Books to Go – tips and ideas

A little while back we discussed the various luxury items people love to take on a trip.

A book was one of the most common “must have” items. In this post we invite you to share your ideas for great books to take hiking, bushwalking or on a multi day trip anywhere!

We’d love you to leave a reply below to share your book ideas with our other readers.  It might be the best novel you have read on the track, a book you want to read but have never taken the time or a story about the weirdest / nicest place you have relaxed with a great book!

Reading a book - Kia Ora Hut - Overland Track - Tasmania

Reading a book - Kia Ora Hut - Overland Track

But first of all, what are Sue’s top tips for choosing a Book to Go (anywhere outdoors)

  • Make it a paperback so it can squish easily into your pack
  • Choose one that is small print and format, you get more words for the weight
  • Protect it in a large zip loc bag or dry sac (reading a soggy book is no fun)
  • If in doubt, choose one you have been putting off reading for a while.  If you are a voracious readers like us, you WILL get through it!
  • If you are out for several days, coordinate your books with other members in the group so you can swap them around
  • Sorry about this one book lovers, but if you finish your book and someone else in the party is still reading theirs,  tear the book in half so you can read the first part. (we have seen this done several times….don’t forget to ask first!)

Frank’s PicksIcestation - Matthew Reilly

Matthew Reilly books are always a good read for a simple soul like Frank. These “boys own” adventures are easy to pick up and put down. They are usually pretty lightweight (both on the scales and the content) and come as a paperback, essentials for carrying on a trip.
Matthew Reilly is an Australian and his target audience is teenagers and young adults. (perfect for Frank)

Tomorrow When the War Began - John MarsdenTomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden is also a ripper (and the first of the three part series) The story is about a group of teenagers who live in “the bush” when Australia has been invaded. It is a great adventure yarn.

Highly recommended as a terrific read and one your kids possibly have on their bookshelf.

Sue’s Pick
The Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett
The Pillars of the Earth – Sue has chosen this book by Ken Follett.  She enjoys a more “mature” , shall we say sophisticated, style of novel than Frank. This is a small review from Amazon:  Follett manages to write of an age of religious devotion without tumbling into the two pits – making fun of medieval Christian faith, or uncritically adopting it. An immensely satisfying read. Don’t miss this book if you love wonderful story-spinning and history.

Do you have any suggestions for a great book to take on a multi day trip?

Please take the time to leave us a comment (below) it will be appreciated (we need a few ideas)


  1. Pete says

    Two great travel books:
    Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig, both a physical and philosophical journey.

    Listening for Coyote by Bill Sullivan, about his hike from the southwestern to the northeastern points of Oregon.

    • Frank says

      Thanks Pete,
      We talked about Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig and neither of us have read it. Will put it on the list.
      Listening for Coyote sounds interesting, will check it out.

  2. petra says

    crime fiction for me. easy to digest.

    for example the stieg larsson series starting with the “girl with dragon tatoo” (original title “men who hate women” !! )

    • Frank says

      Agree Petra,
      Sue read Girl With the Dragon Tattoo when she did the OT solo (from memory) We have since read nearly every book he has written. Pretty good (if not very dry)

  3. Steven says

    If you like Matthew Reilly (which i do) you will also enjoy anything by Clive Cussler. I have devoured them all a couple of times. Very hard to put down if you have chores but perfect for the trail.


    • says

      I whole-heartedly agree with this suggestion. The books are a great read. Clive Cussler has been quite a prolific author and if you read all his tales you’ll be fully booked :-)

      I also enjoy Tom Clancy novels. I’d like to find other authors comparable to Tom Clancy and Matthew Reilly.

      I’m reading my first ebook on my iPad. I’m unlikely to take this with me on a bush walk.

      • Frank says

        Great to hear from you Graeme. Agree about Tom Clancy as well, have read a lot of his.
        Now, most importantly! iPad, Happy? Might just pick up one in a couple of days, very impressed with what I have seen at work. (I just need to make sure Word press, the platform we use here works ok so I can use it for posting articles))

        • says

          I just tried out the word press backend on a test site. You will have problems with the visual editor. I expect because of JavaScript-related nuances of the TinyMce editor that word press uses. Scripts like that usually have a great deal of browser-specific tweaks that rely on browser I’d strings. When new browsers hit the market, it can take a little time for the nuances to be recrafted.

          To all other readers, sorry for the gibberish above.

          There is a wordpress app for the iPhone. I expect that will be recrafted into a richer iPad variant soon.

    • Frank says

      Hi Steven,
      Will definitely keep an eye out for Clive – need to head off to the library tomorrow so will check em out.

  4. Georgie says

    A book I am reading at the moment (but it is academic, so Frank, read no further!) is David Maister’s ‘Strategy and the Fat Smoker’, which, in a mouthful “offers advice on how to fight strategic flab and make change happen by encouraging a diet of good habits and short-term goals”. He says that few people know how to execute ‘strategy’, ie what you know you should do but don’t. Quite interesting, one of those personal growth type books, but not slash-your-wrists stuff. G

    • Frank says

      You never cease to amaze me! Strategy and the Fat Smoker, what a great title. Now don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy reading more academic tomes but NOT when we are hiking. Something light and easy is always on the menu. (besides, I am usually so stuffed I nod off after 10 min reading)Cheers!

  5. Tooth says

    Aw come on, number one book for the bush would have to be some collected verses by Banjo Paterson! :-)

    • Frank says

      Hi Tooth,
      Welcome aboard. Good suggestion, what is your favourite?
      Mine is a toss up between The Man from Snowy River or the Man from Ironbark:

      “He raised his hand, his brow grew black, he paused awhile to gloat,
      Then slashed the red-hot razor-back across his victim’s throat;
      Upon the newly shaven skin it made a livid mark —
      No doubt it fairly took him in — the man from Ironbark.”

      • Tooth says

        Great picks Frank!

        It’s hard for me to play favorites though, I enjoy so many of them. Aside from the 2 you mentioned, I’d say Clancy of the Overflow, A Mountain Station, Come-by-Chance, Kiley’s Run… probably others too!

  6. Joanne says

    I’m a fan of classics for bushwalking; the often tiny print and unfamiliar language/wording means that the book lasts me heaps longer than usual, and once I get through the first few chapters and used to the writing, I thoroughly enjoy them. I’ve been working my way through Charles Dicken’s works on my recent walks. Most often my reading takes place in my sleeping bag, by torch light, with a bag of jelly snakes within hand’s reach.

    • Frank says

      Good one Joanne,
      A bit like Sue’s suggestion of taking one that you have been putting off!
      Our great mate Colin does just like you except he has a bag of scroggin, a mars bar (or two) and a couple of litres of “Tang”. That bloke can read, eat and drink Tang for hours and NEVER have to get up for a pee. A feat we are very jealous of.

      • Georgie says

        I am jealous he can stay awake for a few hours when in bed. Best sleeping pill ever, a good book read in bed – especially after a coupla Bundies. Zzzzz G

  7. Lindsay says

    I love historical fiction and fantasy and reading this type of book in the great outdoors lends a certain something to the reading experience. Lying in my tent on the West Highland Way in Scotland reading ‘The Pale Horseman’ by Bernard Cornwell was sublime!

    • Frank says

      Good choice Lindsay. Your experience in Scotland would have been fantastic!
      From Amazon:
      A Rousing Saga of the Saxons vs. the Danes & the Vikings!
      This novel is the sequel to THE LAST KINGDOM and it continues the exciting tale of Uhtred and King Alfred (better known as Alfred the Great). Uhtred and King Alfred’s relationship is still tenuous at best, however, Uhtred is has formed respect for this resilient king. Uhtred is still divided between his allegiance to King Alfred and his Danish foster-brother, Ragnar.

      Like the sound of this one!

  8. says

    I LOVE reading and feel lost without a book on the go.Right now I’m reading Stones into Schools by Greg Mortenson – author of Three Cups of Tea.It’s a winner.

    I just finished Open by Andre Agassi and couldn’t put it down despite not being a tennis fan. The City of Thieves by David Benioff was also a recent first class read about an improbable request for a dozen eggs during the siege of Leningrad. It was a gripping story – sad and funny at the same time.

    • Frank says

      Hi Leigh,
      Boy, we are going to have enough books in the “must read” pile for 12 months. The City of Thieves sounds interesting – Enemy at the Gate (different place of course) is one of Frank (and our son, Tom’s favourite movies)

    • Georgie says

      Another good tennis book, even for non-tennis fans, is Fletch, by Hugh Lunn. Amazing Australian history that few people know about. I love anything Lunn, he is a top bloke. G

  9. Diane says

    Fiction or travel stories. I tried bringing a history of English Literature once but found I would rather re-read packaging labels, and it would have been inpossible to swap it. Check out the op-shops; if you have only paid a dollar or so its easier to hand the book over or (gulp!) tear in half in order to share. Buying a damaged book – but check that there’s no missing pages! – can make it easier for bibliophils to cope with abandoning or dividing a tome…..

    • Frank says

      Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to leave a comment Diane. Agree, we usually take something vaguely trashy / popular rather than something heavy. Love the line about the labels…….. Great advice on the oppy buying (which is where Hannah, our middle daughter very successfullly clothes herself, with style!)

      Finally, thanks for teaching me a new word – Bibliophil :- a person who loves or admires books, esp. for their style of binding, printing, etc.; a collector of books

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