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National Outdoor Book Awards

The Prize

The National Outdoor Book Awards (NOBA) is one of the outdoor world's largest and most prestigious book award programs. Click here for our index and the current award winners.

The purpose of the Awards is to recognize and encourage outstanding writing and publishing for books relating to the outdoors, nature, the environment. The National Outdoor Book Awards are administered by a non-profit, educational institution.


Nature and Environment Book Category: Books nominated for this category should be oriented to general audiences and deal with nature, natural history, and the outdoor environment. Fictional works are not eligible.

Award Year Title and Author(s)
2005 Sea Turtles: A Complete Guide to their Biology, Behavior and Conservation by James R. Spotila.
It won't take long: open this new, beautifully produced book, you'll find yourself hopelessly caught up in the life of sea turtles. Why is this book so captivating? The photography for one. It's simply divine. And so is the accompanying text. Author James Spotila is a marine biologist who has spent his career studying these magnificent creatures of the sea, and he writes with authority, spirit and passion.
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2004 The Snowflake: Winter's Secret Beauty by Kenneth Libbrecht. Photography by Patricia Rasmussen.
John Muir called them snow flowers. Thoreau described them as sweepings from the floor of heaven. For ages, snow crystals have captured the attention of poets and writers. In more recent times particularly the last couple of decades scientists have learned much about these seemingly simple but incredibly complex minute wonders. Yet little of that scientific work has been available to the layman. Until now, and it's all packaged in an elegant and splendidly designed book. Author and researcher Kenneth Libbrecht clearly explains the processes by which crystals are formed and how to identify major crystal types. The highlight of the book is the exquisite and mesmerizing photography of Patricia Rasumussen which remind us why these sweepings of heaven continue to astonish and amaze.
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2003 Ice Island: Expedition to Antarctica's Largest Iceberg by Gregory S. Stone
In the Year 2000, a mammoth iceberg calved off Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf. The iceberg, known as B-15 was the world's largest, 4,500 square miles in size and holding enough fresh water to supply the United States for five years. This is the story of the team of scientists and divers who set off in a small research ship named Braveheart to study a portion of the iceberg. Richly illustrated and beautifully designed, it's a marvelous story about adventure, science and the future of humankind.
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2002 Down to Earth: Nature's Role in American History by Ted Steinberg
In this fascinating and ground-breaking book, Steinberg investigates American history from a new and unique perspective: from that of the natural environment. He argues convincingly that events as diverse as colonization, the industrial revolution, the civil war, the western gold rush and many others were shaped and influenced by nature. It's an important seminal work and one that leads toward a better understanding of the interrelationship of man and the environment.
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2001 Wild Solutions: How Biodiversity is Money in the Bank by Andrew Beattie and Paul Ehrlich
Eminent ecologists Beattie and Ehrlich team up in this text for a careful examination of the earth's biological diversity. Wild Solutions shows how the natural systems that surround us play an important role in protecting our basic life-support systems. Based on a solid and well-developed premise, it's a convincing book conveying a powerful and urgent message.
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2000 Wildlife Wars: The Life and Times of a Fish and Game Warden by Terry Grosz
Wildlife Wars is the absorbing story of one man's 30-year struggle to protect wildlife in America. This is what it's like on the front lines. Terry Grosz, a natural and gifted story teller, brings us face to face with a captivating cast of characters on both sides of the law as he matches wits with poachers, commercial hunters, and others who are bent on destroying heritage. If you start this book, you won't want to put it down. It's that good.
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Penguin Planet: Their World, Our World by Kevin Schafer
Some of the most endearing creatures of all of nature are penguins. They've often been photographed, but never have they been captured in such vivid detail and in all their intimate and strutting glory as in Penguin Planet. But Kevin Schafer not only takes sumptuous pictures, he writes well in an engaging style, generously complementing an affectionate portrait of the world's most popular bird.
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Islands of Hope: Lessons from North America's Great Wildlife Sanctuaries by Phillip Manning
Naturalist Phillip Manning visits ten wildlife preserves in four North American countries, investigating the animals and ecosystems that the sanctuaries protect. In a simple and understanding style, Manning helps readers learn how refuges work, their history and the challenges facing them. There is caution, of course, in the book's message, but mostly the message is of abiding hope for the future.
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Washington's Mount Rainier National Park: A Centennial Celebration by Tim McNulty
Mount Rainier, published on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the park, is an absolutely stunning book filled with breathtaking photography. Large format books are often accompanied by dull, inane text, but not this one. The mountain and its surrounding environment are described in beautiful, heart-felt prose. A sensitive and synchronous collaboration between writer, photographer and publisher, this books succeeds wonderfully. Every sacred mountain should have its story so handsomely told.
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1998 The Columbia: Sustaining a Modern Resource by Tim Palmer
Tim Palmer, in one of his finest works on rivers, celebrates the beauty and natural resources of the Columbia. Taking readers from one tributary to another across the vast and varied Pacific Northwest landscape, he describes the river's watershed, the intricate pattern of development, and its dwindling forests and salmon runs. He details what is wrong but also offers hope that responsible politics can redirect society toward a sustainable future.
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1997 Sharing the Wonder of Birds with Kids by Laura Erickson, illustrated by Kathryn Marsaa
This is a marvelous text on how to interest children in birding. It's also an equally marvelous text for teaching adults the basics of bird watching. The book is full of helpful hints and the writing is lively and entertaining. It even has jokes:
 Question: Why do birds fly south?
 Answer: Because it's too far to walk.
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Honorable Mentions
bulletListening to Whales: What the Orcas Have Taught Us by Alexandra Morton (2002)
bulletThe Southwest Inside Out: An Illustrated Guide to the Land and Its History by Thomas Wiewandt and Maureen Wilks (2002)
bulletFor Love of Wildness: The Journal of a U.S. Game Management Agent by Terry Grosz (2001)
bulletPacific Light: Images of the Monterey Peninsula by Douglas Steakley and poetry by Ric Masten (2001)
bulletThe Arctic Wolf: Ten Years with the Pack by David Mech (1998)


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The National Outdoor Book Award Categories
This is a non-profit, educational program. The winners are chosen by a panel of judges consisting of respected outdoor columnists, authors, educators, and book reviewers from throughout the country. In early November, the NOBA committee announces the winners of the nine categories that make up the awards program plus a set of books that achieved honorable mentions. The NOBA awards are given in nine different categories.
bulletChildren's Books
bulletDesign and Artistic Merit
bulletHistory and Biography
bulletInstructional and How-To
bulletNatural History Literature
bulletNature and Environment
bulletNature Guidebooks
bulletOutdoor Adventure Guidebooks
bulletOutdoor Classics
bulletOutdoor Literature

If you like this list of outdoor award winners, you may enjoy these additional lists of award winning books on mountaineering. Check out the winners (and finalists) of the following awards:

American Alpine Literary Award


Banff Mountain Book Awards


Boardman-Tasker Memorial Award for Mountain Literature


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