5 Must-Read Books about Adventurous Women

Jul 21, 2015

5 Must-Read Books About Adventurous Women | www.nalumana.com

There is nothing more satisfying than living vicariously fueling your inspiration for adventure by reading about those of others.  Here are a few of my all-time favourite adventure reads (you know, the ones that remain on my bookshelf, year after year, to be read over and over again) to stoke your imagination and quicken your pulse this summer.

Tales of a Female Nomad:  Living at Large in the World

I read this book years and years ago, and it has followed me around from one life stage to the next, its message of major transitions as catalysts for living a more adventurous life never lost on me as I journey along.  Rita Golden Gelman tells the story of her divorce at the age of forty-eight, and the subsequent decision she makes to live the life of a modern-day nomad, traveling the world.  A natural at immersing herself in other cultures, and especially among women, Gelman tells of her travels to Mexico, the Galapagos, Borneo, and beyond. 

Icebound:  A Woman’s Survival at the South Pole

This is the riveting story of Jerri Nielsen, a physician who opted to practice for a year at a research station in Antarctica, where she was responsible for the health of all those who worked on location.  Not long after arriving there, she found a lump in her breast.  After doing her own biopsy, Nielsen discovered that she had cancer that needed to be treated, but there was no way in or out of the remote research station during the difficult Antarctic winters.  This is a true story of an incredibly courageous woman that you won’t be able to put down. 

Swimming to Antarctica

So, I have a bit of a fascination with Antarctica, perhaps…but I can never pass up a book about long distance swimming.  This one, written by accomplished marathon swimmer and writer Lynne Cox, tells of her swimming career, which includes a record-breaking 25 minute swim in the Antarctic Ocean.  This book will immerse you, quite literally, in the strange and wonderful world of open water swimming, and perhaps even inspire you to do something “impossible.”

Up:  A Mother and Daughter’s Peakbagging Adventure

This book by Patricia Ellis Herr came along at exactly the right time in my life:  I flipped its pages not long after having my first child, when I sat up nights wondering if I would ever get my adventurous lifestyle back, and how I might include my daughter in my escapades.  This story is about Patricia’s solution to an overly energetic five-year-old: to attempt climb all 48 of New Hampshire’s highest peaks.  The quest instilled an insatiable love of hiking in her daughter, and taught her valuable lessons about trusting your body, accomplishing goals, and much more.  Up is an inspirational read for all adventure parents. 


As if Oprah and Reese Witherspoon didn’t make Cheryl Strayed’s book popular enough…but I have to mention this book here because it is truly a wonderful read.  Telling of Strayed’s quest to hike the Pacific Coast Trail one summer and of the physical, emotional and psychological hurdles she overcame to do it, Wild is beautifully written, compelling, and deeply touching.

Chasing Waves

My list wouldn’t be complete without a surf book, and although I’ve not yet finished reading this one, it already promises to be a great read.  It’s the story of Amy Waeschle and her development as a surfer, taking us from her first attempts at catching waves in Washington and Mexico, and following her from one surf destination to the next around the world.