Need some quality reading material for the winter months? In no particular order—and recognizing that there are countless other intriguing paddling books—here are eight inspiring paddling tales from around the world:
1. A Thousand Miles in the Rob Roy Canoe
By J. MacGregor
These tales of Macgregor’s travels in his homemade kayak, confusingly called a canoe by our British neighbors across the Atlantic, were influential in spurring the growth of paddlesports. While much has changed since Macgregor’s 1865 journey along the waterways of Europe, many elements, like his practical advice on what to bring and what NOT to bring, are timeless.
2. Paddling My Own Canoe
By Audrey Sutherland
With minimal gear, an inflatable kayak and a can-do attitude like no other, Sutherland coolly embarked on epic thousand kilometer journeys along the remote north shore of Molokai and the coast of Alaska. Sutherland’s writing inspires, shatters perceived barriers and may make you question our dependence on GPS, Go-Pros and Gore-Tex gear.
3. On Celtic Tides: One Man’s Journey Around Ireland by Sea Kayak
By Chris Duff
Expedition kayaker Duff strikes a highly readable balance between the external and internal elements of a long paddling trip. Vivid descriptions of stormy crossings and explorations of ancient abandoned island monasteries are balanced by the beautifully expressed philosophical musings born out of the challenge and purity of a long solo quest.
4. Paddlenorth: Adventure, Resilience, and Renewal in the Arctic Wild
By Jennifer Kingsley
While including the requisite overview on the history, culture, and ecology of the remote Back River, much of Kingsley’s reflections on her 54-day river trip focus on her personal journey, group dynamics and the insights gained from facing the challenges of a wilderness expedition.
5. Arctic Crossing: A Journey Through the Northwest Passage and Inuit Culture
By Jonathan Waterman
Some books about the Arctic dwell on the immense challenges and complex social issues of the north, others wax ide- alistically about the spirituality and beauty of the land. Waterman strikes a balanced and thoughtful tone in his observations on the birth of the new territory of Nunavut and the complex reality of contemporary Inuit culture.
6. Kabloona in the Yellow Kayak: One Woman’s Journey Through the Northwest Passage
By Victoria Jason
7. Paddle to the Amazon
By Don Starkell
A mind-blowing tale of an epic 12,000-mile paddle trip from Winnipeg to the Amazon in a three-seater canoe. Worth reading for the journey itself, the book also gives stark examples of the impact of ego, group dynamics, preparation and cultural awareness on the success and challenges of an expedition.
8. Paddle to the Sea
By Holling C. Holling
This classic 1941 children’s book (later turned into a film by Bill Mason) follows the story of a canoe carved by a First Nations boy, which ends up journeying through the Great Lakes to the Atlantic. Part whimsical tale, part geography lesson, this book may have the young ones in your life curiously eyeing local waterways.