Books written and recommended by Astral's authors and athletes.

While summer is primetime for river trips, trails and wilderness adventures, it’s also always a great time for a good book. We reached out to a few of the authors in our community to collect our Summer Reading Guide with recommendations of books our community has written themselves, as well as what they recommend reading.

Blue Sky Kingdom book cover with a photo of a snow-capped mountain, puffy clouds, and a bright blue sky.
Bruce Kirkby

Blue Sky Kingdom

That journey was inspired by a profound sense of the valuable yet ephemeral chance to connect with my children while they were young, and how much was being stolen by modern busyness and distraction. As a “solution”, my wife and I traveled 97 days overland from British Columbia to the Kingdom of Zanskar, where we spent the next three months living in a Buddhist monastery, in an 8×8 earthen room with no power, running water or toilet.

Dolphin’s Tooth

My journey of leaving an engineering job as a young man, and over the next decade, creating a life centered on the wilderness. The instigating moment came shortly after graduating from Engineering Physics, when I was working in a cube farm by week, and guiding rafts on the Ottawa River each weekend. What became clear to me was the fact my weekends held about a million times more meaning than my weeks — and with no debt or obligations, I decided it would make eminently more sense to live a life where true meaning was found 24/7, not just on holidays. So I quit, and drove my rusty pickup west, into an unknown future… 

Bruce’s recommendations:

Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen

 An incredible journey into the Himalaya and soul of the author. Crystalline writing.

Rowing to Latitude by Jill Fredson

Jill and her husband Doug travel widely through arctic waters, rowing converted Necky sea kayaks. Exquisite observations and writing. 

Caught Inside by Daniel Duane

A lovely memoir of a young man’s year surfing the north California coast, while observing the natural world.

The Golden Spruce by John Vallient

A beautifully rendered true-life tale of passion and obsession, exploring forestry issues in the PNW.

Becoming Odyssa book cover with person standing in tree pose in front of a wilderness landscape with the sunsetting.
Jennifer Pharr Davis

Becoming Odyssa

My personal journal of hiking the 2190 mile Appalachian Trail as a 21 year old. It’s all about the transformative properties of nature and how spending time outdoors can make you a better person and a truer version of yourself.

The Pursuit of Endurance

The story of some of the most astounding long distance records and introduces you to the personalities who set these marks. It is a deep dive into what it takes to keep going and why it is important to push boundaries and test the limits of what is accepted. 

JPD’s recommendations:

Untamed by Will Harlan 

My all time fav. It chronicles the life of Carol Ruckdeschel, a self-taught naturalist and total BA who is a leading expert in sea turtle conservation.

Percy Jackson & the Olympians by Rick Riordan

A great family read that incorporates modern day adventure with Greek myths. 

Saltwater Specialty Flies book cover with a huge fish with teeth shown swimming in clear water.
Drew Chicone

Fly Tying Books

Whether you’re new to the craft of seasoned tier…I gotcha covered! My passion is teaching fly tyers of any skill level, learn how to tie, develop and improve their own fly patterns for all kinds of different fish! All my fly tying books have ultra close-up shots and hi-res photography that makes it easy to follow along. I like to go with larger photos too, only one or two photos per page to illuminate the ideas, materials and techniques. 

Top Saltwater Flies (3 Book Set)

These three gorgeous volumes comprise more than 900 eye-popping color pages. In large, clear, step-by-step photos with easy-to-follow instructions, I teach you how to tie the very latest in the most effective flies for bonefish, tarpon and permit.

Drew’s recommendations:

A Land Remembered by Patrick Smith

The story of three generations of a Florida family who battle the hardships of the frontier to rise from a dirt-poor life to the wealth and standing of real estate tycoons.

Lords of the Fly by Monte Burke

Madness, Obsession, and the Hunt for the World Record Tarpon.

The Flavor Matrix: The Art and Science of Pairing Common Ingredients to Create Extraordinary Dishes by James Briscoine

A revolutionary new guide to pairing ingredients, based on a famous chef’s groundbreaking research into the chemical basis of flavor.

Hound of the Sea book cover with Garrett McNamara surfing the 100 foot wave at Narzare.
Garrett McNamara

Hound of the Sea

A personal, emotional and intimate look at the enigmatic pursuit of riding waves, big and small. It’s about vanquishing fears and defeating obstacles past and present. A record of perseverance, passion, and healing.

Garrett’s recommendations:

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra

Basically my bible. I read it over and over whenever I think of it or am going into an important moment / situation in life. Keeps me grounded, grateful and opened to all possibilities.

I Forgot To Die by Khalil Rafati,

Just inspiring, real and raw. When I need a reminder that everything is actually possible and it’s never too late to follow your dreams and change your life.

Secrets of A Yogi by Charles F. Haanel

Great secrets for a peaceful present life.

Adventure Ready book cover with text and a clip of Katie Gerber hiking and a clip of a mountain scape image.
Katie Gerber

Adventure Ready: A Hiker’s Guide to Planning, Training, and Resiliency 

Designed to prepare readers for their first, or their next, long hike. It includes detailed chapters on planning, gear selection, physical training, trail nutrition, health resiliency, navigation, backcountry safety, mental preparation, and how to adapt to life once you return from your hike. My goal with this book was to share what I’ve learned during thousands of miles of backpacking to help readers get outside safely and confidently so they can enjoy all the benefits that come from extended time in nature.

Katie’s recommendations: 

Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner

For readers who want to gain a greater understanding of land development and water management in the American West.

The Emerald Mile by Kevin Fedarcko

For not only an engaging narrative about a speed run through the Grand Canyon, but also for a deeper understanding of the political and geological history of the canyon and surrounding area.

Related stories