The first adventure novel that you ever read is hard to forget: after all, we all remember the first time our imaginations were lit by whispers of buried treasure, lost worlds, and faraway jungles. As Jane Eyre says: “It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquility: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it.”
Luckily, we’ve made the act of finding action easy for you! We have 100 of the best adventure books for you in this post, ranging from rollicking journeys over land to tales of high-stakes survival on the sea. Who knows where your next book will take you? Let’s find out.
Classic Books of Adventure
Or: the books that started it all. From Don Quixote to Treasure Island, they invented many of the tropes that we still see in adventure novels today.
1. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
Regarded as one of the greatest works in literature, Don Quixote recounts the adventures of Alonso Quixano: a middle-aged man so obsessed with chivalric books that he decides to imitate them and become a knight-errant. So begins his journey to find a faithful squire, save damsels in distress, and fight windmills.
2. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
In this classic by Dumas, a young man named d’Artagnan joins the Musketeers of the Guard. In doing so, he befriends Athos, Porthos, and Aramis — the King’s most celebrated musketeers — and embarks on a journey of his own.
3. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Written by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson, this story of “buccaneers and buried gold” launched a million tropes of treasure maps, sea chests, Black Spots, and deserted islands.
4. King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard and A. C. Michael
The first English adventure novel set in Africa, this 1885 book is considered to be the origin of the Lost World literary genre. It boasts six adaptations, including a 1937 British film and a 2004 American television miniseries.
5. Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
Journey to the Center of the Earth is exactly that: a trip to the inside of the world, which is where German professor Otto Lidenbrock theorizes that volcanic tubes will lead. Another one of Jules Verne’s magnum opuses — and one of the most famous examples of subterranean fiction.
6. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Part adventure story and part revenge thriller, The Count of Monte Cristo is the tale of Edmond Dantès, a man who is falsely imprisoned without trial in an island fortress off France. That is, until one day he escapes and seeks out the men who conspired against him. You’ll find yourself coming for the adventure, but staying for the vindication.
7. Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
First published in 1819, Ivanhoe is a tale of heroism set in 12th-century England after the failure of the Third Crusade. Looking for jousting tournaments, romance, kidnappings, and witch trials? Then you’ve come to the right book.
Adventures in the Jungle
There’s more to the jungle than just The Jungle Book. From boa constrictors to alligators, there’s danger lurking behind every tree in these classics.
8. Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Immortalized by the Disney adaptation, Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs launched the legend of an orphaned boy who is adopted by apes in the African jungle. Named Tarzan, the boy eventually has to prove himself on two fronts: the animal kingdom and the even more menacing world of humans.
9. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
One of the most famous and acclaimed English novels in history happens to be a grim adventure story. This 1899 novella by Joseph Conrad tells the doomed story of Charles Marlow, who wishes to leave behind the civilized world and sail up the Congo in Africa. But he does not encounter what he anticipated in his journey into the metaphorical — and very literal — heart of darkness in the middle of the jungle.
10. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
Brian Robeson is only 13 years old when his bush plane crashes in the forest. Now he must survive — with nothing but a hatchet. This book won the 1987 Newberry Award and has since gone on to spawn four sequels.
11. Congo by Michael Crichton
Another one of Michael Crichton’s famous adventure-and-science-fiction books, Congo relates the gripping story of an expedition’s desire to find the Lost City of Zinj in Africa — despite the horrors of the jungle and previous deaths.
12. The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
Rudyard Kipling published this book in 1894 as a collection of stories about a “man-cub” Mowgli who grows up with wolves in the forest. Here’s your chance to meet the original conceptions of these beloved characters yourself: from Baloo the bear to Bagheera the black panther and the villainous tiger Shere Khan.
13. The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
An expedition to an Amazon basin in South America to find prehistoric dinosaurs goes awry in this 1912 novel by Sir Arthur Doyle. Sherlock Holmes is nowhere to be found, but this book does introduce the notorious character of Professor Challenger, the founder of the mission.
Adventures of the Sea
The world is 71% sea, which might explain why so many adventure novels take place on these thrashing, unknown waters. From Moby-Dick to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, they dive under the surface to find the heart of adventure.
14. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
Hop on board Captain Nemo’s Nautilus to explore the Red Sea, Atlantis, Vigo Bay, and more — everything taking place in (as of 1870) a wild new frontier: the sea.
15. The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monsarrat
Before The Perfect Storm was The Cruel Sea. This 1951 novel, which takes place during World War II, is considered one of the foremost portrayals of the Royal Navy’s battle against both the sea and the Germans.
16. Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling
Fifteen-year-old Harvey Cheyne Jr. is the privileged, arrogant son of a powerful businessman. That is, until he almost drowns in the Atlantic Sea. Luckily, he’s saved from certain death by Portuguese fishermen. Thus begins his life onboard a ship that cares not a whit for his wealth — and his eventual journey back to America.
17. The Long Ships by Frans G. Bengtsson
Written by Swedish writer Frans G. Bengtsson, The Long Ships today remains one of the most widely-read books in Sweden. In it, a kidnapped boy grows up as the son of a Swedish chieftain before setting out on a long adventure to find promised treasure.
18. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
Call me Ishmael, begins this epic story. Acclaimed as one of the greatest books of the sea that’s ever been written, Moby-Dick relates the timeless story of a voyage to hunt and kill the great white whale that rules the ocean and haunts cruel captain Ahab’s mind.
19. Jaws by Peter Benchley
The 1974 book that inspired Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster movie — which then made beach attendance drop dramatically in 1975. Jaws is the story of three men’s quest to kill a human-eating great white shark. It’s a high-stakes adventure on the sea, which holds more dangers than anyone could have ever imagined.
20. The Odyssey by Homer
You won’t get any story closer to a purer definition of an adventure than The Odyssey. Homer tells the famous story of Odysseus in this Greek epic poem: from the moment that Troy falls to the journey that he must take to get home over the course of ten years.
21. The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe
Famed for his short stories, Edgar Allan Poe only ever wrote one actual novel: The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. But what a thrilling adventure it is, as we follow the life of a young stowaway on a whaling ship who encounters shipwreck, cannibalism, and the South Pole along the way.
22. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Piscine Patel, nicknamed Pi, relates the story of how he lived on a small lifeboat with a spotted hyena, a zebra, an orangutan, and a tiger for 227 days. But is Pi telling the whole truth? This revelatory book has sold more than ten million copies worldwide and has been adapted into a Hollywood blockbuster.
23. Eric Brighteyes by Henry Rider Haggard
There is one thing that we don’t see enough in adventure fiction, and that’s Vikings. Eric Brighteyes fixes this for us. In this epic Viking saga, a young Eric Thorgrimursson (nicknamed “Brighteyes”) faces drama, love, and rousing adventure as he grows up in 10th century Iceland.
Adventures in the Desert
Remote, isolated, and desolated: what better setting for an adventure than a desert? Meet scorpions, nomadic tribes, and golden sands in the below books that feature desert adventures.
24. Dune by Frank Herbert
The first installment of the Dune series, Dune is an interstellar adventure that revolves around several different noble houses battling to control the desert island Arrakis, upon which the coveted spice mélange resides.
25. Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
An autobiographical work, Desert Solitaire is American writer Edward Abbey’s account of his experiences in the southwestern United States — a region that remains largely swathed in desert.
26. The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers
An adventure novel that functions in the guise of spy fiction, The Riddle of the Sands is a fantastic example of how a regular yachting trip might quickly become a madcap investigation of the German’s plan to invade Britain. Plus, it’s perhaps one of the first modern thrillers ever written.
Adventures in Space and the Sky
It’s the X-factor in our knowledge of the world that has yet to be mapped: space and all that it implies. These books breach that border, and boldly go where no man has gone before.
27. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
The British phenomenon by Douglas Adams that is still widely quoted everywhere today. When Earth is destroyed, only one man survives: Arthur Dent. He is picked up by Ford Prefect, an alien writer who’s working on an electronic book called The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. What follows is an adventure through the grandest landscape of all: the galaxy.
28. Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
If you had a spare 80 days, what would you do with it? Phileas Fogg and his valet Passepartout decided to use the time to circumnavigate the world. The £20,000 wager helps, of course — but so does the adventure that lies ahead of them. Another shining adventure story that Jules Verne (him again!) published.
29. The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe
The Right Stuff directly confronts the unknown, as a group of American pilots engage in the space race against Russia. Inspired by the launch of Apollo 17, Tom Wolfe wrote this book to explore the courage that propels an astronaut to take to the air.
30. Children of the Comet by Donald Moffitt
In the far future, a small community resides in space and harvests frozen air to make a living. But what happens when hunters from neighboring comets — and humans on starships — appear on the scene? This is a cosmic adventure in a very literal sense, as our young hero, Torris, tries to survive on a comet made entirely of ice.
31. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
Becky Chambers fundraised this adventure via a successful Kickstarter campaign. Re-published by Hodder & Stroughton, it tells the tale of a human named Rosemary Harper who joins the crew of the Wayfarer as a file clerk. Accidents and adventures ensue!
32. The Martian by Andy Weir
In the year 2035, a surprise dust storm traps botanist Mark Watney alone on the planet of Mars. Discover how Mark survives alone on this unexplored frontier in this book that took the literary world by a storm when it was self-published in 2011.
Adventures Featuring Animals
What’s better than a regular old tale of adventure, you might ask? Well, an adventure with animals. These books take readers on a journey into another world: where nature reigns supreme and a blade of grass can be the height of the Empire State Building.
33. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
Set in Canada during the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush, this story recounts the adventures of a dog named Buck, who must survive other dogs, nature, and man’s cruelty, to answer the call of the wild.
34. White Fang by Jack London
Considered to be a thematic mirror of The Call of the Wild, Jack London’s White Fang is about a titular wolfdog who is dragged from the wild into domestication — and all that that entails along the way.
35. Watership Down by Richard Adams
Rabbits? What on earth could be exciting or adventurous about rabbits? As it turns out, many things. When Hazel, Fiver, and company escape their warren and struggle their way to Watership Down in this classic book of valor, you’ll find yourself rooting hard for this brave, resourceful group of hoppy adventurers.
36. Raptor Red by Robert T. Bakker
Unlike any other book out there, Raptor Red is told entirely from the third-person point of view of Raptor Red, a female Utahraptor. Robert T. Bakker, the author, expertly draws upon heartfelt research about the Cretaceous Period to bring a prehistoric Earth to life as Raptor Red struggles to survive in a dinosaur-eat-dinosaur world.
Adventures of Identity
By day, you might be another nameless clerk at a nameless company. But when you put on the mask, the Earth opens up to you — along with a whole world of adventures.
37. Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
The US book cover of Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore glows in the dark. Not already enough adventure for you? Then you can dive into the story to follow Clay Jannon’s sojourn as a worker for Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore — which is not, as you might expect, all that it may seem.
38. The Mark of Zorro by Johnston McCulley
Originally published as The Curse of Capistrano, this is the first book to feature Señor Zorro: a mysterious, masked vigilante who defends the people of 19th-century California against villains like Captain Ramon and Sergeant Gonzales.
39. Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini
A romantic adventure against the backdrop of the French Revolution. Scaramouche is named after its hero, a lawyer who becomes a revolutionary and an actor playing “Scaramouche,” or a stock clown character in comic theatre.
Shipwrecked Island Adventures
You might think that you’re lucky to have survived a plane crash or shipwreck… until you realize that you’ve got a whole other problem on your hands: you now have to survive on an inaccessible island, with no rescue in sight.
40. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
A group of stranded schoolboys. One island. Limited resources. The adventure of a lifetime. What could go wrong? As it turns out, many things, as William Golding’s classic novel brilliantly and darkly illustrates.
41. Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss
Written by Swiss pastor Johann David Wyss, this book about a family shipwrecked in the East Indies ignited Europe’s imagination in 1812. Read it if you like your adventure stories with a dose of family values and moral lessons.
42. The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne
Another adventure story by Jules Vernes, The Mysterious Island is actually a crossover sequel to Verne’s famous Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and In Search of the Castaways. Five prisoners of war escape by balloon but crash onto an unknown island off the coast of New Zealand. There they try to survive, not knowing that they may soon get a visitor: for they are residing on (spoiler alert) Captain Nemo’s home port for the Nautilus.
43. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
The full title of this acclaimed 1886 book by Robert Louis Stevenson is (deep breath): Kidnapped: Being Memoirs of the Adventures of David Balfour in the Year 1751: How he was Kidnapped and Cast away; his Sufferings in a Desert Isle; his Journey in the Wild Highlands; his acquaintance with Alan Breck Stewart and other notorious Highland Jacobites; with all that he Suffered at the hands of his Uncle, Ebenezer Balfour of Shaws, falsely so-called: Written by Himself and now set forth by Robert Louis Stevenson. That tells you nearly everything you need to know about this book — except that every page of it is a great adventure.
44. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
The full title of this book is (another deep breath): The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, Of York, Mariner: Who lived Eight and Twenty Years, all alone in an un-inhabited Island on the Coast of America, near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, wherein all the Men perished but himself. With An Account how he was at last as strangely deliver'd by Pyrates. Again, we think that this tells you just about all that you have to know about the novel before you start reading it. But, as a sidenote, it’s good to mention that this might perhaps be the first English work of realistic fiction ever written.
Adventure Taken by Foot
When human beings didn’t have planes, trains, or automobiles to travel, they still had their feet. These novels feature adventures that were all taken by putting one foot in front of the other.
45. The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
The second installment in James Fenimore Cooper’s The Leatherstocking Tales and perhaps the most famous, The Last of the Mohicans recounts the journey of Alice and Cora Munro to Fort William Henry. Mark Twain once wrote a scathing review of Cooper’s dubious writing abilities, but the spirit of adventure in this book remains true.
46. True Grit by Charles Portis
You might have watched the Academy Award-winning movie already — but, as always, the book is better! 14-year old Mattie Ross’s quest to avenge her father’s death takes her from one end of Arkansas to the other.
47. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
If you like your adventures grim, The Road might be the book for you. In this 2006 novel by Cormac McCarthy, an unnamed father and his son walk through a bleak and desolate post-apocalyptic landscape. What will happen to them along the way is anyone’s guess.
48. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn might be a cutting satire of society and racism, but at its heart, it is just that: a young boy’s adventure along the Mississippi River. Frequently called one of the Great American Novels, it’s one that you don’t want to miss.
49. The Man Who Would Be King by Rudyard Kipling
The tin on this 1888 story written by Rudyard Kipling says it all. Two British explorers venture out in India, not knowing that one day they might end up being kings in Afghanistan.
Adventures Set in Foreign Countries
If you’re dreaming of escaping to another country, look no further than these adventure books, which can transport you anywhere from Transylvania to India.
50. A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
Adela Quested and Mrs. Moore travel to India in the 1920s, where Adela is to be engaged to Ronny Moore in Chandrapore. Set against the backdrop of the Indian independence movement, this is a formative text that deals not only with adventure but also with postcolonial discourse.
51. Kim by Rudyard Kipling
Kimball O’Hara, Kim for short, is an orphaned white boy scraping by in the streets of Lahore, India. But his life changes the day that he befriends a Tibetan Lama — and he embarks on an adventure of espionage and enlightenment in the Himalayas.
52. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
One of Australia’s most wanted men escapes Victoria’s Pentridge Prison and flees to India — where a dramatic adventure awaits him. Featuring Bollywood, the Mumbai underworld, and trips to Afghanistan, this book is so realistically well-drawn that many questioned whether or not it was an autobiography when it was first published.
53. Dracula by Bram Stoker
If you’re bored of the traditional historical adventures, we have an answer for you: vampires. More specifically, Dracula. Written by Bram Stoker, this novel the archetypical vampire fantasy in which the forces of good must battle against Dracula and the undead. Go here if you like creepy, electrifying adventures in Transylvania.
Sometimes the best adventures are the ones that originate from our heads — and these fantasy adventure novels certainly bring us worlds that we couldn’t have begun to imagine for ourselves.
54. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
One day while grading essays, JRR Tolkien wrote, “In a hole in the ground lived a hobbit,” on the back of a student’s paper. That single sentence launched this beloved children’s story about one unwilling hobbit who is dragged there (and back again) onto an adventure to the Misty Mountains.
55. The Phoenix on the Sword by Robert E. Howard
One of the first stories that launched the legend of Conan the Cimmerian. Conceived by American writer Robert E. Howard, this sword and sorcery tale follows the adventures of its hero in the pseudo-historical Hyborian Age.
56. Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
Regarded by many as one of the most influential series in fantasy, Earthsea is also an adventure that takes readers across the mountains and plains of — where else? — Earthsea. A Wizard of Earthsea is the first book published in the series, introducing us to Ged, a young boy who will become Archmage.
57. Alanna: the First Adventure by Tamora Pierce
A classic adventure for all young adults. When Alanna of Trebond switches places with her twin to train as a page at the castle of King Roald, she gets more than she bargained for. So begins her epic journey to become a legend in her land.
58. Stardust by Neil Gaiman
One of Neil Gaiman’s earlier works, it’s nonetheless one of the most charming coming-of-age adventures that you’ll find. Young Tristan Thorn grows up in the village of Wall, not once stepping foot into the magical land of Faerie that lies just beyond the border. That is, until a star falls in the distance and he tells his sweetheart that he will do anything to fetch it for her…
59. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
Humorist Jonathan Swift chronicles the travels of Lemuel Gulliver in this satirical masterpiece of 1726. Read it if you like a healthy dash of satire with your adventure.
Camelot was the birthplace for many of the most famous adventures, from Gawain and the Green Knight to the eternal hunt for the Holy Grail. Here are some of the most classic novels that render King Arthur’s adventures faithfully.
60. Le Morte d’Arthur by Thomas Malory
Is there an adventure that’s more iconic than that of King Arthur and his Round Table? Sir Thomas Malory’s rendition of Camelot is perhaps the best compilation of this beloved tale, from the birth of Arthur to his ultimate death in Avalon.
61. The Once and Future King by T.H. White
Based upon Le Morte d’Arthur, T.H. White’s The Once and Future King may be a more gentle reinterpretation of Arthur’s journey to become king — but it’s no less iconic or rich with adventure, danger, and intrigue.
Adventures in a Series
If one standalone book isn’t enough to sustain your thirst for adventure, check out these acclaimed adventure series.
62. Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian
A cracking nautical adventure set during the Napoleonic Wars, English author Patrick O’Brian’s epic Master and Commander series is grounded by the friendship between Jack Aubrey, the Master and Commander of his ship, and Stephen Maturin, his naval surgeon.
63. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past two decades, you’ve probably heard of this story. In 1989, billionaire John Hammond contacts paleontologist Alan Grant and paleobotanist Ellie Sattler, inviting them to go on an adventure into the past — and the darkest parts of human ambition.
64. Sharpe’s Tiger by Bernard Cornwell
The Richard Sharpe series by Bernard Cornwell is famous for its exhilarating depictions of the British Army during the Napoleonic Wars — and Sharpe’s Tiger is no exception. As the chronological first installment, it introduces readers to the “brilliant but wayward” hero and features a thrilling jaunt through India during the Siege of Seringapatam in 1799 to boot.
Nowhere is the phrase, “The truth is stranger than fiction,” more accurate than in the context of adventure non-fiction. These authors serve up true stories of some of the most daring, hazardous, and tragic journeys that humankind has ever undertaken.
65. Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
Bestselling author Jon Krakauer recounts his own experience climbing Everest. And it is a traumatizing story: Krakauer was a part of the doomed 1996 Mount Everest expedition, in which eight climbers were lost and many stranded by an errant storm.
66. The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux
Paul Theroux is one of America’s foremost travel writers, and he shows why in this seminal travelogue about his journey by train through Europe, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. He returns by — what else? — the Trans-Siberian Railway.
67. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
The international bestseller that’s been adapted into a Hollywood blockbuster starring Julia Roberts, Eat, Pray, Love is the true story of one woman’s search for truth. As it so happens, that quest takes her all over the world, from India to Indonesia.
68. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
In 1990, Christopher Johnson McCandless gave away all of his money and left home, never to return. Two years later, he headed into the forest in Alaska, where his body would eventually be found. This is his story, related by adventure writer Jon Krakauer.
69. A Cook’s Tour by Anthony Bourdain
Anthony Bourdain’s exuberant, witty voice is as alive as ever in this bestselling book. Like other travel accounts, A Cook’s Tour documents Bourdain’s travels across the world. But there’s a twist in this fun travelogue: he’s in search of the perfect meal.
70. The Sea Runners by Ivan Doig
Based on a true story, The Sea Runners is a riveting account of four indentured servants’ plot to escape their Russian work camp in Alaska. But their plans reach a snag when they encounter their greatest foe: the Pacific Northwest coast. Masterfully written, this book pits man against all the elements that nature can throw him.
71. Into the Heart of Borneo by Redmond O'Hanlon
If you’ve never read a travelogue, start with this one. In 1983, a group of three friends embark on an expedition to the center of Borneo. Written with wit and sincerity, writer Redmond O’Hanlon brings the jungles and wilds of Borneo alive in this treasure of a book.
72. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
Bill Bryson is synonymous with humor when it comes to travel writing — and this might be one of his most famous installments. In the 1990s, Bryson takes up the challenge of hiking the entire Appalachian Trail with his friend Stephen Katz. Mishaps expectedly occur along this adventure. But, of course, it’s the journey and not the destination that counts.
73. A Voyage for Madmen by Peter Nichols
In 1968, nine men set out to race each other around the world on boat. Only one would eventually cross the finish line. This is the true story about that fateful race, its “sad, heroic characters,” and how one decision can spell life or death.
74. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Cheryl Strayed’s account of her trek along the 1,100-mile Pacific Crest Trail instantly became a New York Times bestseller when it was published. Fans of Eat, Pray, Love will particularly fall in love with this book.
75. Green Hills of Africa by Ernest Hemingway
One of Ernest Hemingway’s rare nonfiction books, Green Hills of Africa documents the month that he and his wife spent on a safari in East Africa. It’s a sparse, tightly-written book about the hunting that he pursued there, with some choice nuggets about writing interspersed in between.
76. Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck
In 1960, John Steinbeck took a road trip around the United States with his poodle (who was named Charley). From New York to California and back again, Travels with Charley is a ruminative reflection of America and everything that the country Steinbeck loved stood for.
77. The Worst Journey in the World by Robert Falcon Scott
You might think the title is an exaggeration, but let us be the first to assure you it’s not. This book is a memoir of the tragic 1910 British Antarctic Expedition led by Robert Falcon Scott, who wished to be the first in the world to reach the South Pole. The entire party to the Pole died on the journey. This memoir, written by a man on the support team, explains why in grim detail.
78. A Tramp Abroad by Mark Twain
Famous for writing perhaps the greatest work of American literature in The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain was nevertheless an accomplished traveler. This book details his travels through central and southern Europe. A must-read, if only for his chapter on ants.
79. Mawson’s Will by Lennard Bickel
Sometimes adventures must be read in order to be believed. Douglas Mawson faced disease, snow, Herculean winds, the death of his dogs and only companions, starvation, and thirst — and still somehow survived while managing to map nearly 1,500 miles of the Antarctic coastline. This is the dramatic story of the expedition.
80. In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick
Welcome to the true story that inspired the events of Melville’s Moby-Dick. In 1820, a whaling expedition was foiled when a sperm whale sunk the ship, Essex. For three months afterward, the crew lived on three small boats, facing wild winds, the sea itself, and cannibalism to survive.
81. Wind, Sand, and Stars by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
The memoir of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry isn’t just a contemplation of life: it’s a full-fledged adventure book in its own right. Saint-Exupéry was an accomplished aviator and once crashed in 1935 in the Sahara Desert without water or food. This is his story.
82. In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin
In November 1974, Bruce Chatwin flew to Peru and then made his way down to Patagonia. He would spend six months in the region, traveling over untraveled ground and writing down everything that he saw. This is the seminal work for anyone who wants to know more about this wild, beautiful, and desolate part of the world.
83. The Road to Oxiana by Robert Byron
Published in 1938, The Road to Oxiana is one of the premiere examples of travel writing. You might not want to miss out on Robert Byron’s account of his ten-month travels in the Middle East, credited by writer Paul Fussell as being to poetry what Ulysses was to the novel.
Adventure Books for Children and Teens
Ignite the spirit of adventure early! From Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to Wizard of Oz, these classic children novels will show that people of any age can go on a journey.
84. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
Avi’s popular tale of intrigue on the high seas. 13-year old Charlotte Doyle finds herself the only passenger on a sea voyage that bristles with danger. Features a murder trial, cruel captains, and a brave young girl who has to use all of her wits and resources if she wants to survive.
85. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Ready for an adventure that’s the darling of children’s book world? Lewis Carroll wrote this book in 1865 but Alice’s journey through Wonderland (which she enters by falling through a rabbit hole) remains one of the most cherished — and extraordinary — stories in English literature.
86. Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
This children’s classic all began with The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, in which the four Pevensie siblings step into a wardrobe… and into Narnia, where an entirely magical journey begins. Complete with talking animals, evil queens, and Turkish Delights.
87. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
When fifth grader Jesse Aarons befriends his new neighbor, Leslie Burke, a beautiful friendship — and kingdom — is born. Terabithia is the imaginary sanctuary of their minds, but the consequences of building it might be more tragic than they anticipated in this children’s book.
88. Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum
Does The Wizard of Oz even need an introduction? This whimsical story by Frank L. Baum turned into one of the most treasured children’s books in history, spawning spin-offs, sequels, movies, and even musicals. Follow Dorothy as she travels along the Yellow Brick Road in the magical Land of Oz, meeting a Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Cowardly Lion in her quest to return back to Kansas.
89. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
Edward Tulane is a china rabbit. Bet you didn’t expect that twist, did you? But life can get hard for china rabbits, as Edward falls into the sea and spends 297 days on the bottom of the ocean. One thing’s for certain: it’s a long way back to the surface.
90. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
You haven’t really read an adventure unless you’ve read Diana Wynne Jones’ timeless Howl’s Moving Castle! This is the story about Sophie Hatter, the oldest of three sisters, and how she becomes an old crone and meets the powerful Wizard Howl. Delightful, charming, and twisty.
91. The BFG by Roald Dahl
Did you know that Big Friendly Giants provide the best adventures of all? That’s because of all the land they can cover with one stride — and you get an even better view if you’re sitting on their shoulders as they do so,. Follow Sophie and the BFG as they go into a world of frobscottles and snozzcumbers to battle the Fleshlumpeater.
92. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
You’ve probably never met a hero like Despereaux Tilling: a young but noble mouse. Now he is on a quest to rescue Princess Pea, a human girl, from evil rats. Beware of underestimating Despereaux: he might be small, but he’s as brave as the biggest adventurers.
93. Martin the Warrior by Brian Jacques
Though Redwall is the first book that Brian Jacques published in the celebrated Redwall series Martin the Warrior is one of the first books chronologically — and it’s one of the more adventurous installments overall. A young heroic mouse named Martin escapes enslavement under the maniacal stout, Badrang the Tyrant. But then he must journey across the land to build an army that will be able to defeat Badrang once and for all.
94. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
The book that spawned the line, “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” By turn brilliant, witty, romantic, and thrilling, The Princess Bride (along with Buttercup, Westley, and company) have enchanted hearts across the world. A rollicking adventure through a fantastical world that was later immortalized in film.
95. Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman came up with the idea for this book when he miswrote “Caroline” as “Coraline” one day. In this dark fantasy novella, Coraline Jones moves into an old house with a mysterious door. A neighbor tells her: “Don’t go through the door.” Of course, Coraline goes through the door — only to find a world that she could never have imagined.
Adventurous Short Stories
You don’t necessarily need 50,000 words to bring the thrill of adventure to life! If you only have 30 minutes on hand, the below short stories will be able to whet your appetite.
96. “The Sea Raiders” by H. G. Wells
Squid monsters. Need we say more? H.G. Wells wrote this short story in the fashion of Moby-Dick and the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, but the tentacle-y thrills of this short story are all his own.
97. “A Sound of Thunder” by Ray Bradbury
Time travel has become a reality in 2055 — and a company called Time Safari Inc is advertising a chance to travel back in time to hunt dinosaurs. A lot of things can go wrong — and they do, in this masterful short story by Ray Bradbury about the butterfly effect.
98. “To Build a Fire” by Jack London
As you might be able to tell already, Jack London had a thirst for adventure and the wild. His famous short story, “To Build a Fire,” deals with one man’s struggle against the arctic winter in the Yukon Territory.
99. “Sandkings” by George R. R. Martin
Before A Song of Ice and Fire, George R.R. Martin wrote this fantastically dark novelette that won the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, and the Locus Award in 1980. Set on the fictional planet of Baldur, it’s about a playboy named Simon Kress who doubles as an exotic animal collector and one day comes across a terrarium filled with creatures called sandkings… and what happens next becomes the kind of dark adventure that only GRRM can write.
100. “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” by Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway was a big-game hunter, and he drew from his own experiences to write “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.” In it, Francis Macomber, his wife, and a friend are in Africa hunting buffalo, which does not turn out as they wanted.