Recommended Reading


We like books.

There are a few books that are good enough that we read them over and over. Some of them even made their way into the Casita for a summer on the road. The following list includes some of our favorites, organized by topic.

This page is a work in progress. We’ll add titles over time, so if you like the list, you might want to check in occasionally for updates.

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Brian and Cristi

Outdoor Skills and Industry
Beyond Backpacking: Ray Jardines Guide to Lightweight Hiking. Ray Jardine.
The original iconoclastic manual of ultralight backpacking. Skills instead of gear. Essential reading.

Outward Bound Wilderness First Aid Handbook. Jeffery Isaac.
Based largely on the WMA Wilderness First Responder Curriculum. A systems-based approach to basic backcountry medicine.

NOLS Cookery. Claudia Pearson.
Outlines the NOLS pantry style packout system. Tips on cooking great food in the field. Loaded with backcountry worthy recipes.

Let my People Go Surfing. Yvon Chouinard.
An autobiography that serves as the employee manual for Patagonia. One part history. One part business and environmental philosophy. If you’re connected with the outdoor industry or environmental/conservation movement in any way you’ll enjoy the book.

Carrots Love Tomatoes.
Louise Riotte.
A classic book from the 1970s that tells you which plants play well together in the garden.

Roses Love Garlic. Louise Riotte.
Sequel to Carrot’s Love Tomatoes. In-depth discussion of companion gardening techniques and how flowers can improve the results in your vegetable garden.

Sleeping with a Sunflower. Louise Riotte.
Monthly almanac of old time garden lore.

Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate. Wendy Johnson.
This is one of those books that Cristi reads again and again. Organic gardening at a Zen retreat. Expert organic gardening advice based on a lifetime of experience. Philosophy, technique and inspiration.

The Winter Harvest Handbook. Elliot Coleman.
Cold weather production techniques. High and low hop houses. Essential advice for the northern gardener.

The New Organic Grower. Elliot Coleman.
Cristi’s favorite organic gardening manual. Fundamentals of organic gardening. Comprehensive without being overwhelming.

All New Square Foot Gardening. Mel Bartholomew.
The latest edition of the classic guide to intensive gardening with raised beds. Raised beds are extraordinarily productive and the square foot approach is perfect for people with limited time and space.

Hunting and Fishing
The Complete Guide to Hunting, Butchering, and Cooking Wild Game: Volume 1: Big Game. Steven Rinella.
Covers everything from natural history to hunting technique, butchering and recipes. Manages the difficult task of covering everything with just the right amount of detail.

The Complete Guide to Hunting, Butchering, and Cooking Wild Game: Volume 2: Small Game and Fowl. Steven Rinella.
Same idea, smaller animals. Rinella is a great writer with a strong conservation ethic and a passion for outdoor adventure. There are a couple killer wild turkey recipes in here too.

The New Boundary Waters Fishing Guide. Michael Furtman.
If you’re headed to the BWCA and you’re wondering what to bring, this is the book to buy. Includes gear and technique recommendations plus a comprehensive lake guide that tells you which species are in each lake.

Curtis Creek Manifesto. Sheridan Anderson
A comic book with solid advice for fly fishing beginners. Funny and fun to read. You’ll learn something.

Tenkara: the Book. Daniel Galhardo.
This is my favorite introductory book on Tenkara. It’s produced by Tenkara USA, so it’s a little brand specific, but it is the perfect mix of simplicity and fundamentals. Beautiful images. Instructive diagrams. A good place to start.

Simple Flies: 52 Easy-to-Tie Patterns that Catch Fish. Morgan Lyle.
Flies so simple that I can tie them. Wet. Dry. Streamers. Terrestrials. Tenkara.

Simple Fly Fishing. Yvon Chouinard, Craig Mathews, et al.
A middle way between true Tenkara and traditional rod-and-reel fly fishing. Fixed line. Floating line. More flies, etc. A beautiful book worth reading. Especially if you’re an experienced fly fisherman looking to simplify your approach to the stream.

Environment and Natural World
Great Lakes Water Wars. Peter Annin.
If you’re interested in the political history of the Great Lakes you’ll want to read this book. It’s a comprehensive exploration of the history that led up to the Great Lakes Compact and efforts to prevent the exploitation of these freshwater seas.

Death and Life of the Great Lakes. Dan Egan.
A natural history of the Great Lakes. Waves of invaders. Ecological crisis. Solutions and natural rebirth. The single best book to read about the Great Lakes.

Boundary Waters Wilderness Ecosystem. Miron Heinselman.
The comprehensive source for information about the Boundary Waters ecosystem. A full exploration of the boreal forest ecosystem from the bedrock up. The discussion of the historic impact of fire on the region is fascinating.

Troubled Waters: The Fight for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Kevin Proescholdt.
A political and social history of the Boundary Waters up to the wilderness area designation. Important reading if you want to understand the back story behind current conflicts in the region over sulfide mining.

Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History. Dan Flores.
Flores is a great writer and the coyote is the quintessential American character. You might not think you’re interested in coyotes but as soon as you pick up this book you will be.

Salmon. Mark Kurlansky.
A history and natural history of salmon worldwide. How environmental change and human intervention have impacted salmon stocks worldwide and what this means for the world. A beautiful and compelling book.

Health and Fitness
Kettlebell: Simple and Sinister.
Pavel Tsatsouline.
Buy this book. Then buy a 16kg and 24kg kettlebell. Learn two exercises. Build versatile strength and endurance for all sports. At home. Life changing.

Death by Food Pyramid. Denise Minger.
Explores the shoddy science and industry lobbying that led to the development of unhealthy dietary recommendations. Also takes a critical look at several popular diets and evaluates their effectiveness and health benefits.

The Hungry Brain. Stephan Guyenet.
Guyenet digs into the neuroscience of hunger and explains why we overeat and how to avoid foods that make us crave more than we need.

Healing Back Pain. John Sarno.
I read this book and my back pain went away. Sounds far fetched, I know. But it worked for me, so I often recommend it. There’s a newer book out by Sarno called The Mind Body Prescription that expands on his back pain theory and examines all manner of potentially psychogenic ailments. Back Pain is a more targeted read. Mind Body more comprehensive. Both are worth a look if you’re struggling with chronic pain.

Personal Development
Waking Up. Sam Harris.
If you’re interested in learning about mindfulness meditation I highly recommend Sam Harris’s book Waking Up. The book comes at mindfulness meditation from a scientific perspective and dispenses with the spiritual or philosophical overtones that are often found in books on meditation. Harris also has a meditation ap that’s available for iPhone and Android. The Waking Up Ap includes an introductory course with daily guided meditations and is useful whether you’re a beginner or have been practicing for some time.

Atomic Habits.  James Clear.
Much of our life is automated by the habits we form, so making small changes in daily habits will create big payoffs down the road. Atomic Habits is a concise manual on how to develop good habits and break bad ones. It’s essential reading if you’re interested in taking your life in a better direction.

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big. Scott Adams.
One part autobiography and one part solid advice for creating a more successful strategy for success. I first read about the concept of using systems rather than goals in this book. This idea alone is worth the price of the book.

Extreme Ownership. Jocko Willink Leif Babin.
Lessons in leadership from combat as applied to the business world. Simple, effective concepts that benefit leaders of all kinds. Fundamental interpersonal skills that will improve relationships and foster respect and loyalty within a team. This is the only book that I’ve ever bought multiple copies of so I would have extras to loan out or give as gifts.

Politics and Media
Hate, Inc. Matt Taibbi.
You can’t understand the world if you don’t understand the modern media environment. Taibbi takes it apart from this inside in the most compelling media critique since Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent. Readable, funny and insightful. We’re all being manipulated by media. Taibbi pulls the curtain away and shows us the how and why.

Loserthink. Scott Adams.
Unproductive ways of thinking are ruining the country and driving us into political silos. Adams shows you how to identify incomplete or misleading thinking in yourself and others. Once you read the book you’ll see Loserthink everywhere.

Win Bigly. Scott Adams.
How did Trump win in 2016? Adams offers up a powerful analysis from a persuasion perspective. The book uses the Trump candidacy to explore a broad range of persuasion topics and techniques that we can all employ and recognize to be more effective in our personal and professional lives.

The MeatEater Fish and Game Cookbook.
Steven Rinella.
If you get to liking Rinella and the MeatEater crew you’ll eventually want this cookbook. Recipes for everything you can hunt or catch.

Deep Run Roots. Vivian Howard.
We love Vivian! We got hooked on Vivian watching the PBS show A Chef’s Life. This cookbook is filled with amazing southern food. Try the cheese ball. Seriously.

Complete Guide to Homebrewing. Charlie Papazian.
Brew your own beer. Complete guide is the place to start. Takes you from simple extract brewing through all-grain recipes. Funny. Comprehensive. First book on homebrewing you should buy.

Craft Coffee. Jessica Easto and Andreas Willhoff
An introduction to manual coffee brewing and the science and art of coffee. If you love coffee and want to learn to brew a better cup this is the book to buy.