Books about the environment, energy access, the economy, and outdoor exploration have all influenced the creation of the Honnold Foundation, and the evolution of Alex's approach to the world. For Alex and the rest of the HF team, one of the best ways to spend a mandatory rest day is sitting down with a good book.

“I read all these books during my Free Solo movie tour,” Alex says about his newest book recommendations. “So at least being a movie star is good for something! I'm getting an education!”



Homo Deus, by Yuval Noah Harari

Alex says: “Brad Gobright recommended this to me a long time ago and I finally read it while flying too much for Free Solo screenings. I didn't really love it— it felt too futuristic and speculative. Too far out and unfounded. But gives you things to think about for sure.”

IndieBound / Amazon

The Long Walk, by Sławomir Rawicz

Alex says: “This is an epic story about a Polish POW escaping a Russian labor camp during World War II. I thought this was amazing as I read it until I mentioned it to Jimmy Chin, who told me that it was all fake. Sadly, after researching it a bit, i discovered that Jimmy was right. I wouldn't encourage anyone to read it, since it's fake…”

IndieBound / Amazon

21 Lessons for the 21st Century, by Yuval Noah Harari

Alex says: “I liked this book much more than Homo Deus. In fact, it felt like it was the book that I was expecting from Homo Deus. It seemed more relevant and more important for my own life. I rather enjoyed it.”

IndieBound / Amazon

The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander

Alex says: “This book was given to me by a friend whose copy had tons of underlined and highlighted passages. It made an already incredibly powerful book even more meaningful.  This book fundamentally changed the way I think about crime and incarceration in the United States. I'd strongly encourage every US citizen to read it.”

IndieBound / Amazon

Are Prisons Obsolete, by Angela Davis

Alex says: “Short answer: yes. This was a good follow up to The New Jim Crow and posed more questions about the United States justice system. Or lack thereof.”

IndieBound / Amazon

Karakoram, by Steve Swenson

Alex says: “Steve is one of the kindest men in climbing, and it was a pleasure to read his book about 30 years or so of climbing experience in the Karakoram. His expeditions and climbs are inspiring in their own right, but the life he's lived outside of climbing is maybe more impressive. And I'm hoping to climb in Pakistan this year so this was a great primer.”

IndieBound / Amazon

Measure What Matters, by John Doerr

Alex says: “This was given to me at a business event. I found it not super useful for my personal life— it probably means more to someone starting a tech company. It's all about Objectives and Key Results, which help organizations like Google align around goals. But for an individual, I think it's probably easier to just write a to do list in a journal.”

IndieBound / Amazon

Winners Take All, by Anand Giridharadas

Alex says: “This was given to me at an event by someone who thought it would be important for me to read. It was his library book, so I plowed through it in three days to make sure he could return it on time. As he predicted, it was thought provoking and relevant for me. Definitely worth a read for anyone in a position of privilege. “

IndieBound / Amazon

Prisoners of Geography, by Tim Marshall 

Alex says: “Geography determines much about global politics, and this book helps untangle the mess. I really enjoyed it and felt like I learned a lot. Made me want to learn more about geopolitics.”

IndieBound / Amazon

Factfulness, by Hans Rosling

Alex says: “I think this is a pretty darn good book. My biggest take away is probably to think about the world in terms of 4 levels of development, instead of trying to break it down into west/global south or developed/developing or whatever else. It has plenty of good ideas that are well presented.”

IndieBound / Amazon

Energy and Civilization: A History, by Vaclav Smil

Alex says: “This seems like it should be extremely boring since it's basically a textbook about energy use through the ages. But it's actually surprisingly readable and interesting. It's the first Smil book that I've read, I doubt it will be the last.”

IndieBound / Amazon


Want more?

If you’ve already powered through this reading list and are hungry for more, never fear! Alex and the HF team have plenty more recommendations for you. Or, if there’s a recommendation you’re dying to share with Alex, pass it along! If he likes it enough, your title might make its way onto the next book list.