At MeatEater, we’re inundated with book recommendation requests for reading lists. Here’s the first of lists from the MeatEater Team, many more to come.
There’s a little of everything here from each of our contributors. You’ll find subjects as diverse as American history, hunting stories, advanced cooking techniques, man-eating predators, wilderness survival, and wildlife conservation. We think you’ll enjoy these titles as much as us.
The Oregon Trail by Francis Parkman
“This book chronicles Francis Parkman’s exploration of the Dakotas and Wyoming in 1846, including his travels with the Sioux in the Black Hills. The timing of Parkman’s trip makes it possible that he shared a camp with Crazy Horse when the warrior was just a young boy. Along with a detailed account of a difficult two-thousand mile expedition through the wilderness, the book includes a lot of buffalo hunting, as well as a surprising passage about killing bighorn sheep with rocks,” via Steven Rinella.
The Flavor Matrix by James Briscione
“I am often asked for advice on how to pair flavors together with wild game. Instead of only thinking about game meat as an exclusive category to which I match other flavors to, I try to focus on all the other ingredients on the plate being cohesive with each other. The Flavor Matrix breaks down the art and science behind flavor pairing by highlighting molecular commonalities in food. Use this as a road map to help you navigate new flavor combinations and inspire you to push beyond the familiar. One of my favorite food pairings suggested in this book is caramel and fermented fish sauce with a recipe to make a spicy fish sauce peanut brittle,” via Danielle Prewitt.
Travels in Greater Yellowstone by Jack Turner
“The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho encompasses one the most iconic and intact stretches of wild lands left in America’s lower 48 states. Being an area that is loved and used by so many, it’s also become ground zero for some of the nation’s most heated debates about wildlife, conservation, and natural resources. By way of a dozen trips in the GYE, Jack Turner examines some of the most contentious issues surrounding the wild lands and wildlife of the Rocky Mountain West and what these examples might point to for the future of the American outdoors,” via Mark Kenyon.
What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe
“What if all the lightning in the world struck the same place? What if humans self-fertilized like plants? How quickly could you drain the ocean through a 10 meter hole? Tackling these ridiculous questions (and more) is former NASA roboticist Randall Munroe. His responses find a way to be creative and witty while using science and simulations. Each explanation is a thought-provoking masterpiece that will give outdoorsmen a better understanding of the natural world,” via Spencer Neuharth.
Monster of God: The Man-Eating Predator in the Jungles of History and the Mind by David Quammen
“David Quammen is one of our country’s greatest natural history writers. In Monster of God, he examines the complicated history of human relationships with the world’s most fearsome predators. Here in North America, where these occurrences are extremely rare and random, we have a detached and incomplete understanding of the people and places where man-eaters still pose an everyday threat. In India, Africa, Siberia, and Romania, getting eaten alive by lions, crocodiles, tigers, and brown bears is still a very real possibility on a daily basis. Meanwhile, the man-eaters themselves face threats which diminish our once deep connection to the wild,” via Brody Henderson.
Forty-four Years of the Life of a Hunter: Being Reminiscences of Meshach Browning, a Maryland Hunter by Meshach Browning
“As a native Marylander and a kid who grew up hunting the hills of Garrett County in the western portion of the state, reading the dispatches of Meshach Browning is like a very familiar trip back in time. Browning wrote the original words of this book with a turkey quill as he lived and hunted from the late 1790s through his death in 1859 of pneumonia. Browning can be counted as a hero of mine, both as a woodsman and a hunter, and an example of a bygone era of wilderness and damn fine adventure. He called the Allegheny mountains home and became famous as a bit of a hunting profiteer, killing thousands of deer and hundreds of bears during his life. His book details what he ate, how he lived, and the rough country in which he thrived. A tale that makes me, as a modern hunter, feel like a soft, coddled kid who would likely have crumbled in the time of rough characters like Browning,” via Ben O’Brien.
The Alaskan Chronicles: An Unwashed View of Life, Work, and Fly Fishing by Miles Nolte
“Nolte’s story is a refreshingly honest look into the life of a fly-fishing guide. The book was originally written as a daily diary that Miles was posting on the Drake internet forum before being convinced to turn it into a book. Written with humor, The Alaskan Chronicles is sure to make the reader laugh — as well as rethink any grand dreams of becoming a full-time fishing guide,” via April Vokey.
Narrow Escapes and Wilderness Adventures by Ben East
“Ben East specialized in crafting adventure stories out of everyday hunting and fishing outings where people took chances or made routine mistakes that led to life and death struggles. Many of these stories wouldn’t happen today, provided you carry bear spray, keep your smartphone charged, and bring spare batteries for your GPS unit. Likewise, the stories in this book inspire me to never forsake those items,” via Patrick Durkin.
Heartsblood by David Peterson
“I grew up on the farm hunting upland birds and whitetails in Kansas. My deployment to Iraq changed my perspective on killing, so I stopped hunting until I could pursue it again with a clear mind. Heartsblood came along during that personal path and was an incredible resource. Peterson examines primitive and modern hunting’s relationship with humans under a microscope. He asks questions and draws conclusions from philosophy and science. This is a superb foundational read if you are building your belief structure or would like to reconnect,” via Morgan Mason.