Don’t waste time on trashy novels at the beach this summer. These new outdoor and adventure page turners prove yet again that true stories trump fiction for fun reads.
Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller’s Tragic Quest for Primitive Art
By Carl Hoffman (William Morrow)
The art-collecting son of billionaire Nelson Rockefeller disappeared in 1961 in the waters off the coast of New Guinea when his dugout canoe overturned. He was declared dead by drowning even though his body was never recovered. But whispers arose that he survived and was ritually cannibalized by locals. Hoffman, through remarkably thorough reporting and equally as thoughtful writing, searches to find the answer.
Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes across America
By John Waters (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)
There’s almost no new ground a book about hitchhiking across America can cover—except, of course, if it’s penned by the thin-moustached, ingeniously funny nutbtall writer and director who gave the world the cult classic movies Pink Flamingos and Hairspray. The book is divided into three sections: Best case scenarios (on what he imagines could happen on the trip), worst case scenarios (ditto), and what really happens (the nonfiction storytelling part). Each one is equally rewarding, funny, and surprising.
Gone Feral: Tracking My Dad through the Wild
By Novella Carpenter
Writer Novella Carpenter is on the verge of starting her own family when she’s contacted that her survivalist father, in his 70s, has disappeared from his cabin in a remote corner of Idaho. She finds him but continues searching for a connection to him—something she’s never really had, by investigating her own past, and examining the legacy he has left for her.
The Explorers: A Story of Fearless Outcasts, Blundering Geniuses, and Impossible Success
By Martin Dugard (Simon and Schuster)
In the mid 19th Century, bombastic Richard Francis Burton and bookish John Hanning Speke emerged from their renowned expedition in search of the source of the Nile River with differing conclusions. Their ensuing feud would create an international sensation, overshadowing the courage and perseverance they showed in overcoming the remarkable adversity that confronted their perilous journey. Dugard, who co-wrote “Killing Lincoln” with Fox News celebrity Bill O’Reilly, uses the story as a Malcom Gladwell-like vehicle to present the argument that there are seven qualities all explorers must possess to be successful.
Denali’s Howl: The Deadliest Climbing Disaster on America’s Wildest Peak
By Andy Hall (Dutton)
Seven members of a 12-man mountaineering team died on Mount McKinley in 1967 after being hammered by an epic, weeklong storm. Their remains are buried beneath the Alaskan snow to this day. Few people were closer to the tragedy as it unfolded than Andy Hall, the five-year-old son of the park superintendent at the time. Almost a half-century later, Hall investigates and sheds new light on the events that led up to, and unfolded after, the greatest tragedy ever to hit North America’s tallest peak.