Everyone loves a good book — especially if it inspires you to get your adventure on! One of my personal favourites has long been Alistair Humphreys‘ Microadventures: Local Discoveries for Great Escapes. But I’ve been thinking… As women, our needs, passions and desires are very different to men’s. So I decided to seek out a few books that were written specifically for us women — books that get us. Books that understand what drives us, what gets our tickers really going and make us want to put down our cups of tea, don our trail shoes, swimsuits or snowboarding helmets and get out that door.
I took to Twitter, asking you for some of your favourite books and was overwhelmed with the response. There’s so much out there. Thanks to everyone for your suggestions and sorry I couldn’t cover all of them in this blog. Three of the books I chose from your suggestions were specifically aimed at women, while the other two were just too good to pass up. I hope you find this blog helpful and that you feel inspired to push yourself that little bit harder, throw aside the excuses and go enjoy some valuable outdoor time.
Are you the kinda girl who likes to know exactly what you’re letting yourself in for before taking the leap? The kinda girl who loves everything planned out to a T? Then this book is for you. From 60 minute city runs to source-to-sea cycle challenges, this book ‘gives you the ingredients to build your own adventure big or small’.
From midweek madness to wacky weekends and long-term burners, this book is crammed full of adventure ideas. Tobias Mews hits the nail on the head when he says, ‘Many of us live a time-poor existence, rushing from home to work and back again’. So the challenges he’s compiled in this book aren’t only the kind you need to take a sabbatical just to fit it in, but there’s a whole section just on midweek challenges you can fit in after work. Busy lives means we’ve become experts at the ‘I don’t have time’ excuse, but not with this book. The simplest challenge literally only takes a couple of minutes!
And the beauty of this book? Every challenge is adaptable to where you live. Take the 60 Minutes challenge for example. It’s an orienteering-style challenge, where you squeeze as much into 60 minutes as possible, like visiting as many churches as you can or running over as many bridges as possible in 60 minutes.
Now Tobias hasn’t written this book specifically for women, but I love the level of detail in each of his adventures, I love how much you know about the challenge before you tie your laces and run out the door. And if you’re anything like me (and I think a lot of women are), you’ll love that about this book too.
Just to tickle your adventure buds, a couple of challenges you’ll find in this book include Hidden Waters: Trace and race the hidden rivers of your city and Day Flight Run: Take a day flight and complete an adventure challenge between the first and last flight of the day. And if you’re hungry for even more adventure ideas, just head over to Hard as Trails.
You can buy Go! An inspirational guide to getting outside and challenging yourself by Tobias Mews from Amazon for £12.88.
Have you ever thought you were an expert at swimming, but after about four lengths, realised you’re panting for breath, ruddy-faced and needing to resort to breaststroke to save the little bit of face you have left? The annoying thing is you really want to become a smooth swimming goddess, not only in the pool but in seas, lakes and rivers as well?
Well you’ll be comforted to know you’re not the only one. In her book Leap In, Alexandra Heminsley documents her journey from flailing about in the sea, having no idea how powerful rip tides can be to partaking in open-water challenges and going on week-long holidays swimming around Greek islands — all in a fun and easy-to-read manner.
I found the book nigh impossible to put down soon as I’d picked it up. I love how open, honest and unselfconscious Alex is as she shares her (not always easy) journey to learning to appreciating her body and stilling her mind. She shares the ugly parts, as well as the brilliant parts. You feel like she completey understands you — and there’s nothing better than reading a book you so closely identify with.
The latter part of the book looks a little at the science and technique of learning to swim, and answers a whole bunch of questions about diving into the world of swimming and open-water swimming, like ‘Is swimming in the cold bad for me?’ and ‘Seriously though, what fish might be in there?’
Alex also offers loads of useful advice on choosing all the right equipment (including wetsuits, swim caps, goggles, etc), helping you understand the different types and materials and how to wear it all.
So whether you’re seriously looking to get into swimming or if you just want a good adventure book for rainy days, this is a brilliant one to sink your teeth into.
You can buy Leap In: A woman, some waves, and the will to swim by Alexandra Heminsley from A Great Read for £7.94.
Are you a woman and want to stay fit? Then that’s all you need to know that this book is for you. In its own words, Sorted is a ‘friendly, accessible handbook that gives you a top-to-toe MOT to help you stay fit and well.’ From wearing the right sports bra or exercising during your period, to recovering from injury or keeping active during pregnancy, Dr Juliet McGrattan tackles pretty much every exercise issue or excuse you’ll ever face as a woman.
Flicking through this book, I can identify with just about every chapter, and if I can’t, I know women who could. I’m already thinking of all the friends I want to lend this book to! The book is packed with detailed information on various problems we face as women, handy tips on how to overcome them, quotes from other women who’ve struggled with the same issues, specialist opinions and case studies.
Juliet has lived through many of the problems she covers in this book, which means she totally understands what you’re going through. From finding the right swimming costume for those of you blessed with large breasts and exercising with your baby to combatting mental health problems, overcoming stress incontinence and even slowing down your ageing process, this book really does cover every exercise issue you’ll ever face as a woman.
Just in the first few pages I’d learnt loads of stuff I didn’t know before. For example, did you know that Diary Doll makes pants specifically to help us with heavy periods, pelvic floor accidents and post-maternity problems? They look and feel like normal pants, but have a secret waterproof panel to protect your clothes from leaks. Who knew, right?!
A must read!
You can buy Sorted: The active woman’s guide to health by Dr Juliet McGrattan on Wordery for £11.53.
Book #4 – The Glass Ship
A slightly more unusual topic, this one. But who said different was bad? Written by Martin Simons, The Glass Ship, was written to encourage and inspire women to take up gliding. A fictional story, it follows the adventures of a teenage girl, named Mitch and her passion for the sport of soaring.
I loved how positively both Mitch and her half-sister were portrayed in this book. Often in sport and adventure, women are seen as weaker and less competent — thankfully this has started changing in recent years though — so considering this book was written by a man, it’s a welcome surprise. Mitch is only 16 and is already super competent in the sport — and there’s a lot of technical know-how as well as skill involved in this activity.
The book is self-published, so the editing isn’t as clean as you’d hope. And being a fictional story rather than an instruction manual in gliding, it could certainly do with a bit less focus on every minute detail of rigging, safety checks and the like. I think a little more focus on the story would have made it a better read.
But saying that, I did really enjoyed the book and would recommend it as a a good short holiday read.
You can buy the Kindle version of The Glass Ship by Martin Simons on Amazon for £3.49 and on paperback for £9.65.
Hands up if you’ve ever wanted to be more adventurous, try something you’ve never done before or visit breathtaking places? But every time there’s something stopping you? Fear. Apprehension. Anxiety. Well, Sarah Tiedemann knows that feeling all too well and that’s why she’s written this book.
Many moons ago Sarah used to be a nervous wreck. Being a bit of a control freak, she liked to know where everything was at all times and liked to be prepared for every possible scenario. But fed up with it inhibiting her adventure life, she decided to stare her fears in the face and tell them politely to bugger off. She’s now walked cliffside along Kauai’s most perilous trail, snowmobiled through herds of buffalo and hiked to windswept summits in the dead of winter.
While self-published, this book is a fun and light-hearted, but useful read. Sarah’s done a good job of combining her own personal stories with handy advice and tips on overcoming fear of various forms. From wildlife, creepy crawlies and flora to the challenges of being a woman in the wild, each chapter focusses on a different fear that might stop us pushing our boundaries and tells us how to overcome them.
Favourite quote from the book: ‘Any woman can tell you the day she finally learnt to pee in the woods without peeing on herself was an amazing victory. Even when you master it, you’ll still pee on yourself occasionally. Sometimes it can’t be helped.’
You can buy Traveling with baggage: A guide for the hesitant hiker by Sarah D. Tiedemann from Amazon for £8.90.