Harris Center Reads: Adventures on the Water

June 11, 2021
An open book lying on a sandy beach, with driftwood in the foreground and a calm blue ocean in the background. (photo © Ben White via Unsplash)

Take to the Water

Welcome to Harris Center Reads — a curated list of good reads for curious naturalists of all ages! As summer cranks up, beat the heat with a watery adventure. Spend three days in a canoe, surf the African coast, or survive alone on an abandoned island. Whatever you choose, these books are sure to inspire.

For Adults

Hudson Bay Bound: Two Women, One Dog, Two Thousand Miles to the Arctic by Natalie Warren. Follow along with the first two women to make an epic 85-day canoe trek from Minneapolis to Hudson Bay. As they navigate challenges both physical and emotional, Natalie Warren and Ann Raiho experience the pleasures and perils of wilderness, wildlife, and the people they meet along the way.

The Pacific Alone: The Untold Story of Kayaking’s Boldest Voyage by Dave Shively. This story of grit, determination, and survival in the vast toss of a wild ocean traces Ed Gillet’s audacious journey from California to Hawaii — by kayak. Winner of the 2019 National Outdoor Book Award for Outdoor Literature.

AFROSURF by Mami Wata. Hot off the presses, this bodacious book documents and celebrates the rich tradition of African surf culture through photographs, essays, interviews, art, and even recipes. Join some of Africa’s finest photographers, thinkers, writers, and surfers as they hang ten from Morocco to Mozambique and beyond! All profits from the sale of this colorful compendium will go to support the African surf therapy organizations Waves For Change and Surfers Not Street Children.

Picture Books for Kids

Three Days in a River on a Red Canoe by Vera B. Williams. This classic story of a family’s camping trip down a river in a red canoe is the perfect read for families considering canoe camping. A staff pick from naturalist Susie Spikol, who describes it as one of her daughter’s early favorites.

One-Dog Canoe by Mary Casanova and Ard Hoyt. A sweet romp of a story about a little girl, her dog, and their unexpected canoe adventure. Humorous and told in rhyme, this tale is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.

Hattie & Hudson by Chris Van Dusen. Meet adventurous Hattie, who paddles out on a lake every morning looking for wild things. One day, her singing lures a great monster from the depths of the lake. What happens next will delight readers of all ages.

For Teens

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. A classic and award-winning tale of survival, wilderness, and independence by acclaimed children’s book author Scott O’Dell. When 12-year-old Karana finds herself on a deserted island in the Pacific Ocean, she must figure out how to survive. In fact, she manages to carve out a life for herself on the island for 18 years. This work of historical fiction is based on the life of a young Nicoleño woman who spent 18 years in isolation on San Nicolas Island, one of eight Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California.

Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk. Found floating as an infant in the ocean, Crow lives a quiet life on an island off of Massachusetts until a mysterious fire across the sea calls her out of her solitude. Winner of the 2018 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction.

Where to Find These Books

BUY. We’d like to give a special shout-out to our local bookseller, Toadstool Bookshops in Keene and Peterborough! They’re open for in-person shopping, and they also sell online.

BORROW. In addition, most local libraries are now open for in-person visits. They also offer a wide variety of eBooks and other digital options. Check with your town library for more information.