Books about the environment, energy access, the economy, and the way we eat have all influenced the creation of the Honnold Foundation, and the evolution of Alex's approach to the world. Here at HF, we're strong believers in the power of a good book-- and so we've selected 23 of Alex's favorites (and some color commentary) to give you a peek behind the scenes.
"If you look at all the books together," Alex says, "it gives a pretty good sense of how my brain works now.”
CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT
THE WORLD WITHOUT US, BY ALAN WEISMAN
Alex says: "I think about this book a lot. It’s interesting to imagine how the world would heal without us..."
THE SIXTH EXTINCTION, BY ELIZABETH KOLBERT
Alex says: "Very depressing. Educational, but depressing."
OVERVIEW: A NEW PERSPECTIVE OF EARTH, BY BENJAMIN GRANT
Alex says: "I loved this book, and follow @dailyoverview on Instagram. It helps give a global perspective."
THE RAMBUNCTIOUS GARDEN: SAVING NATURE IN A POST-WILD WORLD, BY EMMA MARRIS
Alex says: "I actually think of this book more than I expected to when I first read it - the idea of our random extra spaces (think highway medians) being nature really sunk in.
MONEY AND HOW WE SPEND IT
THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING: CAPITALISM VS CLIMATE, BY NAOMI KLEIN
Alex says: "Depressing. Good, but grim. Kind of like the economic version of The Sixth Extinction."
THE BETTER WORLD SHOPPING GUIDE: HOW EVERY DOLLAR CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE, BY ELLIS JONES
Alex says: "My sister bought this for me and signed it with the inscription: For Alex - In case you ever start giving a shit. Love, Stasia.” It was the beginning of a long process in which I’ve given more and more shits.
BUILT TO LAST: SUCCESSFUL HABITS OF VISIONARY COMPANIES, BY JIM COLLINS
Alex says: "I read Jim’s books because I once saw a quote where Tommy Caldwell said that Jim was his favorite author. That was before I knew Tommy really well so I couldn’t ask him about it - all I could do was read all the books. It's also worth saying that Jim Collins, besides being the best selling business author of all time or something like that, has also free soloed The Naked Edge (5 pitch 5.11c). Whoa!""
LET MY PEOPLE GO SURFING: THE EDUCATION OF A RELUCTANT BUSINESSMAN, BY YVON CHOUINARD
Alex says: "I have a ton of respect for Yvon both as a climber and a businessman. He’s definitely lived his life correctly."
WHAT WE EAT
IN DEFENSE OF FOOD: AN EATER’S MANIFESTO, BY MICHAEL POLLAN
Alex says: “Eat real food, mostly plants, not too much.” I think of that all the time. Words to live by."
EAT AND RUN: MY UNLIKELY JOURNEY TO ULTRAMARATHON GREATNESS, BY SCOTT JUREK
Alex says: “I’m good friends with Scott and his wife so I’m biased, but I found this book to be an inspiring tale of veganhood. Scott’s the man!”
EATING ANIMALS, BY JONATHAN SAFRAN FOER
Alex says: “This book made me care more about animal rights than anything else I’ve read. I’d already been vegetarian for years when I read it, but it made me appreciate the suffering of animals a lot more.”
THE DORITO EFFECT: THE SURPRISING NEW TRUTH ABOUT FOOD AND FLAVOR, BY MARK SCHATZKER
Alex says: "I remember nothing about this. Maybe the book is as empty as a Dorito..."
ADVENTURE & EXPLORATION
BARBARIAN DAYS, BY WILLIAM FINNEGAN
Alex says: "A true surfing lifer! Makes me hope that I can have that kind of love for climbing my whole life. This book was Jimmy Chin’s - I borrowed it in Antarctica after I finished all of mine... the beauty of real, paper books."
WITH BARE HANDS: THE TRUE STORY OF ALAIN ROBERT, THE REAL-LIFE SPIDERMAN, BY ALAIN ROBERT
Alex says: "This book was either translated to English by Google or by someone who didn’t actually speak English. But thankfully I speak French, so it made some sense anyway. But the climbing is amazing."
TO BE BRAVE, BY ROYAL ROBBINS
Alex says: "Royal is a total legend and I bought this book at a talk that he gave. It’s too bad that he didn’t have enough time to write more of his story before he died."
THE ENDURANCE: SHACKELTON’S LEGENDARY ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION, BY CAROLINE ALEXANDER
Alex says: "This is possibly the greatest adventure tale of all time. Must read!"
NO PICNIC ON MT. KENYA, BY FELICE BENUZZI
Alex says: "I read this right before climbing Mt Kenya. It was the proper primer. Made me grateful that I didn’t have to escape from a POW camp before undertaking my climb..."
QUEEN MAUD LAND ANTARCTICA, BY IVAR TOLLEFSEN
Alex says: "I read this in Antarctica and we referenced the photos all the time for beta and route descriptions. It’s a great, readable account of the first climbing trip to Queen Maud Land."
LIGHTING THE WORLD, BY JIM ROGERS AND STEPHEN P. WILLIAMS
Alex says: "A good reminder that there are 1 billion people on earth without access to power and that we should be doing something about it. Which is a big part of why I started the Honnold Foundation."
LETTER TO A CHRISTIAN NATION, BY SAM HARRIS
Alex says: "I loved this book - I wish I could give a copy to everyone in America. It’s freakin’ genius. I read it in a sitting. Two different times."
WEEP NOT, CHILD, BY NGUGI WA THIONG’O
Alex says: "I rarely read fiction. When I do, I make sure it’s depressing African fiction while on an expedition in Africa. But it was quite moving."
RULES FOR A KNIGHT, BY ETHAN HAWKE
Alex says: "Conrad Anker gave me this book and it’s freakin’ great. I’ve read it several times and given a few copies to friends. It makes me want to be a better knight."
ASTROPHYSICS FOR PEOPLE IN A HURRY, BY NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON
Alex says: "Fun, easy reading that reminds us of our place in the universe."
Download Alex's complete reading list, including 80 additional titles not listed here.