What People Are Saying
"In the book, Harris recounts nine journeys to quite disparate parts of the world, from the High Arctic to Tasmania, carried out over the course of five decades. Yet, as different as the expeditions and challenges they present are, collectively, they reveal a common thread in terms of what motivates the explorer: a profound need to satisfy an insatiable curiosity and the need to experience places unknown firsthand. In short, Harris’s book defines the very nature of exploration." -- The Explorers Club Journal
"One of the most unique and enjoyable outdoors books I've read (and I've read a lot of them). What makes it great is that it isn't a tale of incredible achievement and struggle, it's a series of stories about long, usually solo, wilderness backpacking trips. These weren't first ascents or anything like that, but they were each uniquely challenging journeys and they were told in a genuine, observant, humble yet cocky way that felt so very familiar to me. Anyone who has spent a lot of time in strange places with a pack on their back will be able to relate to so much of what is in these pages. You can't help but read and feel the itch to be on the trail. Harris covers a lot - from Alaska, to Tasmania, to the Australian Outback, to rural Montana, to the far reaches of Peru. Each story is memorable, not just for descriptions of the treks, but also bits of history and odd facts, descriptions of the local towns and cultures, and great descriptions of the people he met along the way. Fun to read, it feels like a letter from an old friend. The author is a masterful and earnest storyteller, and his voice as an African-American outdoorsman is both unique and important." – R. A. in Goodreads.com
“I’ve read my share of books about the Appalachian Trail and other trails. Some are nothing more than exercises in ego. Others were an act of vandalism against trees. But then there are those you cannot put down once you start getting into it. J.R. Harris’s “Way Out There” is one of those you cannot put down. If you need to re-energize your wanderlust and get a glimpse of the cultures and people and history of places that you’re missing by staying home, even during this time of COVID, I urge you to check out “Way Out There: Adventures of a Wilderness Trekker.” ALDHA is blessed to have several good writers in our midst. Add J.R. Harris to this revered list.” – B. O’B., Editor in chief, The Long Distance Hiker, newsletter of the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Assn. (ALDHA)
"Interesting tales told with modesty, insight, humor and suspense. Colorful descriptions of the terrain and the folks he meets along the way. Heartwarming examples of the kindness of strangers. Inspiring and informative. Recommended." – P. B.
"Engaging, funny, insightful, imbued with endless optimism. I really appreciated J.R.’s respect for the different cultures that he encountered and his genuine interest and respect for indigenous people, their lifestyles and practices, and their history. Through of all of the dangers, triumphs, and near disasters, he maintained a sense of balance and humility about who he was and how he fit into the 'grand scheme'." -- R. S.
"If you have a sense of modern day adventure and wanderlust, this book will appeal to you. It's a very easy read by an author who probably always finds himself as a minority in a variety of circles that he occupies (whether it be in the corporate world in the hustle and bustle of New York, or any of the remote villages he finds himself in from Alaska to Tasmania to South America). He tends to build and maintain relationships everywhere he goes. He definitely values and appreciates our differences while not compromising his own identity. He holds a few friends close, he embraces his solitude. He has his own ideas of adventure but he's always willing to look at a new destination through a new set of eyes. These are his own stories from his own experiences put together from his journals and personal reflections. J. Robert Harris is a very likable fellow. I imagine I'd enjoy a beer or three with him." – E. H.
"There is a saying that no matter where you go, you always pack your self first. Mr. Harris shows us that the self you bring home from time in wilderness solitude is a deeper, more intuitive, richer self than the one that began the journey. I highly recommend this book for young adults through Boomers, hikers or armchair travelers."
– R. K.
"I was I was searching around in Amazon for similar books and yours popped up. As soon as I read the description I hit the "buy with one click" button, and am glad I did. I just bought another copy of your book for my dad for Christmas, and I am going to recommend it to two of my friends who I bike, fish and backpack with (they are old Coast Guard buddies). As for a favorite chapter or episode, that is really hard to pin down, as I found each of your adventures equally enthralling." -- K. O.
"Wow!! Just finished your book Way Out There! AWESOME! Such a beautiful book about your ADVENTURES. Amazed also at your writing skills...to describe your treks so vividly with no repetition, clichés...AND humor! Thank you so much for a great journey and wishing you many more!!" -- P. W.
"An inspirational story that lifts our minds above the day to day grind and cable news. An excellent anthology of J Robert Harris’s life of solo trekking adventures in distant, rugged, and remote parts of the world. Throughout his adventures he discovers and celebrates the people who live in these often primitive areas. He reveals much about himself in how he interacts and befriends these strangers, who often go out of their way to help him overcome the inevitable struggles and challenges that confront him on his quests. Harris is driven by his curiosity about the unknown, and he sets a refreshing example for us all to get out of our comfort zone and discover the beauty of our world. In so doing, we can discover much about ourselves. I have purchased several copies of the book for my Colorado Outward Bound School instructors to read to their students this summer while backpacking in the Colorado Rockies." -- R. O'R.
"Hello J.R., Greetings from San Francisco. Just wanted to let you know that I greatly enjoyed your book "Way Out There." I bought the book at the NPS Lands End bookstore - above the Sutro Baths ruins in San Francisco. The book was engaging and well-written - a welcomed diversion from my job working nights as a critical care physician. Congratulations on the book - again, I enjoyed it very much. Best Regards, T. N."
"Read this book! 'Way out there' is a terrific book - a must read! From the first chapter onwards, J.R. Harris draws you into the stories about his wilderness trips and makes you feel as if you are experiencing the exciting adventures alongside him. He effortlessly combines a great sense of humor with depth and insight about the areas he travels to. J.R.'s passion for taking expeditions to remote places is evident and contagious." – K. K.
"I bought the Kindle edition. Written in a conversational style, this is an easy book to read. It's rare to find a good story-teller who doesn't embellish his story. The pure honesty of his writing comes through clearly." -- S. B.
"As a young man Robert Harris sought adventure and discovery by searching for what was out there beyond the confines of his city home and the confines of his personality and comfort zone. This memoir of treks in Australia, Canada, Peru, Switzerland, and the USA demonstrates to the reader his mastery of the skills requisite for anyone wishing to experience such adventures." -- G. D.
“'Way Out There' is an impressively well written combination of memoir and travelogue. It presents the introspective and candid story of a restless soul that will have a very special appeal for armchair travelers and aspiring mountaineers everywhere." -- Midwest Book Review
“Way Out There” is Way Good. I’ve read a million books on hunting, fishing, and the outdoors in my time. Okay, scores and scores of such books. I’ve never read a better one than “Way Out There” by J.R. Harris. I attended his Adirondack Mountain Club talk at Mohawk Valley Community College on his long experience backpacking all over the world – it was very informative and entertaining – and I just finished “Way Out There,” which I enthusiastically recommend to anyone interested in the outdoors. Harris is an extraordinary man who has had and continues to have extraordinary adventures at age 76. I love the spirit of the book as much as I do the stories themselves. There is a great deal of wisdom here – on fortitude, preparedness, common sense, self-awareness, the benefits of curiosity, the dangers of hubris, the willingness to admit mistakes, the value of connecting with different cultures, the benefits of the kindness of strangers, and much else. There also is some sneaky, self-deprecating humor, which always is a good thing. Harris writes very well, and makes you feel as if you are right there alongside him, battling through crazy weather in the wilds of Tasmania, climbing through high passes in the Alps, marching through seldom-visited places at the literal ends of the earth, making friends with and learning about native peoples. There is no fishing or hunting in the book, but the adventures Harris describes are of value to any outdoors person. “Way Out There” is available at Harris’ web site - and from Barnes & Noble, Amazon and other major booksellers.” – J. P. in The Utica (NY) Observer-Dispatch
"J. Robert Harris has been backpacking through the world’s most tantalizing places for fifty years. His funny, tragic, uplifting and down-to-earth stories will delight nature lovers and travel fiends alike." -- New England Independent Booksellers Assn. (NEIBA)
"This book is for everyone. It’ll make you laugh. It will put you on the edge of your seat. There’s no crying in ‘Way Out There,’ but it will teach you lessons for your career and your life." -- D. M.
"Fabulous...engaging, exciting, thoughtful, insightful, enjoyable - a great gift for anyone, all ages - not necessary to be into backpacking and the great outdoors...a great storyteller....I'm rereading some of the stories and have to add how much I appreciate the detail J.R. provides, the historical/sociological perspective he offers with each story, the mention of so many other interesting treks he's taken, and especially the introspection and personal learning that comes from each of his experiences in the wild." – K. A.
"J.R. Harris proves himself to be, not just a guy with a lot of guts, but someone who can tell the tales of his adventures in a compelling and humorous way. J.R. shares insights about people, places and things that most of us will never get to experience in a way that makes you feel as though you have. I'm both jealous of and amazed at his adventures. After each tale of travel to remote places, I was anxious for the next. For anyone who has wanderlust or who just wants to read some great tales, this is a must." -- J. S.
"Having just finished your book this is just a brief note to express my appreciation for your abilities as trekker and scribe. I truly enjoyed the “walk” and feel deeply inspired by your experiences with nature and people. I hope you will feel inspired to continue walking, to write more and to never give up your walking stick. Yours is a life well lived." -- D. G.
"A warning: Read Way Out There and you may find yourself buying an old VW Beetle, driving to Alaska and discovering magic while camping in the wild. A teen-aged J. Robert Harris drove solo across Canada on his way to Alaska and as I read the opening chapter, his words delivered his unbridled sense of adventure. Now 75, Harris writes about his favorite backpacking journeys that many would not consider, even with expert guides. The Arctic National Park and Preserve, Baffin Island, Tasmania, the northern reaches of Canada, Switzerland and Australia are among his destinations. One chapter takes readers for a gripping canoe adventure. He packs impressive courage and finds a sense of peace miles from civilization, in the home territories of polar bears, grizzlies and wolves. He is often alone, but never lonely. Danger follows him, but it only succeeds in making his stories impossible to put aside. Read Way Out There, if you dare." -- R. S.
"Thoroughly enjoyable, fast-paced & fun with adventure to spare: J.R. Harris's "Way Out There" is a thoroughly enjoyable adventure memoir with a lively measure of humor and hubris. The author is relateable - his stories ring true - and you can imagine yourself in his boots. One of the best aspects of the book is that he's hiked little-known trails and areas of the world, so it broadens your knowledge of many regions. The background and history of each hike offer insights you won't find anyone else. Highly recommended." -- S. L.
"My 2018 Book Award Winner Of The Year: This was the best book I read in all of 2018! And I read a ton of books on my daily 2 hour train commute to and from the City. Way Out There: Adventures of a Wilderness is one was my all-time favorite books by far! Adventures galore, written in a very readable style, engrossing, engaging and leaving you on the edge of your seat. Get this book!" – H. H.
"Mr. J.R. Harris, I was recently on a two-week road trip from Detroit to spend a week in Utah and a week in Colorado to visit State and National Parks, as well as other destinations. While in Moab, I searched a local bookstore for a good campfire read and came across your book. I purchased it excited for its relevance to my own trip and to learn more about backpacking. It shocked me when your first chapter was of your very own road trip from NYC to an even more remote location. I couldn't believe the coincidence, and over the next two weeks, I slowly moved through your work, reveling in each tale. It felt like your book had chosen me rather than the other way around. So, I'd like to thank you. First of all for compiling your inspiring group of stories, sharing them with other outdoor fanatics, and for helping make my own trip an even more memorable one. I've never emailed an author, but I am truly a fan of your work. Hopefully you'll one day share even more wonderful stories and continue to inspire others. Thanks again and happy hiking." -- C. McN.
"A wonderful book! A quiet, introspective take on spectacular places. Explorers and adventurers will relate, but so will people like myself... people who live in the familiar, but with an interest in the exotic 'other'." -- V. H.
"Mr. Harris, I just finished Way Out There, and I was extremely disappointed to say the least - disappointed your book wasn't an additional 200 pages that is! Your life story is enthralling, amazing, and motivating." -- K. J.
"I loved this book! JR's conversational writing style is well suited to this tale of adventures all over the world, and his sense of humor shines through. The level of detail made me feel like I was really there - although thank goodness I wasn't because he's had some spectacularly harrowing adventures." -- A.L.