Paddling is an artform that can fit most temperaments and cure most ailments (allegedly. According to Pliny the Elder, at least). It can be adventurous for those seeking adventure. It can be meditative for those seeking respite. Paddling connects you with nature and the universal sound of being tied to this beautiful spinning rock. 

But sometimes, we aren’t paddling. We are landlocked, or the ice is in, or just wrapped up with all the crazymaking parts of life. This is where good books save us. 

We’ve compiled some recommendations perfect for canoe fans, kayak enthusiasts, backpackers, and kiddo beginners. Check out some of these titles: 

Books for Paddlers

Northern Forest Canoe Trail Guidebook: Enjoy 740 Miles of Canoe and Kayak Destinations in New York, Vermont, Quebec, New Hampshire, and Maine by Northern Forest Canoe Trail

For those who like planning trips and mapping their weekends and summers, the official guidebook will help you dream big. 

Fifty Places to Paddle Before You Die: Kayaking and Rafting Experts Share the World’s Greatest Destinations By Chris Santa

While the NFCT guidebook focuses on the Northeast, Fifty Places takes you around the world of paddling possibility. Featuring top spots for kayaking, rafting, canoeing, and stand-up paddleboarding, destinations include the Florida Keys, Elba Italy, Abel Tasman National Park in New Zealand, and many more. 

The Don’t Drown Out There Deck by Adventure Cycling Association 

This collection of survival tactics is a card deck (that’s waterproof) but instead of card suits, paddling recommendations to keep yourself safe and happy. Perfect for beginner support or a really weird game of Uno. 

Canoe and Kayak Handbook : Handbook of the British Canoe Union by British Canoe Union

For beginner and experienced paddlers who want to sharpen their skills or keep up with paddling theory (yes, there’s theory). A great resource to help you with the mechanics of paddling to make your adventures more enjoyable. 

Recreational Kayaking: The Ultimate Guide (Heliconia) Comprehensive Instructional Handbook Covers Equipment, Strokes, Paddling Techniques, Capsize Recovery, Kayak Safety, Paddler’s First Aid, & More by Ken Whiting

From equipment, essentials, strokes, and maneuvers, this book covers all of the practical parts of kayaking. A thorough resource for enthusiasts, this book will encourage you to get out on the water and maximize the opportunity to discover yourself. 

Paddling North: A Solo Adventure Along the Inside Passage by Audrey Sutherland

At age 60 Audrey Sutherland spent a summer paddling along the southeast coast of Alaska in an inflatable kayak. The diary she kept during her time features stories of her adventures, illustrations, and recipes. 

Canoeing in the Wilderness by Henry David Thoreau

Thoreau is known for Walden, but his story of paddling in the Maine wilderness should sit alongside it on your shelf. Witty and insightful, Thoreau captures the ups and downs of paddling that remain eternal. 

Backpackers, Hikers, and Walkers 

How to Suffer Outside By Diana Helmuth

Helmuth’s book on backpacking is part memoir, part instructions, and all passion. Helmuth’s humor and vulnerability gives you permission to get outside and how to love it. Great beginner’s guidebook and seasoned backpackers will appreciate Helmuth’s prose. 

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

Bryson’s famous memoir about backpacking the Appalachian Trail remains a titan of humor and honesty. You’ll relate strongly to Bryson’s hubris and self-discovery. 

How to Shit in the Woods by Kathleen Meyer

Look, it’s important to know how to do that. Just saying. And Meyer’s “backpacker’s Bible” encourages a love of the outdoors and a consciousness of environmentalism that’s educational and entertaining. 

Paddling for Kids! 

One Dog Canoe by Mary Casanova

For the young paddlers in your life, a story of a girl, her dog, and canoe adventure will entertain and delight. Perfect for ages 2-4. 

Yellow Kayak by Nina Laden

A boy and his best friend go on a sea adventure and come home with amazing stories to tell. Perfect for ages 1-4. 

Three Days on a River in a Red Canoe by Vera B Williams

A red canoe carries a family down river on a camping trip. You’ll feel like you’re there. Available as a paperback and an audiobook. Perfect for ages 5-8. 

And, of course, we at Wild Meadow Paddlesports encourage everyone to order books on this list, and any others you’re interested in, from their local bookstore or local library. Support small businesses.