The Best New Books for Spring 2018
Eight reads that will satisfy any reader's craving
Spring is a time to hide away your clunky winter gear, air out the house, and maybe Kondo your life into some semblance of order. At Outside, though, it’s a time when our desks and mailboxes become cluttered with exciting new books. We think these eight offer a worthy excuse to fill your bookshelves—or even buy a new one, if you have to.
If You Want Fiction
‘The Overstory’ by Richard Powers
Richard Powers, a National Book Award winner, is perhaps the only author who could make a plot like this truly work: The book starts as a series of seemingly unrelated tales of nine people who each have a dramatic experience involving trees. That’s just setting the stage for an ambitious 502 pages that explore the relationship between humans and nature and our responsibility to protect it. Powers has clearly done his research, making mention of real and recent science surrounding the inner lives of trees that would make David Haskell proud.
‘The Life List of Adrian Mandrick’ by Chris White
The novel focuses on anesthesiologist and bird obsessive Adrian Mandrick’s quest to achieve the longest life list of species spotted, as well as on his abuse of painkillers. It makes for a meditation on addictions that White handles with sensibility and humor.
If You Want Adventure Guided by an Insider
‘Critical Hours: Search and Rescue in the White Mountains’ by Sandy Stott
It may come as no surprise that mishaps and rescues in New Hampshire’s dangerous White Mountains could fill a book. Sandy Stott, former “accidents” editor at the Appalachian Mountain Club’s journal Appalachia, has done just that with this collection of dozens of search and rescue stories from the area. But don’t expect a salacious series of horror stories. Stott focuses on the heroism of SAR workers and what these incidents can teach us about staying safe in the mountains.
‘Acid West’ by Joshua Wheeler
New Mexico, from the perspective of the rest of the United States, is known for a strange and sometimes contradictory assortment of things, from romantic notions of the sprawling West to UFOs and Spaceport America. Wheeler comes at these topics from a local’s perspective—he grew up in Alamogordo, and his collection of essays take place there and in surrounding areas. The pieces, which are true but can read like legends, observe the bizarre, sometimes scary, and just as often funny ways that southern New Mexico reflects America’s romantic notions of a cowboy past and a space cowboy future.
If You Want a Little History
‘Wildfire: On the Front Lines with Station 8’ by Heather Hansen
Journalist Heather Hansen became a wildland certified firefighter to report this book, in which she follows a Boulder, Colorado–based wildland fire crew on their (very busy) job. The book turns out to be not just a close look at the day-to-day of an intense job, but also an excellent overview of how our current “mega-fire” era came to be.
‘To the Edges of the Earth: 1909, the Race for the Three Poles, and the Climax of the Age of Exploration’ by Edward J. Larson
You may have heard about the travails of Douglas Mawson in Antarctica, Robert Peary in the Arctic, and Luigi Amedeo on K2. But you haven’t heard about them all at once in an adrenaline-fueled look at one of the wildest times in exploration, all from a Pulitzer Prize–winning historian.
If You Want to See What Outside’s Been Up to Lately
‘The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After’ by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil
In the prologue of her memoir, Clemantine Wamariya recalls being a guest on Oprah years after making it to the United States, having fled the Rwandan massacre with her sister in 1994, when both of them were children. She and her sister are surprised when their entire family—whom they had not seen since 1994—show up on set. It’s a complicated moment that doesn’t fit neatly into the simplistic, heartrending narrative that’s often forced on survivors of horrific experiences. Wamariya (along with Outside contributor Elizabeth Weil) tells the rest of her story—which, yes, is often extremely tough—with brilliance and space to grapple with her thoughts.
‘Out There: The Wildest Stories from Outside Magazine’
Extreme bias alert: We’re pretty proud of every single feature in our new anthology. Some of our favorite writers take on the quirky adventures, the doomed road trips, and the, uh, out-there characters who make our world so rich (and head-scratching). If Kevin Fedarko manning a poop boat, Taffy Brodesser-Akner going deep into the wellness industry, and Wells Tower taking a very grumpy trip to Iceland with his father don’t convince you, then you probably don’t have a whimsical bone in your body.