There’s nothing like a good book… either to get a dose of inspiration or to snuggle up with (and your favourite cuppa to go with it, obvs!). Here are some books by some kick-ass females that are some of our favourites at AQ HQ or have been recommended by some of you in the AQ community*. We’re sure there’s a LOAD more amazing reads out there so if you think there’s something missing, then give us a holler at firstname.lastname@example.org
*In no particular order and blurb taken from reviews, Amazon and Good Reads.
What Goes Around, a London cycle courier’s story – by Emily Chappell
What it’s about: Emily Chappell was never meant to be a cycle courier. She planned to earn her living using her mind rather than her legs. This is a book about discovery and belonging, connection and memory, choosing life’s uncharted course and the delicious sensation of just riding
Pants of Perspective – by Anna McNuff
What’s it about: The Pants of Perspective tells the tale of Anna’s incredible 3,000 kilometre solo running adventure along New Zealand’s Te Araroa trail. Running up to 52 kilometres a day and carrying up to 20kg on her back, alone through the wilderness of New Zealand, this adventure took her to the edge of her physical and mental limits.
Just a Little Run Around the World – by Rosie Swale Pope
What’s it about: After her husband died of cancer, 57-year-old Rosie set off to run around the world, raising money in memory of the main she loved. Followed by wolves, knocked down by a bus, confronted by bears, chased by a naked man with a gun and stranded with sever frostbite, Rosie’s breathtaking 20,000-mile solo journey is as gripping as it is inspiring.
Four Mums in a Boat
What’s it about: Brought together by their love of rowing, four mums in their 40s and 50s quickly became firm friends, and it wasn’t long before they cooked up a crazy idea: together, they were going to cross the 3,000 miles of treacherous ocean in the toughest row in the world, The Talker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. This is the story of how four friends together had the audacity to go on a wild, terrifying and beautiful adventure, not to escape life but for life not to escape them.
Beyond Impossible – by Mimi Anderson
What’s it about: When Mimi first started jogging on a treadmill as an unfit 36-year-old mother-of-three, she never imagined she’d go on to become a World-Record-breaking ultra runner. This incredible story of how an ordinary mum ran her way into the record books will inspire beginner runners and die-hard marathon devotees alike, proving that, no matter where life takes you, it’s never too late to achieve your dreams and do the impossible.
Wild – by Cheryl Strayed
What’s it about: At 22 years old, in the wake of her mother’s death, Cheryl Strayed thought she’d lost everything. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than 1000 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail alone. Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and healed.
Desert Snow: One Girl’s Take on Africa by Bike – by Helen Lloyd
What’s it about: Desert Snow is the story of one girl, one bike and 1000 beers in Africa. By daring to follow a dream and not letting fear prevail, Helen cycled 25,000km from England to Cape Town. Helen takes us on the journey through every high and low of her memories and misadventures. She describes a continent brimming with diversity that is both a world away from what she knows and yet not so different at all.
Alone in Antartica – by Felicity Ashton
What’s it about: Just before midnight on 24 November 2011, Felicity is left completely alone on the coast of Antartica. The isolation is instant and devastating. Only three people in the world have crossed Antarctica alone. The first two were men and both Norwegian. At the age of 34, British woman Felicity Ashton became the third and unlike her predecessors, she didn’t use kites or parasails to assist her. This gripping and inspirational account of personal endurance shows what you can achieve when you grit your teeth and decide just get through today in one piece.
Space Below My Feet – by Gwen Moffat
What’s it about: A mountaineering memoir by one of the UK’s foremost female climbers. Throughout this unique story, there are cutely observed accounts of mountaineering exploits as Moffat tackles the toughest climbs and goes on to become Britain’s leading female climber – and the first woman to quality as a mountain guide.
Revolutionary Ride: On the Road in Search of the Real Iran – by Lois Pryce
What’s it about: In 2011, at the height of tension between the British and Iranian governments, travel writer Lois Pryce found a note left on her motorcycle outside the Iranian Embassy in London. Intrigued, Lois decides to ignore the official warnings against travel and sets off along on a 3,000 mile ride from Tabriz to Shiraz, to try to uncover the heart of this most complex and incongruous country. This is the story of a people and a country, modern and rooted in tradition – the real contemporary Iran.
Dare to Do: Taking on the Planet by Bike and Boat – by Sarah Outen
What’s it about: On 1 April 2011, rower and adventurer Sarah Outen set off in her kayak from Tower Bridge for France. Her aim was to circle the globe entirely under her own steam – cycling, kayaking and rowing across Europe, Asia, the Pacific, North America, the Atlantic and eventually home. Sarah was hit with challenges but despite ill health and depression, giving up wasn’t an option. Dare to Do is a story of the kindness of strangers and the spirit of travel; a story of the raw power of nature, and of discovering your inner strength.
Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle – by Dervla Murphy
What’s it about: When Dervla Murphy was ten, she was given a bicycle and an atlas, and within days she was secretly planning a trip to India. At the age of 31, in 1963, she finally set off and this book is based on the daily diary she kept while riding. A lone woman on a bicycle (with a revolver in her trouser pocket) was an almost unknown occurrence and a focus of enormous interest wherever she went. Her resourcefulness and the blind eye she turned to personal danger and extreme discomfort were remarkable.
Runner: A Short Story about a Long Run – by Lizzy Hawker
What’s it about: An innate endurance and nature affinity with the mountains has led Lizzy to push herself to the absolute limits, including a staggering 320 kilometre run through the Himalayas, from Everest Base Camp to Kathmandu in Nepal. These ultimate challenges ask not just what the feet and legs can do, but question the inner thoughts and contemplations of a runner. Lizzy Hawker is an inspiration to anyone who’d like to see how far they can go, running or not.
Lone Traveller: One Woman, Two Wheels and the World – by Anne Mustoe
What’s it about: ‘You don’t have to be twenty, male and an ace mechanic to set out on a great journey. I’ve cycled round the world twice now. I’m not young. I’m not sporty, I never train and I still can’t tell a sprocket from a chainring or mend a puncture’. So speaks Anna Mustoe in the opening to this fascinating record of her second epic journey cycling around the globe from East to West, using historical routes as her inspiration.
Taking on the World: A Sailor’s Extraordinary Solo Race around the World – by Ellen MacArthur
What’s it about: The Vendee Globe around-the-world sailboat race is sailing’s ultimate challenge. A single-handed, non-stop race including 13,000 miles through the most dangerous waters. At 5″2, Ellen MacArthur, at 24 years old, was the youngest and smallest competitor in the 2001-2001 race. In an event dominated by older men of the elite, she was a long shot to even finishing. But on 11 February 2001, Ellen became the youngest sailor ever to finish, the first woman to earn a top-three placing and the second fastest person ever to do so alone.
Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart: An Adventure on the Pacific Crest Trail – by Carrot Quinn
What’s it about: Carrot Quinn fears that she’s become addicted to the internet, the city makes her numb, and she’s struggling to connect with others. In a desperate move, she breaks away from everything to walk 2,660 miles from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail – her first long-distance hike. Carrot faces many challenges, both physical and emotional. In the wilderness she becomes close with an electric group of strangers who are brought together on the trail by their one common goal: make it to Canada before the snow flies.