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Most of us can remember summer reading programs from our childhood. Trips to the library still linger in my mind, and the aroma of an old paperback — woody, smoky and earthy — remains just as enchanting today. But summer reading isn’t just for kids.
An often overlooked form of self-care, diving into a favorite or new book gives us an opportunity to unwind and dream of worlds beyond our own. In fact, research suggests that reading can boost our creativity, our memory and our open-mindedness. And if you opt for a tale about nature — another proven form of self-care — then you’ve got the ultimate grounding experience.
My dad recently wrote a book about his 50+ years of adventures. I have him to thank for my love of the great outdoors. One fond memory he recalls is our trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area when I was 13. My best friend, Brooke, came along, and our days were filled with rain, fishing, camp songs and endless mosquito bites. One night in the darkness of our tent, Brooke accidentally brushed her teeth with bug itch cream instead of toothpaste. We laughed our way through the rain after that. The BWCA has a way of humbling you, even if it’s from the itch cream and not the mosquitos. Reading about this trip gifted me with this wild memory once again. Here are 5 adventure-filled books to add to your summer reading list.
Readers can tag along on my dad’s touching journey of a lifetime of adventure. He shares stories of places visited, characters met and lessons learned through the great outdoors. From fishing with Grumpy Old Men star Jack Lemmon to honoring the great bird dogs who have stood by his side over the years, these tales will entertain and even tug at the heartstrings. It’s the perfect cabin read while swaying in the hammock.
This is a spectacular read on using nature for self-improvement. I have always loved the phrase “Get comfortable being uncomfortable,” as many of our personal and professional goals require some form of mental or physical stamina. Award-winning journalist Michael Easter seeks out off-the-grid experts to outline the many mind-body benefits of living on the edge of discomfort through the wilderness and how this can improve both health and happiness along the way.
Spending significant time in the state of Washington in recent years, I’ve grown to appreciate hiking more than ever. I love that this excellent form of exercise doesn’t require much gear. It does, however, require an open mind on how far and how high you can travel on foot. Each summer, I create a “take a hike” list of places I’d love to see. This book really helps narrow down a bucket list of the most beautiful hiking trails in the world.
Decorating my home with natural decor is soothing to my soul, and that includes coffee table books. Wanderlust USA is an alluring tome that’s filled with gorgeous photography and in-depth information about natural wonders around the globe. Sitting down with this book will take you on an ancient trail miles away from our technology-filled world, leaving you feeling at ease with every turn of the page.
It’s no secret that I have a tree obsession. I’m fascinated by their shapes, colors and leaves, and the intricate role they play in our ecosystem. Last summer while morel hunting with Gentleman Forager Mike Kempenich, I learned that trees communicate with fungi through a deep-rooted (pun intended) partnership called mycorrhiza that helps with plant nutrition and growth. Not only does this book explore the social network of trees, it also has beautiful forest imagery throughout. You’ll never look at a tree the same way again.
Laura Schara is a lifelong outdoor enthusiast and cohost of the TV series Minnesota Bound.