Books are magical – they can take you on an adventure without even leaving your home.  Reading is the best way to escape reality and transport yourself to another place.  When I am not able to go kayaking for whatever reason, I turn to books to distract myself and sometimes I even learn a thing or two.

For anyone else looking for books about kayaking, I have created this list.  It includes both kayaking stories, travel guides for kayakers, and kayaking reference books.  Basically, any books that keep you thinking about kayaking!

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Best Books about Kayaking

Reading about characters and their stories can be entertaining but when kayaking is involved it is so much better.  It doesn’t matter to me if it is about real-life or fiction.

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

Erik Weihenmayer is the first and only blind person to summit Mount Everest, but he didn’t stop there.  He kayaked solo through the thunderous whitewater of the Grand Canyon! The book is about more than his kayaking adventure though.  You can read about his adventures leading expeditions around the world with blind Tibetan teenagers,  helping injured soldiers climb their way home from war, and adopting a son from Nepal.  The book also talks about how other people who have faced obstacles and adversity have found ways forward that surpass logic and defy traditional thinking.

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Paddle Pilgrim: Kayaking the Fjords of Norway

After reading the story of this a month-long adventure on the magnificent Sogne and Hardanger Fjords in Norway, you will be inspired to go visit yourself.  This book is also about the author, David Ellingson, learning more about his Norwegian roots.  The photos are stunning and it’s well-written, so you won’t want to put it down.

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The River of Kings: A Novel

This is a story about two brothers who kayak downriver to spread their father’s ashes while searching for the truth behind his mysterious death. Their journey becomes intertwined with their father’s story, a river shrimper, and the historical figure Jacques le Moyne, an artist from the 16th century.  It’s not your typical novel, it’s historical fiction with some kayaking and family drama mixed in.

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Paddling North: A Solo Adventure Along the Inside Passage

It’s a remarkable tale of Audrey Sutherland’s decision at age 60, to undertake a solo, summer-long Alaskan voyage in an inflatable kayak.  Her philosophy was ‘Go simple, go solo, go now’ and that has carried her through more than 8,000 miles of paddling.  It’s such an inspirational story and as a bonus, the book also includes a few recipes.

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Best Kayaking Travel Guides

I love going kayaking on my vacations.  It’s a fun way to explore a new area, appreciate its natural beauty, and burn off some calories at the same time.

Fifty Places to Paddle Before You Die: Kayaking and Rafting Experts Share the World’s Greatest Destinations

This book is ideal for dreamers and those that love to keep a bucket list.  I am sure there are a few locations that you would never have thought of going for a kayaking trip.  The pictures will make you want to go to all the places.  It’s more than just a kayaking book as it might inspire you to also try rafting, canoeing, and stand-up paddleboarding.

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Paddling America: Discover and Explore Our 50 Greatest Wild and Scenic Rivers

This guide provides the information that you need for kayaking 50 Wild and Scenic Rivers across the USA.  Each chapter will contain an overview of the paddle along with a map, paddling guidelines and tips, GPS coordinates, put-in and takeout information, miles and directions, color photos, and anecdotal sidebars that give insight into the history of the area.

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Canoeing & Kayaking Florida (Canoe and Kayak Series)

Florida is definitely one of the best places to kayak in the US.  This guide gives you the all practical information (including river maps) to help you plan your kayaking adventure in Florida to go kayaking.  It has been recently updated to include a few more spots.  Even those familiar with Florida will find useful information.

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Best Kayak Books for Beginners

If you are a beginner level kayaker, spending time reading about kayaking is a fantastic way to learn more.  It may not substitute for time on the water, but it will help you improve your skills faster.

How to Paddle a Kayak: The 90 Minute Guide to Master Kayaking and Learn to Paddle Like a Pro

This is a great kayaking book for beginners because it is an easy read and has a lot of helpful information.  This handbook covers kayaking safety, common paddling mistakes, kayaking techniques, how to get into more extreme types of kayaking, and much more.  It is written by Scott Parsons who has been doing all types of water sports and camping since he was a kid.

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Fundamentals of Kayak Navigation: Master the Traditional Skills and the Latest Technologies

This book has been the authoritative source for small-boat navigation for the past 30 years! You will learn how to find and keep track of your position, how to chart and maintain an accurate course, adjust to changing conditions, and paddle safely and confidently. It covers everything you need to know, from traditional map and compass navigation through state-of-the-art electronic GPS navigation.

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Kayak Fly Fishing: Everything You Need to Know to Start Catching Fish

Kayak fishing has become incredibly popular in recent years.  This book can help covers techniques, tackle, gear, choosing the right boat (a fishing kayak perhaps?) and how to rig it, and strategies.  The author, Ben Duchesney, has spent years fishing from his kayak and writes for several top fishing publications.  If you want to be proficient fishing from your kayak, this book is the place to start.

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Did I miss anything? Please let me know about your top books about kayaking in the comments.  I would love to add more to my reading list.


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