Great Books for the Outdoorsman

I love to read good books.  Books take me to places I may never be able to visit in my lifetime.  Books inspire me to rush outside and experience the best nature has provided.  My bond with books is probably what led me into writing.  Now, in my own small way, I’m hopefully bringing others pleasure and taking them to places they could not have imagined.

Below, I’ve listed 14 books which I highly recommend for the outdoorsman or sportsman.  These books contain elements of adventure, inspiration, history, courage, and bravery.  Some are classics and some are not so well known.  Except for a few, I can’t claim them all to be Christian works, but they do portray man’s toil with nature, and his inner drive to subdue the world.  Nature’s not always the beautiful and perfect place we’d like it to be.  Sometimes it shows its darker side.  It can leave us feeling small and frail.  Then we are reminded of a better world beyond.

Here’s the list:

A Look at Life from a Deer Stand by Steve Chapman

Outdoors with God by Lance Moore

Hooked for Life by Jimmy Houston

The Wilderness Hunter by Theodore Roosevelt

Hunting the Grisly and Other Sketches by Theodore Roosevelt

Hunt with Fred Bear by Dick Lattimer

Call of the Wild by Jack London

White Fang by Jack London

The Old Man and the Sea by Earnest Hemingway

Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose

The Man-Eaters of Tsavo by J.H. Patterson

Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley and Livingstone by Martin Dugard

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

As I was building this list, it occurred to me that I’d overlooked a very important book—the Bible. That’s right—but I think this one stands on its own.  The Bible is replete with stories about outdoorsmen—nomads, farmers, shepherds, hunters, fishermen, archers, campers, hikers, etc.  God amazingly uses illustrations from His own creation to reveal the spirit world and His principles—water, earth, fire, animals, wind, blood, plants, landscape, celestial objects, etc.  God has interacted with man through the outdoors and has shown us His glory—creation, the flood, the burning bush, parting the Red Sea, closing the mouth of lions, multiplying fish, walking on water, controlling the weather, catching fish, Bethlehem’s Star, etc.

Thank you, God for revealing yourself to us through your creation and through your Word.  Thank you for the world you’ve given us.  Continue to show us your ways and your will.

“The Heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.”  Psalm 19:1

How about you?  Do you have some inspiring outdoor books you’d like to add to the list?

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11 Responses to Great Books for the Outdoorsman

  1. pastorjeffcma says:

    I’m feeling very pleased with myself since I am nothing close to an outdoorsman and yet have read a few of the books on your list. 🙂 Of course the classics–“Call of the Wild,” “White Fang,” “Old Man and the Sea”–although since they are classics they may not really count. I loved “A Walk in the Woods” (I may have a secret fantasy of actually walking the trail some day). I listened to “Undaunted Courage” (does that count?). Since I lived in Pennsylvania (deer hunting capitol of the world) I have seen Chapman’s book on so many coffee table that I feel like I have read it. Great list! Thanks.

    • Pastor Jeff … thanks for the comments. I listened to Undaunted Courage on CD so, yes, it counts. Very interesting book. I saw your post on the Civil War reading lists. I wanted to list Red Badge of Courage here, but wasn’t sure it fell in the Outdoorsman category. It certainly comes close.

  2. Ed Smith says:

    I’d say Tolkien’s books are quite outdoorsy. Though they may not be clearly Christian on the surface, Tolkien was a genuine Christian and I think something very good and Christian comes through.

    His friend, C. S. Lewis wrote some pretty outdoorsy fiction. The action in Narnia takes place mostly in the outdoors. Also, the first two books in his space trilogy are very outdoorsy. I think it’s clear that he liked the outdoors. I recall in The Great Divorce him saying that, when in the heavenly realm, he felt like he had got outdoors in a greater way than ever before.

  3. Mildred Aenchbacher says:

    I have read some of the books you listed, but none come close the the Bible. If it were not for his beautiful creation we could not imagine the beauty in the books “White Fang”, or “The Call of the Wild.” I have also seen the movies and seen the beauty of His Majesty.

  4. Thanks Mim … Those are 2 of my favorites. You are right about the creation–wouldn’t have any of these books if it weren’t for God.

  5. Ed Smith says:

    Of course, you are right in pointing out that the creation tells us of God. Therefore, anyone who writes well of the natural world helps us see its witness of its Creator whether the writer is consciously aware of this or not.

    • Very good point! Yes, I thought about Jack London. Even though I don’t believe he was a devout Christian, he certainly described the struggle and brutality found in nature–a fallen world.

  6. Pingback: Recapping 2011 | Trails of Life

  7. outdoors1 says:

    Great list Sir, thanks for sharing! One of my “outdoorsy” favorites is the The Old Man and The Boy by Robert Ruark. It’s a great story about a boy growing up hunting and fishing with his grandfather. It especially reminded me of my own childhood. I would definatly reccomend it!
    Thanks again for taking the time to share, God bless you!

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