Approved Reading List - Everything You Need To Know

GORUCK TRIBE books are also on our Approved Reading List!

The PATHFINDER Approved Reading List is now available to all rosters in all programming. We encourage our rosters to incorporate these books into their training to get their minds right for training and Event preparation, as well as leadership skills and furthering their knowledge of historical world events.

Challenge Purpose

  • The PATHFINDER Approved Reading List was created to encourage all rosters to develop mental conditioning, continue internal motivation and to strengthen mental resilience along with physical endurance.

Challenge Parameters

Life: Rosters read 3 books. They may read any type or variety of book, regardless of topic, including, but not limited to: fiction, nonfiction, educational coursebooks or religious material. There is no need for Course Advisor approval, and the roster will log and keep track of their books in the logging system. This is an optional Challenge. Audiobooks are allowed.

Forward: Rosters read 1 book of choice AND 1 book from our Recommended Reading List. For book of choice, roster may select any book of their choosing, without need for Course Advisor approval. The roster will log their books in the PATHFINDER logging system as they would with any physical Challenge. This is an optional Challenge. Audiobooks are allowed.

Endure: Rosters read 2 books from our Recommended Reading List. The roster will log their books in the PATHFINDER logging system as they would with any physical Challenge. This is an optional Challenge. Audiobooks are allowed.

Advanced: Rosters will read 1 book from our Recommended Reading List. The roster will log their books in the PATHFINDER logging system as they would with any physical Challenge. For Advanced, reading is a requirement to complete the program and is not an optional Challenge. Audiobooks are allowed. The only books allowed in PATHFINDER Advanced are the books listed below.

Stirling & Compete: The reading list is not currently an approved Challenge for these programs.

Just so you know: PATHFINDER is an authorized affiliate of Amazon. If you make a purchase through this list, we receive a small commission from the sale at no additional cost to you.


-- We Were Soliders Once...And Young by Lt. Gen. Harold G Moore and Joseph Galloway

**Lyell's Pick for Class 028**

Each year, the Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps selects one book that he believes is both relevant and timeless for reading by all Marines. The Commandant's choice for 1993 was We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young.
In November 1965, some 450 men of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, under the command of Lt. Col. Hal Moore, were dropped by helicopter into a small...

-- Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Termopylae by Steven Pressfield

Fiction - A timeless epic of war. At Thermopylae, a rocky mountain pass in northern Greece, the feared and admired Spartan soldiers stood three hundred strong. Theirs was a suicide mission, to hold the pass against the invading millions of the mighty Persian army.

**Amy's Pick for Class 028**

The long-buried story of three extraordinary female journalists who permanently shattered the barriers to women covering war.

Sports - Motivational

-- The Brave Athlete: Calm the F--k Down and Rise to the Occasion by Simon Marshall PhD and more

The Brave Athlete solves the 13 most common mental conundrums athletes face in their everyday training and in races.

You don’t have one brain—you have three; your ancient Chimp brain that keeps you alive, your modern Professor brain that navigates the civilized world, and your Computer brain that accesses your...



-- The Art of Impossible: A Peak Performance Primer by Steven Kotler

Bestselling author and peak performance expert Steven Kotler decodes the secrets of those elite performers—athletes, artists, scientists, CEOs and more—who have changed our definition of the possible, teaching us how we too can stretch far beyond our capabilities, making impossible dreams much more attainable for all of us.

  • January: Tribe by Sebastian Junger

Endure Smarter Not Harder: Team SPEARHEAD: PATHFINDER Special Edition (Motivation For Current And Aspiring Endurance Challenge Athletes) (Volume 1)
by Grant Alexander Shymske (Author), James Vreeland (Foreword)

The Endurance Challenge Life: Team SPEARHEAD Special Edition (Volume 2)
by Grant Alexander Shymske (Author), Mark Webb (Foreword), Matt Francev (Foreword)

-- Unbeatable Mind: Forge Resiliency and Mental Toughness to Succeed at an Elite Level, Volume 3 by Mark Divine

Strengthen your thinking, mental-state, and self-development with tools and techniques not easily found anywhere else. Achieve your maximum potential in any career, business or just in life through Mark’s integrated plan of warrior development.

-- The Way of the Seal: Think Like an Elite Warrior to Lead and Succeed by Mark Divine

Mark Divine has distilled the fundamentals of success into eight powerful principles that will transform you into the leader you always knew you could be. Learn to think like a SEAL and take charge of your destiny at work, at home, and at life.

-- Spartan Up! by Joe De Sena

Filled with unforgettable stories of Spartan racers as well as hard-won truths learned along the course, Spartan Up! will help you reach your full potential in whatever you set out to do.

-- The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing by Phil Maffetone

Dr. Philip Maffetone’s approach to endurance offers a truly “individualized” outlook and unique system that emphasizes building a strong aerobic base for increased fat burning, weight loss, sustained energy, and a healthy immune system. Good nutrition and stress reduction are also key to this commonsense, big-picture approach.

-- Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

In this instant New York Times bestseller, Angela Duckworth shows anyone striving to succeed that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent, but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls “grit.”

-- Killer Athletes: America's Special Operations Warriors Share Lessons & Advice to Help Young Athletes Become Champions by Cole Tucker

Navy SEALs, Army Rangers, Air Force Pararescuemen and members of other Special Operations Forces are renowned for their mental and physical toughness. These qualities are also essential for high achievement in the world of competitive sports.

-- Living the Martial Way: A Manual for the Way a Modern Warrior Should Think by Forrest Morgan

A step-by-step approach to applying the Japanese warrior's mind set to martial training and daily life.

-- "The Roll Model" by Jill Miller 
Pain is an epidemic. It prevents you from performing at your best because it robs you of concentration, power, and peace of mind. But most pain is preventable and treatable, and healing is within your grasp. Hundreds of thousands of people around the globe have taken life “by the balls” and circumvented a dismal future of painkillers, surgeries, and hopelessness by using Jill Miller’s groundbreaking Roll Model Method.


-- "Roar" by Stacy Sims

*Amy's Top Book of 027

Women are not small men. Stop eating and training like one.

ROAR is a comprehensive, physiology-based nutrition and training guide specifically designed for active women. Exercise physiologist and nutrition scientist Stacy T. Sims, PhD, shows you how to be your own biohacker to achieve optimum athletic performance.

-- Primal Endurance by Mark Sisson

Primal Endurance shakes up the status quo and challenges the overly stressful, ineffective conventional approach to endurance training.

-- Becoming a Supple Leopard 2nd Edition: The Ultimate Guide to Resolving Pain, Preventing Injury, and Optimizing Athletic Performance by Kelly Starrett and Glen Cordoza

Improve your athletic performance, extend your athletic career, treat stiffness and achy joints, and prevent and rehabilitate injuries—all without having to seek out a coach, doctor, chiropractor, physical therapist, or masseur.

-- Kokoro Yoga: Maximize Your Human Potential and Develop the Spirit by Mark Divine

Kokoro Yoga, by New York Times bestselling author and former U.S. Navy SEAL Mark Divine, is an integrated physical, mental, and spiritual training, designed initially for the nation's elite special-ops soldiers and now taught to anyone seeking to develop the heart and mind of a warrior.

-- The Art of Resilience by Ross Edgley

Bestselling author and award-winning adventurer Ross Edgley has been studying the art of resilience for years, applying all he has learned to become the first person in history to swim around Great Britain, breaking multiple world records. Now Ross focuses on mental strength, stoicism and the training needed to create an unbreakable body.

-- Work In: The Athlete's Plan for Real Recovery and Winning Results by Erin Taylor

Work In shares new mental and physical recovery techniques for athletes who give it all in every workout. Yoga and recovery coach Erin Taylor gives athletes practical tools and an integrated plan for real recovery from training―and everyday life.

-- HIT RESET: Revolutionary Yoga for Athletes by Erin Taylor

HIT RESET starts by defining 10 problems that hold athletes back and the yoga solutions that can fix them. Each chapter shows you how your body should work, how to self-diagnose flaws in your movement and functional strength, and how to apply just a few specific yoga poses so you can “hit reset” and get back to athletic form.

-- Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Nearly two thousand years after it was written, Meditations remains profoundly relevant for anyone seeking to lead a meaningful life.

-- The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday

The book draws its inspiration from stoicism, the ancient Greek philosophy of enduring pain or adversity with perseverance and resilience. Stoics focus on the things they can control, let go of everything else, and turn every new obstacle into an opportunity to get better, stronger, tougher.

 "The Greatest Beer Run Ever: A Memoir of Friendship, Loyalty, and War" by John "Chick" Donohue

*Lyell's Top Book of 027

Soon to be a major motion picture written and directed by Peter Farrelly, who won two Academy Awards for Green Book—a wildly entertaining, feel-good memoir of an Irish-American New Yorker and former U.S. marine who embarked on a courageous, hare-brained scheme to deliver beer to his pals serving Vietnam in the late 1960s.


When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Cornelia Fort was already in the air. At twenty-two, Fort had escaped Nashville’s debutante scene for a fresh start as a flight instructor in Hawaii....Still, when the U.S. Army Air Forces put out a call for women pilots to aid the war effort, Fort was one of the first to respond. She became one of just over 1,100 women from across the nation to make it through the Army’s rigorous selection process and earn her silver wings.


-- "When I Turned Nineteen: A Vietnam War Memoir" by Glyn Haynie

"It’s the year 1969. I was serving in the U.S. Army with my brothers of First Platoon Company A 3/1 11th Bde Americal (23rd Infantry) Division. ... We came together and formed a brotherhood that will last through time. I share my experiences about weeks of boredom and minutes to hours of terror and surviving the heat, carrying a 60-pound rucksack, monsoons, a forest fire, a typhoon, building a firebase, fear, death and fighting the enemy while mentally, physically, and morally exhausted."

-- The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

A classic work of American literature that has not stopped changing minds and lives since it burst onto the literary scene, The Things They Carried is a ground-breaking meditation on war, memory, imagination, and the redemptive power of storytelling. 

-- Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger

We have a strong instinct to belong to small groups defined by clear purpose and understanding--"tribes." This tribal connection has been largely lost in modern society, but regaining it may be the key to our psychological survival.

-- Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War by Mark Bowden

On October 3, 1993, about a hundred elite U.S. soldiers were dropped by helicopter into the teeming market in the heart of Mogadishu, Somalia. Their mission was to abduct two top lieutenants of a Somali warlord and return to base. It was supposed to take an hour.

-- Hammerhead Six: How Green Berets Waged an Unconventional War Against the Taliban by Ronald Fry

Two years before the action in Lone Survivor, a team of Green Berets conducted a very different successful mission in Afghanistan's notorious Pech Valley. Led by Captain Ronald Fry, Hammerhead Six applied the principles of unconventional warfare to "win hearts and minds" and fight against the terrorist insurgency.

-- Ashley's War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

In 2010, the Army created Cultural Support Teams, a secret pilot program to insert women alongside Special Operations soldiers battling in Afghanistan. The Army reasoned that women could play a unique role on Special Ops teams: accompanying their male colleagues on raids and, while those soldiers were searching for insurgents, questioning the mothers, sisters, daughters and wives living at the compound.

-- Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II by Liza Mundy

Recruited by the U.S. Army and Navy from small towns and elite colleges, more than ten thousand women served as codebreakers during World War II. While their brothers and boyfriends took up arms, these women moved to Washington and learned the meticulous work of code-breaking. Their efforts shortened the war, saved countless lives, and gave them access to careers previously denied to them. A strict vow of secrecy nearly erased their efforts from history.

-- Band of Sisters: American Women at War in Iraq by Kirsten Holmstedt

In Iraq, the front lines are everywhere - and everywhere in Iraq, no matter what their job descriptions say, women in the U.S. military are fighting--more than 155,000 of them. A critical and commercial success in hardcover, Band of Sisters presents a dozen groundbreaking and often heart-wrenching stories of American women in combat in Iraq.

-- Every Man a Hero: A Memoir of D-Day, the First Wave at Omaha Beach and a World at War by Ray Lambert

Seventy-five years ago, he hit Omaha Beach with the first wave. Now Ray Lambert, ninety-eight years old, delivers one of the most remarkable memoirs of our time, a tour-de-force of remembrance evoking his role as a decorated World War II medic who risked his life to save the heroes of D-Day.

-- On Desperate Ground: The Epic Story of Chosin Reservoir -- the Greatest Battle of the Korean War by Hampton Sides

From the New York Times bestselling author of Ghost Soldiers and In the Kingdom of Ice, a chronicle of the extraordinary feats of heroism by Marines called on to do the impossible during the greatest battle of the Korean War

-- The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman

In this landmark, Pulitzer Prize–winning account, renowned historian Barbara W. Tuchman re-creates the first month of World War I: thirty days in the summer of 1914 that determined the course of the conflict, the century, and ultimately our present world.

-- The Armed Forces Officer Edition of 1950

"The Armed Forces Officer" is much more than a how-to guide for military officers. It is a series of candid, timeless essays on the nature of the people who occupy the ranks of the military services.

-- Ranger Handbook: Not For The Weak or Fainthearted by US Army (April 2017 Ed)

The US Army Rangers are the world's premier light infantry fighting force. This book contains all of the materials of the official Ranger handbook carried by all Ranger school students.

-- "One Life" by Megan Rapinoe
Megan Rapinoe, Olympic gold medalist and two-time Women's World Cup champion, reveals for the first time her life both on and off the field. Guided by her personal journey into social justice, brimming with humor, humanity, and joy, she urges all of us to ask ourselves, What will you do with your one life?

-- Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

An epic adventure that began with one simple question: Why does my foot hurt?
Isolated by Mexico's deadly Copper Canyons, the blissful Tarahumara Indians have honed the ability to run hundreds of miles without rest or injury. In a riveting narrative, award-winning journalist and often-injured runner Christopher McDougall sets out to discover their secrets.

-- Choosing Courage: Inspiring True Stories of What It Means to Be a Hero by Peter Collier

How does an ordinary person become a hero? It happens in a split second, a moment of focus and clarity, when a choice is made. Here are the gripping accounts of Medal of Honor recipients who demonstrated guts and selflessness on the battlefield and confronted life-threatening danger to make a difference.

-- You Are A Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero

By the end of You Are a Badass, you'll understand why you are how you are, how to love what you can't change, how to change what you don't love, and how to use The Force to kick some serious ass.

-- Negative Self-Talk and How to Change it by Shad Helmstetter

Negative Self-Talk and How to Change It is an immediately helpful, life-changing handbook of how to deal with negative self-talk – for yourself, or anyone in your life. In this ’60-Minute’ Book™ written for today’s reader, Dr. Helmstetter gives you all of the important information you need to change negative self-talk forever, in a short, easy-to-read, and condensed format.

-- Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins

For David Goggins, childhood was a nightmare - poverty, prejudice, and physical abuse colored his days and haunted his nights. But through self-discipline, mental toughness, and hard work, Goggins transformed himself from a depressed, overweight young man with no future into a U.S. Armed Forces icon and one of the world's top endurance athletes. 

-- Eat & Run by Scott Jurek

Chock-full of incredible, on-the-brink stories of endurance and competition, fascinating science, and accessible practical advice - including his own favorite plant-based recipes - Eat and Run will motivate everyone to "go the distance", whether that means getting out for that first run, expanding your food horizons, or simply exploring the limits of your own potential.

-- The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck by Mark Manson

In this generation-defining self-help guide, a superstar blogger cuts through the crap to show us how to stop trying to be "positive" all the time so that we can truly become better, happier people.

-- Wolfpack: How to Come Together, Unleash our Power and Change the Game by Abby Wombach

Based on her inspiring, viral 2018 commencement speech to Barnard College’s graduates in New York City, New York Times bestselling author, two-time Olympic gold medalist and FIFA World Cup champion Abby Wambach delivers her empowering rally cry for women to unleash their individual power, unite with their pack, and emerge victorious together.

-- Discipline Equals Freedom by Jocko Willink

Discipline Equals Freedom covers it all, including strategies and tactics for conquering weakness, procrastination, and fear, and specific physical training presented in workouts for beginner, intermediate, and advanced athletes, and even the best sleep habits and food intake recommended to optimize performance.

-- Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear

No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for improving--every day. James Clear, one of the world's leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.

-- The Dichotomy of Leadership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

Mastering the Dichotomy of Leadership requires understanding when to lead and when to follow; when to aggressively maneuver and when to pause and let things develop; when to detach and let the team run and when to dive into the details and micromanage.

-- Natural Born Heroes by Christopher McDougall

Christopher McDougall’s journey begins with a story of remarkable athletic prowess: On the treacherous mountains of Crete, a motley band of World War II Resistance fighters—an artist, a shepherd, and a poet—abducted a German commander from the heart of the Axis occupation.

-- Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink

An updated edition of the blockbuster bestselling leadership book that took America and the world by storm, two U.S. Navy SEAL officers who led the most highly decorated special operations unit of the Iraq War demonstrate how to apply powerful leadership principles from the battlefield to business and life.

-- Raising Men: Lessons Navy SEALs Learned from Their Training and Taught to Their Sons by Eric Davis and Dina Santorelli

As a SEAL, Eric learned to innovate and push boundaries, allowing him to function at levels beyond what was expected, comfortable, ordinary, and even imaginable, and he knew that as a father he needed to do the same with his son. Meeting extreme with extreme was the only answer.


Challenge Restrictions

  • Always Ruck safely. Communicate your route and estimated times to another individual/party who can alert
  • YOU MUST COMPLY WITH ALL APPLICABLE LAWS AND RESTRICTIONS. DO NOT TRESPASS. If you are in doubt contact facility management for a clear understanding of access to and usage of any facility’s property. PATHFINDER assumes no liability whatsoever for any actions taken by a PATHFINDER roster.

PATHFINDER assumes no responsibility or liability for any injuries, damages or death. A roster assumes all risk associated with their participation in any and all PATHFINDER programming.



        • I would strongly recommend “The comfort crisis” Michael Easter. Fantastic book and Michael Easter has definitely got his s..t together. Great read.

          Shaun McGrath
        • There are some awesome books on this list! I’m actually kinda surprised that no Simon Sinek or Brené Brown books made the list though. Also a two good books I’ve read that I’d suggest for different categories are: (Motivation) I’ll Push You: A Journey of 500 Miles, Two Best Friends, and One Wheelchair by Patrick Gray & Justin Skeesuck. (Leadership) Lead Yourself First: Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude by by Michael S. Erwin & Raymond M. Kethledge.

          Matt Kiddoo
        • WOW! These options are endless. I’ve already read a handful of these books, and they’re incredible. I’m adding five to my TBR list now.

          Happy Reading to all!


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