-- Last Updated: Jul-04-12 7:29 AM EST --
The "Lonely Land" by Sigurd Olson is a classic... an account of a canoe trip following a fur trade route across Saskatchewan to Manitoba. Quite well written, IMHO.
If stories of paddling in really exotic locations interest you, there are two I've read on the Tsangpo river and can recommend with some qualifications. (The Tsangpo runs east from Tibet near Mt. Everest through a canyon several times deeper than the Grand Canyon and much narrower. Think paddling Shangri La. It is the WAY upper end of the Brahmaputra.)
One is "Courting the Diamond Sow" by Wickliffe Walker, an account of the first attempt at a first decent of that river.
The other is "Hell or High Water" by Peter Heller.
I don't personally think these two are written as well as "Lonely Land" but, gad, what a river! And what river trips! The stories make up for the writing. Can you imagine a portage racing foul weather in the Himalaya?
While not really a paddling story, one that is a very good read and begins and ends with a smashed up kayak in the Queen Charlotte islands is the "Golden Spruce" by John Vaillant. Brilliantly written by a man who seems to be very very well versed on the all matters Pacific northwest.
"River" by Colin Fletcher (the Complete Walker guy) is a good one also. Solo raft trip of the Green/Colorado R. (He maintains the Green is really the upper Colorado since its the longer tributary) to the sea.
Second "On Celtic Tides", and "Wake of Joman" also.