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2021 NATIONAL OUTDOOR BOOK AWARD WINNERS ANNOUNCED
The story of a remarkable ski journey across northwest Canada is one of thewinners in this year’s National Outdoor Book Awards.
Written by Anders Morley and titled This Land of Snow, the book took top honors in the Journeys category. The Journeys category is new this year and is one of ten highly competitive categories that make up the National Outdoor Book Awards.
A total of 15 books were chosen as winners in this year's contest which is celebrating its 25th year. Sponsors of the program include the National Outdoor Book Awards Foundation, Idaho State University and the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education.
“My hat is off to Anders Morley,” said Ron Watters, the chair of the National Outdoor Book Awards. “He has done an outstanding job with this book. It’s one of the finest narratives of an outdoor adventure that I’ve run across.” In the book, Morley tells the story of a ski journey that took him hundreds of miles across Northwest Canada, from the Pacific Ocean, all the way across three provinces, finally ending in Manitoba.
“What makes this book rise above others,” said Watters, “is that the narrative is a multifaceted adventure, bringing in elements of culture, character, and humor, all of which overlay Morley's dogged perseverance. It’s what great adventure writing is all about.”
Another category in the contest is Natural History Literature. Two books were selected as winners. One of the books was about flies. Covered in the book are insects such as mosquitoes, gnats and house flies.
“To tell you truth, I was not looking forward to reading an entire book on flies,” said John Miles a judge and former dean and professor of Environmental Studies at Western Washington University. “But much to my surprise, I was fascinated by the book!”
Miles explains that author Jonathan Balcombe approached the book in a lively, conversational way. “He injects humor throughout. He elevates a mundane subject with fine writing, and is a masterful interpreter of scientific literature on the subject.”
The other winner in the Natural History Literature category is Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard. Simard is a forestry scientist and has done groundbreaking research on the way trees in a forest are connected by underground networks. A key part of that network is the “mother tree,” a tree of advanced age which provides carbon and nitrogen to younger trees, helping in their survival.
“This is a powerful and engrossing read,” said Miles. “It’s a scientific detective story, and I couldn’t stop reading until I found out how it turned out.”
The winner of the History/Biography category is Shook: An Earthquake, a Legendary Mountain Guide, and Everest’s Deadliest Day by Jennifer Hull.
“A great read!” said Melanie Wulf, a judge, and who has worked 20 years in the outdoor retail industry and is a Retail Sales Manager for REI.
In the book, Hull reconstructs the events leading up to and following the earthquake which rocked Nepal and the Himalayas in 2015, killing 22 climbers and support crew on Mt. Everest. Using interviews, expedition dispatches, documents, photos and other source material, “Jennifer Hull pieces together a compelling story,” says Wulf, “that kept me turning the pages.”
A book on the orca whale won the Nature and Environment category. The book, entitled Orca: Shared Waters, Shared Home, is by Lynda V. Mapes. Mapes is a journalist who reports on environmental and natural history topics for the Seattle Times.
“Lynda Mapes’s book is brilliantly done,” said John Miles. “It includes great photos and outstanding graphics and is chock full of information that clearly lays out the complex situation threatening the orca in the Pacific Northwest.”
For the first time since the awards program started 25 years ago, the judges ended up with a three-way tie in the outdoor literature category.
“Among the three literature winners,” said Watters, “is a captivating memoir about a woman who works in a fire lookout.” Lookout: Love, Solitude and Searching for Wildfire in the Boreal Forest, is by Trina Moyles. “Moyles is a gifted writer, able to make readers feel as though they are living the experience with her.”
Another Outdoor Literature winner is The Unreasonable Virtue of Fly Fishing, written by Mark Kurlansky. “Some books are pure pleasure to read and this is one,” said Watters. “It’s a bit of history, some personal experience, and a whole lot of fun.”
The third winner in the Outdoor Literature category is about a young woman who follows the monarch migration on a bicycle. Bicycling with Butterflies: My 10,201 Mile Journey following the Monarch Migration, is by Sara Dykman.
“What can I say about Sara Dykman? She is a marvel. She does this journey by herself, with no companion or support crew on a bicycle that she has cobbled together from spare parts,” said Watters. “What tenacity. What a journey!”
Complete reviews of these and the other 2021 winners may be found at the National Outdoor Book Awards website at: www.noba-web.org.
Here is a list of winners.
Journeys. Winner. This Land of Snow: A Journey Across the North in Winter by Anders Morley. Mountaineers Books, Seattle. ISBN 9781680512724
Journeys. Silver Medalist. America’s National Historic Trails: Walking the Trails of History by Karen Berger. Photography by Bart Smith. Rizzoli, New York. ISBN 9780847868858
History/Biography. Winner. Shook: An Earthquake, a Legendary Mountain Guide, and Everest’s Deadliest Day by Jennifer Hull. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque. ISBN 9780826361943
Natural History Literature. Winner. Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest by Suzanne Simard. Allen Lane/Penguin Canada, Toronto. 9780735237759
Natural History Literature. Winner. Super Fly: The Unexpected Lives of the World’s Most Successful Insects by Jonathan Balcombe. Penguin Books, New York. ISBN 9780143134275
Natural History Literature. Silver Medalist. Vesper Flights by Helen Macdonald. Hamish Hamilton/Penguin Canada. Toronto. ISBN 9780735235502
Outdoor Literature. Winner. Lookout: Love, Solitude and Searching for Wildfire in the Boreal Forest by Trina Moyles. Random House Canada, Toronto. ISBN 9780735279919
Outdoor Literature. Winner. The Unreasonable Virtue of Fly Fishing by Mark Kurlansky. Bloomsbury, New York. ISBN9781635573077
Outdoor Literature. Winner. Bicycling with Butterflies: My 10,201 Mile Journey Following the Monarch Migration by Sara Dykman. Timber Press, Portland. ISBN 9781643260457
Nature and the Environment. Winner. Orca: Shared Waters, Shared Home by Lynda V. Mapes. Braided River/Mountaineers Books, Seattle. ISBN 9781680513264
Design and Artistic Merit. Winner. Bison: Portrait of an Icon photography by Audrey Hall. Essay by Chase Reynolds Ewald. Gibbs Smith, Layton, UT. ISBN 9781423653752
Children's Category. Winner. Something Wonderful by Matt Ritter. Illustrations by Nayl Gonzalez. Pacific Street Publishing, San Luis Obispo, CA. ISBN 9780999896013
Classic. Winner. Sierra South / Sierra North by Elizabeth Wenk and Mike White. Wilderness Press/AdventureKEEN, Birmingham, AL. ISBN 9780899978840 / 9780899978864
Outdoor Adventure Guides/Instructional. Winner. The Packraft Handbook: An Instructional Guide for the Curious by Luc Mehl. Illustrations by Sarah K. Glaser. Luc Mehl, Anchorage. ISBN 9781578338542
Nature Guides. Winner. A Field Guide to the Mid-Atlantic Coast by Patrick J. Lynch. Yale University Press, New Haven. ISBN 9780300246469
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The National Outdoor Book Awards (NOBA) is a non-profit, educational program. It is not associated with any publisher or publishing interest.