Books like Wild, the Salt Path, Hovel in the Hills?
March 29, 2019 5:54 AM   Subscribe

I enjoy reading non-fiction books about ordinary women doing quite extraordinary things. The books tend to involve persistence in the face of physical and psychological hardship and a pretty severe lack of money. The books should be written in a very down to earth, relatable style.

If I've loved Wild, the Salt Path, and Hovel in the Hills, what other books would you recommend? Thank you.
posted by hazyjane to Media & Arts (17 answers total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
"Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive", by Stephanie Land
posted by fso at 6:12 AM on March 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

Dervla Murphy's books about cycling around India, Siberia, and Central Asia
posted by Morpeth at 6:30 AM on March 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

Metafilter and Twitter’s favorite dogsled musher, Blair Braverman, wrote a book called Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube.
posted by matildaben at 6:40 AM on March 29, 2019 [4 favorites]

Educated by Tara Westover.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:46 AM on March 29, 2019 [4 favorites]

If the lack of money isn't absolutely essential, I'd suggest West with the Night by Beryl Markham, the first woman in Africa to obtain a pilot's license and the first woman to fly the Atlantic from east to west.

(Love this question, BTW. Thanks for asking it.)
posted by FencingGal at 7:11 AM on March 29, 2019 [2 favorites]

The Glass Castle (movie did not do it justice in my opinion)
Etched in Sand
Both are about childhoods of poverty, parents with mental illness and substance abuse issues and yet the authors overcame this to become extremely successful well educated women.
posted by maxg94 at 7:32 AM on March 29, 2019

Not sure if this is extraordinary but all the rest: Hammer Head:The Making of a Carpenter by Nina MacLaughlin is about an unemployed writer who takes a job as an apprentice carpenter.
posted by Botanizer at 9:28 AM on March 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

A Schoolteacher in Old Alaska: The Story of Hannah Breece by Jane Jacobs is a good read but a little difficult in terms of subject matter (she's there to "educate the natives" and a lot of it is first person and old timey) but I found it very interesting.
posted by jessamyn at 9:30 AM on March 29, 2019

I'm about halfway through Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, about growing up in Africa in the 70's during a revolution, and it's amazing. (The family is poor, but has 'good breeding', which, of course, is much more important than mere money.)
posted by Bron at 9:47 AM on March 29, 2019

Driven: A White-Knuckled Ride to Heartbreak and Back by Melissa Stevenson is a wonderful working-class memoir.
posted by veery at 10:40 AM on March 29, 2019

I don't know if the style matches but everything else you are looking for is in Helen Macdonald's biography H is for Hawk. It's an amazing book. In brief, Macdonald tenuous connections to society, job, family, even her place to live were broken in the mourning for the sudden death of her close father. With her 40s looming, jobless, essentially alone and adrift she takes up with a goshawk.
posted by zenon at 11:09 AM on March 29, 2019

Maybe Tracks by Robyn Davidson? In the 70s she decided to take a solo trek across the breadth of Australia, by camel; she had the financial backing of National Geographic, and the piece they did on her was what entranced me as a child, but this book gets a little deeper into her ambivalence about having to take that backing, so it may still suit.

She's one heck of an interesting writer regardless.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:44 AM on March 29, 2019 [2 favorites]

Check out Anne LaBastille's Woodswoman.
posted by gudrun at 12:45 PM on March 29, 2019

Thank you so much, every single one of these sounds like it will be right up my street!
posted by hazyjane at 12:58 PM on March 29, 2019

Grandma Gatewood's Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail, true story, unbelievable adventure of the first woman to hike the Appalachian trail, at the age of 67, mostly unprepared (think Keds and a hand sewn bag for her stuff) in 1955.
posted by j810c at 4:05 PM on March 29, 2019

A Place In The Woods, by Helen Hoover (or, really, pretty much any of her books: The Gift of the Deer; The Years of the Forest). She and her husband gave up professional lives in Chicago for the woods of Minnesota and she wrote about their struggles to live their dream. I loved her books so much that I tracked them down over the years and they are books I reread over and over again.
posted by annieb at 5:46 PM on March 29, 2019

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