective sleuthing out the greatest mysteries of all, he shows how great scientists are exploring the wonders of nature. From modern cosmology to the history of science, from the beauty of the stars to the details of physics, this is a delightful, if serious, overview of how to see creation as the theater of God.
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