Top 10 Books to Bear the Blame


Robert Parvin Williams

Once our earliest ten-fingered forbears discovered the joys of enumerating things, top 10 lists were inevitable. So without apology, we at Field Ethos are scratching the itch to list.

We’re curious about which books affected you most when you were young and impressionable and developing an interest in outdoor adventure. We thought about doing a celebrity series, of course–a top 10 outdoor adventure booklist from the famous and infamous–but that really isn’t all that interesting when you think about it. What’s a lot more interesting is listing the books that made enough difference across a fair sampling of our readership to suggest something about why we like to do what we do. 

The assumption, certainly, is that the written word played a seminal role in forming an interest in hunting, fishing, or whatever you’re looking to read about. (If that assumption is wrong this website wouldn’t exist anyway.)  As Descartes might have observed, although perhaps in Latin, “I’m reading this therefore I probably read something similar before.” Now that’s validation.

To get started, here’s my own list, in no particular order:

Books Read Before the Age of 18 that Stirred My Interest in the Outdoors

  1. The Jungle Book, Rudyard Kipling
  2. The Big Woods, William Faulkner
  3. Little House in the Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder
  4. Two Little Savages, Ernest Thompson Seton
  5. My Side of the Mountain, Jean Craighead George
  6. The Old Man and the Boy, Robert Ruark
  7. Nick Adams stories, in collection, Ernest Hemingway
  8. The Maneaters of Kumaon, Jim Corbett
  9. Foxfire series, edited by Eliot Wigginton
  10. How to Build Your Home in the Woods, Bradford Angier

Okay, your turn. Send lists to  We’ll peruse the submissions and publish a list of the most often-cited books.