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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.


Outdoor Classics Category: Books nominated for this award should be full length works related to outdoor adventure activities or nature and should be a work of unusual significance and lasting value in the outdoor field. The book must be in print.

Award Year Title and Author(s)
2004 Sea of Slaughter by Farley Mowat
This year, with the submission of Sea of Slaughter by Stackpole Books, the judges decided to take the opportunity to honor Farley Mowat for a lifetime of work of writing about the outdoors. Mowat's most well known, and perhaps most far reaching, book is Never Cry Wolf.  First written in 1964, Never Cry Wolf is often credited with helping change the public's image of wolves as wanton killers. Now several decades later, the wolf is seen correctly as an integral part of the wild environment, contributing to the balance between prey and predator. In Sea of Slaughter, Mowat centers on the marine environment of the North Atlantic coast from Labrador to Cape Cod. Backed up by extensive research, he documents the years of human exploitation and the resulting decimation of coastal sea life.  At the end of the book, Mowat offers one glimmer of hope.  He sees small signs that we are making progress towards protecting sea life.  "We may succeed," he writes "in making man humane... at last. And then the Sea of Slaughter may again become a Seat of Life." Let us hope that Mowat's wish may some day come to pass
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2004 Walden: A Fully Annotated Edition by Henry David Thoreau and edited by Jeffrey S. Cramer
Knowingly and unknowingly, many of the reasons that people offer these days why they participate in outdoor activities can be traced to the pages of Walden. "Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity," wrote Thoreau. Indeed, in part, we enjoy outdoor activities because they allow us to get away from the rush of modern society and simplify our lives even if it is just for a few days. For all its impact on the literary and outdoor worlds, however, Walden is not an easy book to read. That's why this new annotated version, edited by Thoreau scholar Jeffrey S. Cramer, is so invaluable. Cramer's explanatory notes accompanying Thoreau's text help readers understand the richness of his writing and why Walden is truly a great work of art.
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2003 Alone: The Classic Polar Adventure by Richard E. Byrd
Alone is the story of Richard Byrd's six months of isolation in a remote weather station in Antarctica in 1933. The lack of companionship, coupled with the long, black days of the interminable polar winter, extract a mental and physical toll from Byrd. Yet there is something else, some other sinister element at the root of the explorer's deteriorating condition. Almost before it is too late, Byrd discovers that he has been slowly poisoned by a carbon monoxide leak from a defective stove installation.
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2001 Wilderness and the American Mind: 4th Edition by Roderick Nash
This groundbreaking book, first published in 1967, is Roderick Nash's classic study of American attitudes toward wilderness. Beginning with the Old World's roots of opinion and reaching through the early twenty-first century, it ties together disparate elements of philosophy, history, politics, and popular attitudes into a concurrent and understandable whole. Scholarly and perceptive, Wilderness and the American Mind numbers among the great works on the outdoors.
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2000 A Sand County Almanac: Sketches Here and There by Aldo Leopold
What can be said of Sand County Almanac? It is simply one of the great works of nature literature and from it has sprung the environmental movement. This special edition of Sand County Almanac, published by the original publisher, is a tribute to Leopold, commemorating the one-hundredth anniversary of his birth. It was over 50 years ago that the book was first published, but his words and insights are as fresh as ever.
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1999 Cache Lake Country: Life in the North Woods by John J. Rowlands
This book, first published in 1947, carries the reader back to an earlier, simpler time in the twentieth century. It's about John Rowland's life on Cache Lake, a lake located in forests of northern Ontario reached only by canoe. Rowlands writes of the seasons, the wildlife, and his explorations with nearby northwoods neighbors including a Cree Indian chief and an artist. The book is interspersed with descriptions and drawings of Rowland's hand-made backwoods inventions and woodcraft projects of all manner and shape. Full of a down-to-earth eloquence and commonsensical backcountry wisdom, it's a cozy and heartwarming book to curl up with.
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1998 Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills by Don Graydon and Kurt Hanson
Freedom of the Hills is the classic English-language text on mountaineering and the best selling climbing instruction book of all time. First published in 1960 and now on its sixth edition, this authoritative and expansive book has evolved with the times, while maintaining its high and exacting standards. It is an essential part of any outdoor library.
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Two in the Far North by Margaret Murie
This book, first written in the 1950s and still in print, is authored by the grand dame of the wilderness movement, Margaret Murie. Margaret has helped generations of men and women understand the need to preserve wild landscapes. In Two in the Far North, she describes her life in Alaska: her growing up in Anchorage and her adventurous trips into the Alaska wilderness with her husband and biologist, Olaus. It is a wonderful read and a true American wilderness classic.
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Honorable Mentions
bulletBackwoods Ethics: A Guide to Low-Impact Camping and Hiking by Laura and Guy Waterman (2002)


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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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