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Adventure Library Book Review — The Great Outdoors: A User’s Guide

Author Background

The Great Outdoors is premised around author Brendan Leonard’s belief that everyone should be able to go on a great outdoor adventure. Even if you’ve never pitched a tent, Leonard thinks that the outdoors is within reach for all. An accomplished outdoorsman, Leonard enjoys climbing, biking, and just about any outdoor activity that you can think of. Mostly, though, he just likes to be outside. The Great Outdoors is a compilation of some of the knowledge he’s garnered over the years to help readers gain confidence in their abilities and enjoy the outdoors to their full potential.

Read if…

If you are just getting started on your outdoor adventures, Leonard’s book is a great pick. It gives a broad overview of the basics for almost every outdoor adventure and demystifies the technical jargon of outdoor activities. Plus, the book’s rubber cover makes it super packable to take on the go. If you’re looking for specifics, or a more technical guide, however, The Great Outdoors probably isn’t for you.

The Read

The Great Outdoors covers six broad categories: basics, the mountains, the water, the snow, camping, and survival. Inside, you’ll find tips and tricks that answer all the questions you’ve always had (i.e., how do I make a fire on a rainy day?) and even some you’ve never seriously thought about (i.e., how do I run away from a swarm of bees?). The question and answer style of the book makes it easy to read and fun to thumb through. Unfortunately, this format also makes it tricky to find a quick answer to a specific question. Leonard frequently intersperses jokes and amusing anecdotes in with his expertise.  These make the book more engrossing than a simple Q&A would be. I found myself reading sections that I would normally have no interest in, and can now proudly tell you what the screaming barfies are.

My favorite thing about The Great Outdoors is how down to earth it is. No question is too small to answer, no problem too basic to be legitimate. Leonard spares the reader the pretentiousness that is too often found in outdoor guide books. I found answers to questions that I had been embarrassed to ask, for fear of looking like a novice. Most importantly, after reading it, I felt like any outdoor adventure was within my reach.

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