When we’re not in the position of sneaking out into the wild and when our heart is longing for nature, we can embrace a good book and read about forests, mountains, and wilderness instead. It feels like some kind of comfort.

And it’s always a great feeling when you find the same thrill for nature in someone else’s words, written perhaps centuries ago.

For example, Robert Louis Stevenson, an American writer, stayed in Davos for winter in 1911 hoping that the fresh air will heal his tuberculosis and despite his illness, he writes about Alps and Switzerland with delight.

“But one thing is undeniable – that in the rare air, clear, cold, and blinding light of Alpine winters, a man takes a certain troubled delight in his existence which can nowhere else be paralleled. He is perhaps no happier, but he is stingingly alive. It does not, perhaps, come out of him in work or exercise, yet he feels an enthusiasm of the blood unknown in more temperate climates. It may not be healthy, but it is fun.”

Glacier de Moiry
Taken at Glacier de Moiry

So, why wouldn’t you take some of these books with you on your next hike? Double your pleasure by reading an inspiring book about nature while you’re enjoying the beautiful surroundings at summits in the Swiss Alps.

Here are some really inspiring books to read while hiking. They deal with the possibilities of human coexistence with nature and share the same feeling of admiration for nature and its splendors.

1. Pan by Knut Hamsun

Hamsun is still a big enigma – a convinced Nazi who wrote a series of masterpieces in which this ideology is only slightly present. Don’t judge a book by its cover, or, should we say: don’t judge a book by the author’s life? However, you should give Hamsun a chance and read this incredibly poetic masterpiece overflowed with inspiring, remarkable notes on breathtaking landscapes. ‘Pan’ is an ode to solitude life, nature, forests, northern woods, and Norwegian northern summer.

“I stepped outside the hut and listened. Nothing, no noise; all was asleep. The air was alight with flying insects, myriads of buzzing wings. Out at the edge of the wood were ferns and aconite, the trailing arbutus was in bloom, and I loved its tiny flowers… Thanks, my God, for every heather bloom I have ever seen; they have been like small roses on my way, and I weep for love of them… Somewhere near were wild carnations; I could not see them, but I could mark their scent.”

2. The Teachings of Don Juan by Carlos Castaneda

Only for the brave ones, cause this book will give you chills down your spine! Castaneda will take you to the mystic world of Indian shamans, tribal sorcerers, and people very close to nature. Regardless whether or not Castaneda’s experiences described in the book were fiction, the book will make you rethink your life and the world around you and think about death differently.

“The world is a mystery. This, what you’re looking at, is not all there is to it. There is much more to the world, so much more, in fact, that it is endless.”

Taken at Kandersteg

3. Walden; or, Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau

The writer Henry David Thoreau lived in a cabin near the remote forest lake Walden for two years and two months. His goal was to find himself and live a plain lifestyle in harmony with nature. This book describes his life during two years in the wilderness and it’s some kind of a personal confession and a social experiment.

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

4. Doppler by Erlend Loe

This one may seem like a modern and naive Walden, and you will laugh so hard at main character’s adventures when he leaves society, home, and family and go to live in the woods. The crisis of contemporary society and individual, personal struggles with the ultimatums imposed by contemporary life are the main subject of this novel, and although that the book seems cruel, dark, and pessimistic at the moments, the humorous and sarcastic narrative changes the entire experience of reading this novel.

“One problem with people is that as soon as they fill a space it’s them you see and not the space. Large, desolate landscapes stop being large, desolate landscapes once they have people in them. They define what the eye sees. And the human eye is almost always directed at other humans. In this way, an illusion is created that humans are more important than those things on earth which are not human. It’s a sick illusion.”

5. The Essential Travel Writings by Robert Louis Stevenson

The book is the collection of Stevenson’s most important essays and writings, including a section on Alps and Switzerland. It would be great to see what the famous writer’s experience with the Swiss Alps was like. So this could be the perfect reading choice for your next hike in Switzerland.

“This, in an atmosphere tingling with forty degrees of frost, in a night made luminous with stars and snow, and girt with strange white mountains, teaches the pulse an unaccustomed tune and adds a new excitement to the life of man upon his planet.”

Taken at Reculet

6. The Call of the Wild by Jack London

And, of course, who else if not Jack London? It’s always such a pleasure to experience your childhood’s favorite books once again. Being older and having a different approach to the book, you may find some new perspectives and notice new details.

And after all, aren’t you all here cause you can hear the call of the wild?

“But especially he loved to run in the dim twilight of the summer midnights, listening to the subdued and sleepy murmurs of the forest, reading signs and sounds as a man may read a book, and seeking for the mysterious something that called – called, waking or sleeping, at all times, for him to come.”

So, what are you waiting for? Mountains are calling and you must go!


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