Canoeing and Kayaking Books

I have finally completed cataloging my paddling book collection as I was finding it more and more difficult to keep track of the titles I already owned so deciding whether to buy a particular title when it became available was a real challenge.   My final tally was 539 titles, the challenge now is to ensure that it is kept up to date as each new title arrives through the door.
It has proved to be a fascinating exercise and I re-discovered many kayaking gems which I had read years ago but which had slipped from my memory over the years.  In particular I have been motivated to read again many of the books which describe canoeing on the rivers of North America, some from the early part of the 20th century whilst others are more recent. One of my favourite paddling books of all time must be “Water and Sky” by Alan Kesselheim, it is well worth seeking out a copy.
Although it is not a definite bibliography of canoeing and kayaking it is a fairly comprehensive list so if anybody would like a copy, perhaps as a starting point for their own collection, then please get in touch and I will forward you a copy.

 A selection of sea kayaking titles, most from North American authors, although clearly there are a number by British authors such as Derek Hutchinson.  The sea kayaking titles alone occupy nearly 4 metres of shelf space on their own.
 A few recently acquired titles including a French sea kayaking manual.  The older titles, for example the classic “Canoe in Australia” by Raven Hart, first published in 1948 can often be found in sites such as ebay but regular monitoring is required plus a pre-set budget otherwise you could get really carried away. 
 The glass fronted bookcase for some of the more delicate/valuable titles.  This was a necessary purchase as I ended up with quite a valuable title in 1996 which I wanted to protect.  A first edition of “Northern Lights” by Spencer Chapman, which is signed by the author and inside was the original cutting from The Times of the 7th September 1932 announcing the death of Gino Watkins, whilst kayaking off the east coast of Greenland.
I did tell the BCU about the book, as it was in an antiquarian book sellers in London, and I happened to be at a meeting in Nottingham later the same day.  The BCU declined the offer of this important title but fortunately my wife decided to purchase the book for Christmas for me.
Many people are surprised by the number of paddling books which are available and it is a market which is growing all the time.  It is just another aspect of this hobby of ours.

2 thoughts on “Canoeing and Kayaking Books

  • February 7, 2012 at 23:28

    Hi Will. If you send me your e mail address to I will let you have a copy of the list. What I haven't included so far are those titles which are only available for the Kindle etc but which is a growing area.

  • February 7, 2012 at 19:47

    Interesting stuff and I'm surprised at the number – I've always felt kayaking a much neglected sport when you consider the reams of literature generated by mountaineering for instance…
    Would certainly be interested to see your list if I may?

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