2011 at 8am Posted by Rebecca Joines Schinsky
The Bare Necessities is a series in which authors and book industry professionals share annotated reading lists of books they love.
Many of us dream of growing up to become explorers, but it’s a select few who ever have the opportunity to add the the title to their resume. Mireya Mayor is one of the lucky few, and she has written a wonderful memoir about her experiences entitled Pink Boots and a Machete: My Journey from NFL Cheerleader to National Geographic Explorer that is out today from National Geographic Books. She’s here today with a diverse jungle version of the ever-popular “desert island list.”
One of the many questions I get asked as an explorer is “what is the one item you could never leave without on an expedition”. Well, I hate to break it to everyone, but there is of course no magical ‘one item’. On the contrary, there are actually a slew of obvious ones needed to survive. For example, if I found myself deep in the Amazon rainforest with no village in sight after poachers stripped me of all my possessions, a toothbrush (which I ordinarily cannot live without), would suddenly not be at the top of my ‘need’ list. Though I have yet to be robbed by poachers, I was left stranded after my plane crashed in Congo with no belongings and on an ordinary basis I do spend most of my time in remote, unexplored jungles where there is no running water or electricity, with little more than a backpack.
Since my gear is strapped to my back for endless miles on end, I need to keep my luxuries to a minimum. Having said that, it should also be noted that any sort of entertainment past sundown is limited, save for singing a few songs around a campfire. But since my voice would achieve nothing more than scaring off the very animals I am there to observe and study, the better alternative is to retire to my tent with a good book. These are some of the books I would want the poachers to leave with me:
Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley and Livingstone by Martin Duggard
When I was selected to be one of four ‘elite explorers’ to participate in Mark Burnett’s reality TV show, Expedition Africa in which we were to retrace the footsteps of Henry Morton Stanley’s famous search for Dr. David Livingstone, I immediately began reading this book. I found it almost impossible to put down. It was full of suspense, drama and realities I know to be true of expeditions. And yes, it leads to the famous uttering, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume.” It’s an adventure must-read.
The Lost City of Z by David Grann
Percy Fawcett was one of the last notable amateur explorers and David Grann really brings him to life while weaving in his own personal journey into the Amazon. Many of Fawcett’s journal entries read like my own and I couldn’t help but feel a kinship of sorts. Anyway, you love adventure? Read this.
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
This could very well be both the funniest and greatest war novel I have ever read. And I don’t even like war novels. But Heller starts his stories off as pure comedic parody, takes them into to the strange otherworldly, right before he converts it into a frightening tragedy. And yet, somehow, it ends jubilantly. That description is not so different from my life, but that’s a whole other story.
In the Shadow of Man by Jane Goodall
Yes, Jane wrote the foreword to my book. But no, as you can probably all guess, that is not the reason she is on my list. Jane Goodall has done more for apes than any other person has, hands down. In the Shadow of Man, aside from its scientific value, is an insightful and compelling read, beautifully written by the woman who I have idolized since I was a little girl chasing lizards in my backyard.
Unchartered TerriTORI by Tori Spelling
I may run around waist deep in swamps, and sometimes not shower for days (not by choice), but at the end of the day I’m also a wife, mom and girlie-girl. Tori Spelling is a mom to two small children (like me) trying to find a happy balance between family and career (like me). Also, mini-moguls need love too.