Best Women’s Adventure Books in 2021 [Inspirational Female Adventurers]

Welcome to our continually-evolving list of what we consider to be the BEST women’s adventure books… EVER! We’ve been compiling this list based on books we have read and also books that our trusted community of adventure lovers rate very highly.

These female adventurers write about their experiences in a way that will inspire you to explore more and become a stronger adventurer because of it.

Mind of a Survivor: What the wild has taught me about survival and success

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I’ll leave you with this one piece of wise advice from Megan, which is highly relevant to our experience and development as trail runners and adventurers.

“THE MORE WE ARE EXPOSED TO SITUATIONS THAT CHALLENGE US AND MAKE US FEARFUL, THE MORE WE DEVELOP THE SKILLS AND COPING MECHANISMS TO FACE THOSE CHALLENGES, THEREBY REDUCING OUR FEARS… IF YOU EVER FIND YOURSELF IN THE SAME PLACE AGAIN, IT WON’T SEEM NEARLY SO TOUGH”.

My Journey to Lhasa: The Classic Story of the Only Western Woman Who Succeeded in Entering the Forbidden City

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An exemplary travelogue of danger and achievement by the Frenchwoman Madame Alexandra David–Neel of her 1923 expedition to Tibet, the fifth in her series of Asian travels, and her personal recounting of her journey to Lhasa, Tibet's forbidden city.

In order to penetrate Tibet and reach Lhasa, she used her fluency of Tibetan dialects and culture, disguised herself as a beggar with yak hair extensions and inked skin and tackled some of the roughest terrain and climate in the World. With the help of her young companion, Yongden, she willingly suffered the primitive travel conditions, frequent outbreaks of disease, the ever–present danger of border control and the military to reach her goal.

The determination and sheer physical fortitude it took for this woman, delicately reared in Paris and Brussels, is inspiration for men and women alike.

David–Neel is famous for being the first Western woman to have been received by any Dalai Lama and as a passionate scholar and explorer of Asia,...

Taking on the World : A Sailor's Extraordinary Solo Race Around the Globe

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A young woman describes her participation in the 2001 Vendee Globe, a single-handed, nonstop voyage around the world, in a powerful memoir of her experiences at sea. 35,000 first printing.

Becoming Odyssa: Adventures on the Appalachian Trail

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After graduating from college, Jennifer isn't sure what she wants to do with her life. She is drawn to the Appalachian Trail, a 2175-mile footpath that stretches from Georgia to Maine. Though her friends and family think she's crazy, she sets out alone to hike the trail, hoping it will give her time to think about what she wants to do next. The next four months are the most physically and emotionally challenging of her life. She quickly discovers that thru-hiking is harder than she had imagined: coping with blisters and aching shoulders from the 30-pound pack she carries; sleeping on the hard wooden floors of trail shelters; hiking through endless torrents of rain and even a blizzard. With every step she takes, Jennifer transitions from an over-confident college graduate to a student of the trail, braving situations she never imagined before her thru-hike. The trail is full of unexpected kindness, generosity, and humor. And when tragedy strikes, she learns that she can depend on...

Learning to Fly: A Memoir of Hanging On and Letting Go

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WITH A NEW EPILOGUE BY THE AUTHOR

World-class free climber Steph Davis delivers a “thrilling and infectiously interesting” (San Francisco Book Review) memoir about rediscovering herself through love, loss, and the joy of letting go. The paperback includes a new epilogue in which Davis shares how her husband’s tragic accident has affected her relationship to climbing and flying.
Steph Davis is a superstar in the climbing community and has ascended some of the world’s most awe-inspiring peaks. But when her husband makes a controversial climb in a national park, the media fallout—and the toll it takes on her marriage—suddenly leaves her without a partner, a career, a source of income…or a purpose.

In the company of only her beloved dog, Fletch, Davis sets off on a search for a new identity and discovers skydiving. Falling out of an airplane is completely antithetical to the climber’s control she’d practiced for so long, but she perseveres, turning each daring jump into an opportunity...





A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains

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Best Women's Adventure Books in 2021 [Inspirational Female Adventurers] 25 - Trail and Kale | Trail Running & Adventure

In 1872, Isabella Bird, daughter of a clergyman, set off alone to the Antipodes 'in search of health' and found she had embarked on a life of adventurous travel. In 1873, wearing Hawaiian riding dress, she rode her horse through the American Wild West, a terrain only newly opened to pioneer settlement. The letters that make up this volume were first published in 1879. They tell of magnificent, unspoiled landscapes and abundant wildlife, of encounters with rattlesnakes, wolves, pumas and grizzly bears, and her reactions to the volatile passions of the miners and pioneer settlers. A classic account of a truly astounding journey.

End of the Rope: Mountains, Marriage, and Motherhood

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"Cheryl Strayed, move over: End of the Rope is a rambunctious, funny, heartstopping memoir that carries us along on an electric current of risk and courage." ―Marni Jackson, Mountain and Wilderness Writing Program, Banff Centre, and author of The Mother Zone
In this funny and gritty debut memoir, Jan Redford grows from a nomadic rock climber to a mother who fights to win back her future.

As a teenager, in a fit of rage toward her father, Jan pits herself against a steep rock face near their cottage. At the top, fired up by the victory, she sets her sights on the improbable dream of climbing mountains. By age twenty, she’s a nomadic climber with a magnetic attraction to misadventures and the wrong men.

Jan finally finds the love of her life, an affable Rockies climber. When he is killed in an avalanche in Alaska, a grieving Jan finds comfort in the arms of another extreme alpinist. Before long, they are married, with a baby on the way. While her husband works as a logger and...

Alone in Antarctica

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In the whirling noise of our advancing technological age, we are seemingly never alone, never out-of-touch with the barrage of electronic data and information.
Felicity Aston, physicist and meteorologist, took two months off from all human contact as she became the first woman -- and only the third person in history – to ski across the entire continent of Antarctica alone. She did it, too, with the simple apparatus of cross-country, without the aids used by her prededecessors – two Norwegian men – each of whom employed either parasails or kites.
Aston’s journey across the ice at the bottom of the world asked of her the extremes in terms of mental and physical bravery, as she faced the risks of unseen cracks buried in the snow so large they might engulf her and hypothermia due to brutalizing weather. She had to deal, too, with her emotional vulnerability in face of the constant bombardment of hallucinations brought on by the vast sea of whiteness, the lack of stimulation to her senses...



All That Glitters: A Climber's Journey Through Addiction and Depression

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In "All That Glitters: A Climber's Journey through Addiction and Depression," world-class ice climber Margo Talbot shares her compelling story of healing and self-discovery amid the frozen landscapes of the planet. Rescued from the depths of drug addiction and crime by the lure of climbing frozen waterfalls, Margo rises from the brink of suicidal depression in a jail cell to being envied by a client in Antarctica for having a "dream life."

Rowing to Latitude: Journeys Along the Arctic's Edge

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Jill Fredston has traveled more than twenty thousand miles of the Arctic and sub-Arctic-backwards. With her ocean-going rowing shell and her husband, Doug Fesler, in a small boat of his own, she has disappeared every summer for years, exploring the rugged shorelines of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Spitsbergen, and Norway. Carrying what they need to be self-sufficient, the two of them have battled mountainous seas and hurricane-force winds, dragged their boats across jumbles of ice, fended off grizzlies and polar bears, been serenaded by humpback whales and scrutinized by puffins, and reveled in moments of calm.

As Fredston writes, these trips are "neither a vacation nor an escape, they are a way of life." Rowing to Latitude is a lyrical, vivid celebration of these northern journeys and the insights they inspired. It is a passionate testimonial to the extraordinary grace and fragility of wild places, the power of companionship, the harsh but liberating reality of risk, the lure of...

Miles from Nowhere: A Round the World Bicycle Adventure

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* A well-loved, classic tale of adventure
* Read this and you'll find yourself recommending it to friends again and again

This is the story of Barbara and Larry Savage's sometimes dangerous, often zany, but ultimately rewarding 23,000 miles global bicycle odyssey, which took them through 25 countries in two years. Miles From Nowhere is an adventure not to be missed!
Along the way, these near-neophyte cyclists encountered warm-hearted strangers eager to share food and shelter, bicycle-hating drivers who shoved them off the road, various wild animals (including a roof ape and an attack camel), sacred cows, rock-throwing Egyptians, overprotective Thai policeman, motherly New Zealanders, meteorological disasters, bodily indignities, and great personal joys. The stress of traveling together constantly for two years tested and ultimately strengthened the young couple's relationship.
As their trip ends you'll find yourself yearning for Barbara and Larry to mount back up and keep pedaling....







Reclaimers

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For most of the past century, Humbug Valley, a forest-hemmed meadow sacred to the Mountain Maidu tribe, was in the grip of a utility company. Washington's White Salmon River was saddled with a fish-obstructing, inefficient dam, and the Timbisha Shoshone Homeland was unacknowledged within the boundaries of Death Valley National Park.
Until people decided to reclaim them.
In Reclaimers, Ana Maria Spagna drives an aging Buick up and down the long strip of West Coast mountain ranges―the Panamints, the Sierras, the Cascades―and alongside rivers to meet the people, many of them wise women, who persevered for decades with little hope of success to make changes happen. In uncovering their heroic stories, Spagna seeks a way for herself, and for all of us, to take back and to make right in a time of unsettling ecological change.

Runner: A short story about a long run

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Scared witless and surrounded by a sea of people, Lizzy Hawker stands in the church square at the centre of Chamonix on a late August evening, waiting for the start of the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc.

The mountains towering over the pack of runners promise a grueling 8,600 metres of ascent and descent over 158 kilometres of challenging terrain that will test the feet, legs, heart and mind.

These nervous moments before the race signal not just the beginning of nearly twenty-seven hours of effort that saw Lizzy finish as first woman, but the start of the career of one of Britain's most successful endurance athletes. She went on to become the 100km Women's World Champion, win the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc an unprecedented five times, hold the world record for 24 hours road running and become the first woman to stand on the overall winners' podium at Spartathlon.

An innate endurance and natural affinity with the mountains has led Lizzy to push herself to the absolute limits, including a...

Tracks: A Woman's Solo Trek Across 1700 Miles of Australian Outback

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NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE
Robyn Davidson's opens the memoir of her perilous journey across 1,700 miles of hostile Australian desert to the sea with only four camels and a dog for company with the following words: “I experienced that sinking feeling you get when you know you have conned yourself into doing something difficult and there's no going back."
Enduring sweltering heat, fending off poisonous snakes and lecherous men, chasing her camels when they get skittish and nursing them when they are injured, Davidson emerges as an extraordinarily courageous heroine driven by a love of Australia's landscape, an empathy for its indigenous people, and a willingness to cast away the trappings of her former identity. Tracks is the compelling, candid story of her odyssey of discovery and transformation. 
 
“An unforgettably powerful book.”—Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild
 
Now with a new postscript by Robyn Davidson.

High Infatuation: A Climber's Guide to Love and Gravity

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* A collection of vivid, intimate essays and prose poetry on the universal themes of life, love, friendship, personal empowerment, and more, told through a career in climbing
* 40 percent of these pieces debut here for the first time
* Davis has been profiled in publications including Outside, Men's Journal, W Magazine, and Sports Illustrated.
Throughout her life, Steph Davis has chosen to take risks, to trust her impulses, to make decisions based on what feels right inside -- and never look back. Studying to be a concert pianist, she quit music the day she was introduced to rock climbing. Later, she abandoned the respectability of university life and pursuit of a law degree to become a "dirtbag climber," living out of her grandmother's hand-me-down Oldsmobile sedan with Fletcher, a heeler mix dog. Today, through courage and perseverance, Davis is a high-profile athlete whose sponsors have included Patagonia, Mammut, Clif Bar, Five Ten and Cascade Designs.
In High Infatuation, Davis...






Lands of Lost Borders: A Journey on the Silk Road

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"Lands of Lost Borders is illuminating, heart-warming, and hopeful in its suggestion that we will explore not to conquer but to connect."Booklist (starred review)

"Lands of Lost Borders carried me up into a state of openness and excitement I haven’t felt for years. It’s a modern classic."—Pico Iyer

A brilliant, fierce writer, and winner of the 2019 RBC Taylor Prize, makes her debut with this enthralling travelogue and memoir of her journey by bicycle along the Silk Road—an illuminating and thought-provoking fusion of The Places in Between, Lab Girl, and Wild that dares us to challenge the limits we place on ourselves and the natural world.

As a teenager, Kate Harris realized that the career she craved—to be an explorer, equal parts swashbuckler and metaphysician—had gone extinct. From what she could tell of the world from small-town Ontario, the likes of Marco Polo and Magellan had mapped the whole earth; there was nothing left to be discovered. Looking beyond this planet, she...

Paddling My Own Canoe: A Solo Adventure On the Coast of Molokai

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Go Simple, Go Solo, Go Now

In 1958, while flying from one island to another, Audrey Sutherland sees the remote and roadless northeast side of Molokai, with its spectacular sea cliffs and waterfalls. Always an adventurer, she decides that she must find a way to explore this then inaccessible area. After much study, she determines that the best way for her to navigate these treacherous sea walls is to swim while towing an inflatable kayak. This is the story of fulfilling her dream, of planning then implementing, of launching and advancing, of retreating and reconnoitering, of challenge and success. This is the story of the trip that convinced her that personal growth comes when one goes simple, goes solo, goes now.

The Valleys of the Assassins: and Other Persian Travels

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Hailed as a classic upon its first publication in 1934, The Valleys of the Assassins firmly established Freya Stark as one of her generation's most intrepid explorers. The book chronicles her travels into Luristan, the mountainous terrain nestled between Iraq and present-day Iran, often with only a single guide and on a shoestring budget.
Stark writes engagingly of the nomadic peoples who inhabit the region's valleys and brings to life the stories of the ancient kingdoms of the Middle East, including that of the Lords of Alamut, a band of hashish-eating terrorists whose stronghold in the Elburz Mountains Stark was the first to document for the Royal Geographical Society. Her account is at once a highly readable travel narrative and a richly drawn, sympathetic portrait of a people told from their own compelling point of view.
This edition includes a new Introduction by Jane Fletcher Geniesse, Stark's biographer.

Climbing Free: My Life in the Vertical World

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The memoirs of the woman rock climber who was the first person to accomplish a "free ascent" of the Nose on Yosemite's El Capitan describe her early days as a Hollywood stunt artist, friendships with other climbers, near-fatal eighty-foot fall, and personal strategies. 35,000 first printing.

Women on High: Pioneers of Mountaineering

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In a time when a woman¿s sphere was decidedly limited to hearth and family, a number of courageous women were stepping out, stepping up, and making history far from the comforts of the homefire. Mountaineering¿s early days found male climbers garnering praise and admiration for daring summit ascents while women were relegated to the role of faithful observers. But not all women were satisfied with the view from the valley¿ many yearned for the thrill of gazing down on the world from the peaks of Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn, and Mount Washington. In this exciting addition to the literature of mountaineering, journalist Rebecca Brown chronicles the lives and achievements of inspiring women who not only followed in the footsteps of their male counterparts, but often surpassed them. Brown explores the motivations that led such women as Annie Smith Peck, Lucy Walker, and Meta Brevoort to ignore convention, criticism, and censure to become accomplished, respected outdoorswomen whose...

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

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#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.
One of the Best Books of the Year: NPR, The Boston GlobeEntertainment Weekly, Vogue, St. Louis Dispatch 

Pure Land: A True Story of Three Lives, Three Cultures and the Search for Heaven on Earth

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Pure Land is the story of the most brutal murder in the history of the Grand Canyon and how McGivney's quest to investigate the victim's life and death wound up guiding the author through her own life-threatening crisis. On this journey stretching from the southern tip of Japan to the bottom of Grand Canyon, and into the ugliest aspects of human behavior, Pure Land offers proof of the healing power of nature and of the resiliency of the human spirit.

Tomomi Hanamure, a Japanese citizen who loved exploring the rugged wilderness of the American West, was killed on her birthday May 8, 2006. She was stabbed 29 times as she hiked to Havasu Falls on the Havasupai Indian reservation at the bottom of Grand Canyon. Her killer was an 18-year old Havasupai youth named Randy Redtail Wescogame who had a history of robbing tourists and was addicted to meth. It was the most brutal murder ever recorded in Grand Canyon’s history. Annette McGivney covered the tragedy for Backpacker magazine where she...

Where the Mountain Casts Its Shadow: The Dark Side of Extreme Adventure

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Without risk, say mountaineers, there would be none of the self-knowledge that comes from pushing life to its extremes. For them, perhaps, it is worth the cost. But when tragedy strikes, what happens to the people left behind? Why would anyone choose to invest in a future with a high-altitude risk-taker? What is life like in the shadow of the mountain? Such questions have long been taboo in the world of mountaineering. Now, the spouses, parents and children of internationally renowned climbers finally break their silence, speaking out about the dark side of adventure. Maria Coffey confronted one of the harshest realities of mountaineering when her partner Joe Tasker disappeared on the Northeast Ridge of Everest in 1982. In Where the Mountain Casts Its Shadow, Coffey offers an intimate portrait of adventure and the conflicting beauty, passion, and devastation of this alluring obsession. Through interviews with the world's top climbers, or their widows and families-Jim Wickwire,...

Wild Fierce Life: Dangerous Moments on the Outer Coast

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Wild Fierce Life is a heart-stopping collection of true stories from the Pacific Coast that build a vivid portrait of life on the continental edge and one woman’s evolving place within it.

Author Joanna Streetly arrived on the west coast of Vancouver Island when she was nineteen, and soon adapted to the challenges of working on boats of all sorts, guiding multi-day wilderness kayak trips along the BC coast, and living in remote situations often without electricity or running water.

From a near-death experience while swimming at night to an enigmatic encounter with a cougar, these stories capture the joys and dangers of living in a wild environment. Streetly’s vivid storytelling evokes a sincere respect for nature, both its fragility and its power.

Full of unflinching self-examination and a fidelity to the landscape of Vancouver Island’s outer coast, these stories reveal the interplay between inner and outer landscapes―the evolution of a woman uncovering the pleasures and dangers...


Why Not Try Audible Instead: A word about using Audible to read/listen as Audiobooks

If you’ve never tried Audible or haven’t got into audiobooks before, I highly recommend signing up for a free trial! The biggest advantages of using Audible to listen to books, rather than reading them, are that:

  • Get a FREE book. When you sign up for a free trial of Audible, you get 1 free audiobook + 2 free Audible Originals to get you started. After 30 days of your free trial, you get 1 audiobook and 2 Audible Originals each month for $14.95/mo. If you decide to cancel online at anytime, you get to keep all your audiobooks.
  • Listening to someone narrate the book can be more impactful than reading written words, especially for books in the self-help genre that may need some verbal emphasis to bring the key points to the forefront
  • You can listen to audiobooks and get your fix of motivational self-improvement books while doing other things – boring things that don’t otherwise enhance your life, such as commuting, and doing household chores. This has the double-impact of firstly inspiring you to make changes to your life, and secondly reminding you that perhaps you could be doing less commuting, cleaning, etc if you followed through on some of the life-changing ideas you may be sitting on rather than acting on them
  • You can consume information quickly. If you like to consume information fast, you can actually playback the audiobooks faster than just 1x speed. The faster you play them back, the more the narrator will sound like a chipmunk, but the benefit is you can absorb more information SO much faster than reading a book, or even listening to one at normal speed for that matter.
  • Audible is always with you… If you have your phone with you, you have your audiobooks with you, no need to carry a book or bigger device around.
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5 COMMENTS

  1. Hello! Can I ask you to consider reviewing this latest addition to the world of female adventure literature….

    Everything You Ever Taught Me by Person Irresponsible.

    Fat, funny, forty-something British female and recovering alcoholic decides to walk across America. Realises very quickly she’s made a huge mistake…Then the pandemic strikes…

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