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Nature and outdoor engagement: Perkins’ Recommended Reads

Adventure through the outdoors from the comfort of your home with this month's books about exploring the wonders of nature.

This list of titles available through our Perkins Library features some amazing accomplishments of people who have visual or other disabilities and who have made an impressive mark on various sports or outdoor recreational activities. Other titles describe inspiration that can be obtained through recreational activities outdoors or just contemplating the natural world. Happy reading and enjoy your experiences in the world of the Great Outdoors, no matter which activity you choose!

Digital book (DB), braille (BR), large print (LT), and audio described videos (DVD) copies of these titles are available from the Perkins Library or the Worcester Talking Book Library. Please contact the library to order any of these books.

Prepared by Linda Rossman


Perkins Library

Alpine Achievement: A Chronicle of the United States Disabled Ski Team

by Lori J. Batcheller

DB 55239, Available as BARD Download

A brief history of skiing in which adaptive equipment is used to compensate for physical disabilities. Discusses the challenges faced by world-class athletes including vision-impaired skiers and amputees who participate in the United States Disabled Ski Team. 2002.

Download Alpine Achievement, DB 55239

Always Climb Higher

by Jeff Pagels

DB 80208, Available as BARD Download

Paralympian Pagels discusses being paralyzed in a 1984 tree-cutting accident, his recovery, becoming involved in wheelchair sports, and eventually going to the Paralympics in Albertville, France, and winning gold medals. Explains how he then went on to climb mountains using a specialized chair. 2014.

Download Always Climb Higher, DB 80208

Blind Courage

by Bill Irwin

DB 36368, Available as BARD Download

A variety of problems involving family, alcoholism, and blindness prompted middle-aged Bill Irwin’s decision to tackle the 2,000-mile-long Appalachian Trail with his dog guide Orient. For eight months in 1990, the self-proclaimed non-hiker made his way along the sometimes treacherous trail—a feat he credits to God. In describing the trip, Irwin stresses the helpfulness of the other “thru-hikers” he met. 1992.

Download Blind Courage, DB 36368

Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver

by Mary Oliver

DB 94183, Available as BARD Download

Collection of more than two hundred poems by Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Upstream (DB 87127) and Felicity (DB 84944) originally published between 1963 and 2015. Curated by Oliver herself to highlight poems that she thought best represented her work in observing the natural world. 2017.

Download Devotions, DB 94183

The Encyclopedia of Sports and Recreation for People with Visual Impairments

by Andrew Leibs

DB 76499, BR 19943, Available as BARD Download

Profiles thirty-six sports and recreational activities, from alpine skiing to yoga, that are adapted for individuals with low or no vision. Lists camps, products, and organizations and highlights athletes, coaches, and participants in a variety of programs. 2013.

Download The Encyclopedia of Sports and Recreation for People with Visual Impairments, DB 76499

Download Braille, The Encyclopedia of Sports and Recreation for People with Visual Impairments, BR 19943

I Can Do That!: Adventuring with Disabilities

by Andrea Jehn Kennedy and Craig P. Kennedy

DB 69444, Available as BARD Download

This guide to sports and travel for people with disabilities features interviews with world-class athletes, including a paraplegic skier. Describes forty-five individual and team sports adapted for people of varying physical abilities. Covers rules and equipment. 2007.

Download I Can Do That!, DB 69444

Nature as Spiritual Practice

by Steven Chase

DB 75081, Available as BARD Download

Author examines the spiritual side of nature and offers exercises that the reader can practice to connect with the physical world. Discusses earth’s influence on Christian identity and combines the themes of classical spiritual teachings with nature writing. Also explores the “green beatitudes.” 2011.

Download Nature as Spiritual Practice, DB 75081

No Barriers: A Blind Man’s Journey to Kayak the Grand Canyon

by Erik Weihenmayer

DB 87291, BR 21928, LT 22326, Available as BARD Download

The author of Touch the Top of the World (DB 51505) lost his sight as a teen but still seeks adventure around the world. He shares his experience kayaking the Colorado River and his efforts to help other blind people, especially children, learn to live adventurous lives. Some strong language. Commercial audiobook. 2017.

Download No Barriers, DB 87291

Download Braille, No Barriers, BR 21928

No End in Sight: My Life as a Blind Iditarod Racer

by Rachael Scdoris and Rick Steber

DB 61948, BR 16418, Available as BARD Download

Twenty-one-year-old author discusses her Oregon childhood, her experience with low vision, and her determination to become a professional sled dog racer. Describes being introduced to the sport by her father, becoming the youngest athlete to win a five-hundred-mile race, and the obstacles she overcame to qualify for the Iditarod. 2006.

Download No End in Sight, DB 61948

Download Braille, No End in Sight, BR 16418

No Finish Line: My Life as I See It

by Marla Runyan

DBC 16986, BR 14414, Available as BARD Download

Memoirs of the first legally blind athlete to compete in the Olympic Games. Discovering that attitude can be more disabling than vision loss, Marla describes how she overcame difficulties at school by playing the violin and becoming a competitive runner. 2001.

Download No Finish Line, DBC 16986

Download Braille, No Finish Line, BR 14414

The Great Conversation: Nature and the Care of the Soul

by Belden C. Lane

DB 95994, BR 22829, Available as BARD Download

Theologian presents an argument for spiritually centered environmentalism. Uses personal experiences along with writings of saints and sages from multiple religious traditions to illustrate the ways nature acts as a teacher. In a chapter on birds, he discusses sandhill cranes, the Platte River, and Sufi poet Farid ud-Din Attar. 2019.

Download The Great Conversation, DB 95994

Download Braille, The Great Conversation, BR 22829

The Humane Gardener: Nurturing a Backyard Habitat for Wildlife

by Nancy Lawson

DB 88880, Available as BARD Download

A journalist who writes for the Humane Society challenges gardeners to rethink ideas about what is welcome in a backyard garden. She encourages planting native plants, allowing native weeds, and encouraging the presence of wildlife, even wildlife usually thought of as pests. Includes profiles of gardeners who have embraced this philosophy. 2017.

Download The Humane Gardener, DB 88880

101 Accessible Vacations: Travel Ideas for Wheelers and Slow-Walkers

by Candy B. Harrington

DB 67755, Available as BARD Download

Author of Barrier-Free Travel (DB 61293) provides a guide to United States destinations for people with mobility problems. Details cities, national parks, historical attractions, and recreational opportunities under categories such as big city, the great outdoors, road trips, cruises, small towns, and family fun. Covers lodging. 2008.

Download 101 Accessible Vacations, DB 67755

This Strange Wilderness: The Life and Art of John James Audubon

by Nancy Plain

DB 83852, Available as BARD Download

Details the life of John James Audubon (1785-1851), an artist and naturalist, who set about documenting in both words and images the birds of North America, culminating in his masterpiece, The Birds of America. For senior high and older readers. 2016.

Download This Strange Wilderness, DB 83852


ed. Marc Maurer

DB 56407, BR 14827, Available as BARD Download

Seven blind persons recall how they have reached the summit as they scaled “personal mountains.” “To Climb Every Mountain” describes Erik Weihenmayer’s successful ascent of Mt. Everest. Other chapters recount a blind student’s camp counselor job and a teenager’s conquest of the fear of losing her physical freedom on becoming blind. 2002.

Download Summit, DB 56407

Download Braille, Summit, BR 14827

Walking: One Step at a Time

by Erling Kagge

DB 95316, Available as BARD Download

An explorer offers his thoughts on the activity of walking. He believes that walking provides a natural time for thinking and creativity. It is also an antidote for the speed at which we live the rest of our lives. Translated from the original Norwegian. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2019.

Download Walking, DB 95316

Walking the Americas: 1,800 Miles, Eight Countries, and One Incredible Journey from Mexico to Colombia

by Levison Wood

DB 95893, Available as BARD Download

British explorer and author of Walking the Himalayas (DB 84780) recounts his travels by foot from the Yucatán in Mexico through Central and South America to Colombia. Describes people he meets, including indigenous tribes, refugees, and revolutionaries. Discusses the history of the land and challenges he faced. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2017.

Download Walking the Americas, DB 95893

Why We Swim

by Bonnie Tsue

DB 99409, Available as BARD Download

A journalist and lifelong swimmer explores the many reasons why humans, who are not natural-born swimmers, have always been drawn to water. Stories of swimming experiences range from athletes like Michael Phelps to an Icelandic fisherman who had to swim to survive in frigid waters. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2020.

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