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10 Best Books to Read While Camping

This varied list of the best books to read while camping will help you feel more in touch with nature and the wildlife that surrounds you…

With so many RVs equipped with outdoor TVs these days, it’s easy to forget how enjoyable a good book by the campfire is. 

The sounds of nature as your background track will truly make these stories come alive. You’ll feel more connected to the great outdoors, in tune with the spirit of adventure, and in awe of Earth’s creatures.

The following books span continents, decades, and many genres so there is something for everyone on this list. 

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The Best Books to Read While Camping (My Top 10 Picks)

I compiled this list of the best books to read while camping based on one unifying factor: the appreciation of nature and its creatures. 

You may have heard of several of these, but I’d be willing to bet there are at least a few you haven’t. Those are perhaps the ones I recommend the most, but I think you’d be pleased with any on this list. In fact, we put all of these on a new Amazon List for easy reference.

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1. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

The beautifully detailed and life-like imagery of the American marsh makes this book worth reading alone. But the story of its heroine is also just as enticing.

It’s the story of a young girl, Kya, who essentially raises herself in the marshes of North Carolina. Misunderstood and underestimated by the nearby locals, the “Marsh Girl” tries to steer clear of their judging eyes and prejudiced murmurs. She finds solace and purpose in the wetlands around her, making friends with gulls and catching the attention of two young men. When one turns up dead, all fingers are pointed at Kya, forcing her out of seclusion.

This is Delia Owens’ first fiction novel, but she is a three-time international bestselling author of nonfiction books about her life as a wildlife scientist. Her advanced understanding of nature and its creatures catapults this mysterious coming-of-age story to an awe-inspiring level.

2. A River Runs Through It and Other Stories by Norman Maclean

Well known as a great American Tale, A River Runs Through It was also adapted into a movie directed by Robert Redford and starring Brad Pitt. 

This book is ideal for camping not only because of its rugged setting and storytelling but also because it’s easily digestible since it’s broken into 3 parts.

Based on Maclean’s own experiences as a young man, the book’s two novellas and short stories are set in the small towns and mountains of western Montana. It is a world populated with drunks, loggers, card sharks, and whores, but also one rich in the pleasures of fly-fishing, logging, cribbage, and family. 

3. The Call of the Wild by Jack London

Also adapted into a movie and highlighted throughout the decades as an American Classic, The Call of the Wild is a must-read for every camper.

(By the way, you may want to check out 13 Best Road Trip Movies for RVers and Camping.)

This adventurous story is told through the eyes of a strong, determined dog named Buck that is trying to navigate the world of man and animals. His perilous, heartwrenching, and inspiring story takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions. 

 4. Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

“Spanning the Caribbean to the frozen Far North, London to Morocco, Washington Black is a story of self-invention and betrayal, of love and redemption, and of a world destroyed and made whole again.”

An eleven-year-old field slave becomes a manservant to the eccentric Christopher Wilde, who turns out to be a naturalist, explorer, inventor, and abolitionist. They set out together in a flying machine, discovering the world, themselves, and the commonalities between all humans.

This book embraces the spirit of adventure and how it leads to self-discovery and empowerment, making it one of the best books to read while camping.


Mike and Jennifer’s Summer T-Shirts for your next adventure

10 Best Books to Read While Camping 1
Your Adventure Awaits! New colors and designs are waiting for you.

5. Modoc: The True Story of the Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived by Ralph Helfer

Chances are, you haven’t heard of this book, but you’ll be grateful that you now have if you decide to read it. This story is unlike any other you’ll ever read and it will stick in your mind and heart for many years to come. 

The synopsis puts it perfectly:

Raised together in a small German circus town, a boy and an elephant formed a bond that would last their entire lives, and would be tested time and again: through a near-fatal shipwreck in the Indian Ocean, an apprenticeship with the legendary Mahout elephant trainers in the Indian teak forests, and their eventual rise to circus stardom in 1940s New York City. As the African Sun-Times put it, Modoc is “heartwarming. . . probably the greatest love story ever told.”

6. Take Me With You by Catherine Ryan Hyde

This story is set on a heartwrenching foundation of a burned-out teacher who has been sober since his nineteen-year-old son died. 

However, the story becomes uplifting and heartwarming as he travels to Yellowstone with his son’s ashes. He picks up two unexpected passengers along the way, turning it into a transformative journey for everyone.

7. The Giver of Stars by JoJo Moyes

A team of women answers the call of Eleanor Roosevelt to deliver books far and wide. The four women venture through Kentucky and become known as the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky.

They face all kinds of dangers and are confronted with beauty and brutality, but they press on. Nothing, including men, will prevent them from fulfilling their calling.

8. Into the Wild by John Krakauer 

This story speaks to the pull of nature and its power to steal us away. 

It’s based on a mysterious missing person case where a young man from a well-to-do family escaped from the confines of his class to the wilds of Alaska. He disappeared into the wilderness north of Mt. Mckinley, only for his decomposing body to be found four months later.

The author confronts the judgmental and dismissive responses the public has for the boy’s tragedy, and how, in truth, many of us can relate to him more than we may care to admit.

9. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

Driven by a similar impulse as Into the Wild, this is the story of a broken young woman who flees to the Pacific Crest Trail to escape tragedy and disappointment in her life. Fortunately, this one has a happier ending. 

As RVers, we can relate to the desire to drive away from chaos in search of serenity. This honest memoir may speak to us on an even deeper level than those less traveled.

10. The Parrot’s Lament by Eugene Linden

I’m ending this list on another lesser-known book that serves as an intriguing introduction to the complexity of animal behavior and intelligence. This series of true animal tales is perfect for reading aloud around the campfire. 

What I appreciate about this book is how it reports on true tales of animals and then mostly lets the reader draw their own conclusion on the deeper meaning. It doesn’t overly anthropomorphize animals yet still makes you wonder how much we underestimate them. 

Your Vote on the Best Books to Read While Camping

Please let us know if you’ve read any of the above books, and if you agree that they belong on this list of the best books to read while camping. We put them all on this Amazon list for easy reference.

Plus, I’d like to add to this list and eventually have an expanded best books to read while camping list! So, please share any other recommendations you might have in the comments below.

New ebook from Mike and Jennifer Wendland – the Natchez Trace

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The Natchez Trace Parkway will capture your imagination, soothe your jangled travel nerves, open your mind and inspire you with the history that unfolded along its 444 miles.

Each of the 7 Days of the ebook has:

  • Suggested Mileposts to explore
  • Places to Eat in each area of the 7 sections
  • Campground descriptions and links
  • Links to all the special places and information
  • Links to videos that show more in detail
  • and a lot of highlighted information for each section

PLEASE NOTE: This is NOT a printed, hard copy guide.

Whether you want to follow the footsteps of explorers, discover natural beauty, or visit historic sites, the Trace has something to grab your attention and leave you eager to see what’s at the next milepost.

You can see why this is one of our favorite US routes to explore. We’ve traveled it a half dozen times!


Mike and Jennifer Wendland’s Yellowstone Travel Guide

At the top of every RVers bucket list, it is a place so majestic, so wild, and so big that it calls us to return, to explore, to get to know the diversity of its land and animals over and over again.

Everywhere you look are waterfalls, fast-moving rivers, geysers, sheer rock faces, towering lodgepole pines, all framed by mountains under the bright blue cloudless sky.

It’s spectacular for those who love the wilderness and getting up close and personal with it. Enjoy Yellowstone for RV travel.



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19 Responses to “10 Best Books to Read While Camping”

May 03, 2022at8:25 pm, Jane Rimmer said:

Books from this list that I’ve read:
A River Runs through It
The Call of the Wild
Wild (ok, only about half)
IMO, a better book is How the WILD EFFECT Turned Me into a Hiker at 69: An Appalachian Trail Adventure, by Jane Congdon
Other books that I’d recommend:
Open Road: A Midlife Memoir of Travel and the National Parks, by T.W. Neal
Open Road: A Companion Magazine for the memoir Open Road, Toby Neal, Photography by Mike Neal.
Beautiful photos of America’s National Parks with quotes and poems. It’s beautiful!

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May 05, 2022at2:05 pm, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Thank you for adding these to the list – so many good ones out there! Team RV Lifestyle

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May 01, 2022at10:34 pm, Donnie Schmitt said:

I always take a volume of poetry! Something simple!

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May 03, 2022at10:37 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Sounds like a great idea – Team RV Lifestyle

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May 01, 2022at7:55 am, Stacey Taylor said:

Love the idea of sharing a book list for camping! Thank you! Of your list I have read most already, but the one I would recommend above the rest is “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed.

To your list I would add “The Lincoln Highway” by Amor Towles, “Empire of the Summer Moon” by SC Gwynn, “Prodigal Summer” by Barbara Kingsolver, “Boys in the Boat” by Daniel James Brown, and “The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert M. Pirsig, and “Undaunted Courage” by Stephen E. Ambrose. And for the more unorthodox of the group I would suggest “Fear of Flying” by Erica Jong.

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April 30, 2022at3:46 pm, Jose Fernandez said:

NONE!!! You are camping to enjoy the great outdoors. Save your reading when you are back home being a couch potato. Get out and hike. Go take photos. Explore nature. Talk with a park ranger. Unless you are a full-timer or physically handicapped, you will have plenty of time when home to read. You made the effort to get out; now enjoy it!!!

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May 03, 2022at10:42 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

We are all for getting out there and hiking and enjoying the great outdoors, for sure. But sometimes a good book is a nice way to relax when out there enjoying, too. Thanks, Jose, for adding to the discussion – Team RV Lifestyle

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May 03, 2022at8:12 pm, Jane Rimmer said:

We like to spend the day hiking,visiting historical outdoor places, enjoying the campfire. Then crawl into bed with a good book.

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May 05, 2022at2:05 pm, Team RV Lifestyle said:

That sounds pretty relaxing to us! Team RV Lifestyle

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April 30, 2022at1:57 pm, Mary Beth Andrews said:

“Driving Miss Norma”, by Tim Bauershmidt and Ramie Liddle – the true story of an elderly woman diagnosed with terminal cancer, who chooses to travel in an RV around the United States with her son and daughter-in-law for the last year and a bit of her life. Sad ending, but a great story!

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May 03, 2022at10:32 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

That sounds like an emotional but powerful book! Thanks for sharing – Team RV Lifestyle

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April 30, 2022at12:25 pm, Amy Delpiere said:

Thank you for these great recommendations! Merle’s Door may appeal to readers in the RV family. I read that many years ago but still recall the title so that says a lot.

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May 03, 2022at10:31 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Thanks for sharing this title. Sounds like another good one to check out! Team RV Lifestyle

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April 30, 2022at10:16 am, Cecilia Cosper said:

Thanks for the list. The packhorse librarian book reminded me of a great book I read called the Book Woman of Troublesome Creek.

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May 03, 2022at10:31 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Thank you for the suggestion. We have not read it but intriguing title! Team RV Lifestyle

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April 30, 2022at9:20 am, michael clark said:

I like your list.
I have read ..Into the wild, seen the movie,and seen “THE bus” at the Restaurant outside Denali. All tore a little peice of my heart ( Janis Joplin),but was more than worth the pain.
For me a moving book. It could have been writen about my Nephew/Godson , RIP both of you

Michael

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April 30, 2022at9:27 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Thank you for sharing this. Sounds like a powerful book. Team RV Lifestyle

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April 30, 2022at8:31 am, Liz Fisher said:

Excellent List of books. Especially for those heading to Arizona, I recommend a relatively new book “The Forgotten Botanist” by Wynne Brown. It is the true story of Sara Lemmon who roamed and camped in much of the West in the late 1800’s documenting the plants. Tucson’s Mt. Lemmon is named for her as well as several plants. Her friends included John Muir and Clara Barton.

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April 30, 2022at9:04 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Thank you for sharing this. We were not familiar with this book but sounds like one worthy of checking out. Team RV Lifestyle

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