50 Best Adventure Books Ever Written (2021 Picks)

We have compiled a list of the 50 best adventure books that will take you on a journey of unexplored places, paths, and exceptional achievements.

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A bit of action and adventure is all you need to spice up your mundane routine. Adventure books can bewitch readers into their captivating plot and compelling, brave characters. Here we have compiled a list of the 50 best adventure books that will take you on a journey of unexplored places, paths, and exceptional achievements. 

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Table of contents

50+ Best Adventure Books Hand-picked

King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard

King Solomon’s Mines is a story of a group of explorers led by Allan Quatermain searching for the lost brother of one of the parties in an uncharted region of Africa.

As it was the first English adventure fiction set in Africa, this 1885 book is recognized as the origin of the Lost World literary genre. At the time, Africa was thought to be limitless and mostly unexplored, at least from a Western standpoint. It was a groundbreaking novel since it dealt with adventure in an unfamiliar and constrained territory. 

Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne 

Journey to the center of the Earth is a gripping tale by Jules Verne where German professor Otto Lidenbrock believes volcanic tubes will take them to the center of the world, which leads them to discover a completely new universe. This story is an all-time classic and one of the best underground fiction ever written. This is a captivating adventure tale where three friends deflect death multiple times but emerge victorious in the end. 

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – contentious 19th-century classic is a thrilling adventure narrative that asks the reader and its narrator a moral question. Like in most adventure stories, the land represents safety, whereas the water represents catastrophe, but Twain cleverly flips those characteristics. The land and everything it implies is more hazardous. The Mississippi’s shoreline is home to slave dealers and child murderers—while the raft is unstable and temporary, it offers safety and tranquility for Huck and Jim. For a novel this old, Twain does a wonderful job exploring various themes intertwined with adventure.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Cormac McCarthy is an American writer who also happens to be the savior of the adventure genre, keeping adventure books true to their meaning. His novel, The Road, is an epic journey of a young child and his father. In the end, it is love that sustains the family relation regardless of hardships post mother’s demise. This novel depicts the worst as well as the best that humanity is capable of!

The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles

Paul Bowl’s first-ever novel, which was published in 1949, struck a chord in many readers. The Sheltering Sky is a ruthless and heartbreaking narrative about three American travelers – a married couple and their friend stranded in the towns and deserts of North Africa post World War II. It makes the human mind boggle, imagining the unfathomable emptiness and impassive harshness of the desert. The author goes into creative descriptions about his adventures which adds fascinating elements to the novel.  

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

Jonathan Swift is a satirist who has perfectly penned down Gulliver’s Travels. He has divided the book into four parts: The initial portion is a journey to Lilliput, where Gulliver sees himself in a realm of little people and is recognized as a gigantic human. The next part is a journey to Brobdingnag, where he finds himself too tiny for interpretations, and the inhabitants are gigantic in his eyes. The third section is a journey to Laputa island, and the fourth section is a voyage to Houyhnhnms. This book will turn you into a satirist who enjoys well-written wit framed in a compelling travel story.

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

Melville began by writing more conventional adventure tales set in exotic South Sea settings with appealing and dangerous inhabitants. He then penned Moby-Dick, which was far more brilliant. Moby-Dick is the narrative of an unholy conflict fought by a strangely captivating madman against a huge, deadly, and mysterious creature as the sea itself. The work is a part of Melville’s lifetime reflection on America, more than merely just an adventure.

Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss

Johann’s famous book The Swiss Family Robinson is what he is most remembered for. The Robinsons leave their home in Switzerland with the intention of settling halfway around the world. However, things do not turn out the way they had hoped. They wash ashore as the sole survivors of a horrific shipwreck, only to discover that the danger has just begun. As they strive to live and build their own civilization in the woods, their courage, wit, and faith are put to the test. They eventually manage to establish an exquisite compound within which they live comfortably.

She by H. Rider Haggard

Henry Rider Haggard is an adventure novelist who mainly sets his stories in exotic places like Africa. She is the tale of a college professor Horace Holly and his young apprentice Leo Vince who follow directions on a broken pottery shard to a fabled lost city in the African jungles, where they meet She Who Must Be Obeyed, the land’s supposedly immortal ruler. The story narrates a variety of late Victorian racial and evolutionary ideas. Female leadership and feminine behavior are prominent topics in the tale. Because of the controversial portrayal of women in this work, it has attracted both praise and criticism.

 

Ayesha: The Return of She by H. Rider Haggard

The sequel of ‘She,’ ‘Ayesha’ is published in 1905 by H. Rider Haggard. Set sixteen years after the arrival of She, this story follows the same individuals as both the College professor Horace Holly and his young ward Leo Venice who are on a hunt for a mysterious reincarnation of She Who Must Be Obeyed to the outer limits of the planet. They go east after realizing that She is no longer in Africa, eventually arriving at a lamasery in the Tibet Mountains. Oddly, the story closes with Leo becoming a source of conflict between Atene and Hesea, the monarchs of the city of Kaloon.

The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle

This timeless masterpiece by Arthur Conan Doyle sparked the Lost World genre and captured the imagination of countless young boys. Professor Challenger, a paleontologist on a thrilling hunt for prehistoric animals in the Amazon, is introduced to Doyle’s readers in The Lost World. Professor Challenger’s troop includes a cynic colleague, Professor Summerlee; the composed sportsman Lord John Roxton; and the narrator and intrepid reporter Edward Malone. The explorers are stranded among dinosaurs and violent ape-people after their bridge to civilization crumbles. The story unfolds with elements of wit and satire.

 

The Man Who Would Be King by Rudyard Kipling

The Man Who Would Be King is widely regarded as one of the finest books of all time, written by renowned author Rudyard Kipling. This timeless masterpiece undoubtedly captivates a new generation of readers. It tells the story of two roaming British adventurers who become rulers of Kafiristan, only to fall from power dramatically. This treasure by Rudyard Kipling is highly recommended for anyone who appreciates reading timeless bits of great literature.

The Adventure of Captain Hatteras by Jules Verne

This is the first fresh translation in over a century of the fascinating story of polar exploration by ever-popular adventure writer Jules Verne. Captain Hatteras gathers a team to reach the North Pole in this novel which follows a string of adventures. Their willpower is tested along the route as they confront sub-zero temperatures and the possibility of famine, and the men eventually begin to murmur about rebelling. The novel is jam-packed with classic adventures from beginning to the end, as any Verne’s work.

Congo by Michael Crichton

Michael Congo has perfectly assembled the book with a perfect blend of science fiction and adventure. Follow an expedition into the Congo that is a part rescue mission, part treasure search. The crew seeks abducted colleagues and locates a diamond mine that may contain the jewels necessary to finish their ambitious research. When man-eating gorillas assault the crew in the area, the fate of the other crew is exposed. 

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

Michael Crichton’s work within the genres of techno-thriller and science fiction has excelled in the art of captivating the attention of young readers. His novel, The Jurassic Park, is an ideal mix of reality and fantasy. The scientists at the amusement park Jurassic Park have genetically modified dinosaurs to walk on the planet once again. Because of how captivating the book is, it has led to numerous renditions being made.

Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

Kidnapped is a profligate book penned down by Robert Louis, as it maximizes the experience of adventure. The story starts with David Balfour, an adolescent Scotsman orphaned by his father’s demise, abandoned by his relative, Shanghaied, and sent to New World to live a life of slavery. He is rescued by a swashbuckling Highlander named Alan Breck. With the help of a friend, Balfour flees to the Highlands, where he faces further hazards and complexity to reclaim his rightful property as David makes his way back to Scotland to confront his uncle and recovers his birthright where he discovers the real adventure.

The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne

The Mysterious Island is widely regarded as Jules Verne’s masterpiece, based on the factual reflection of Alexander Selkirk. He lived alone for over five years on an uninhabited island off the coast of Chile. The plot revolves around a group of American Civil War Captives. They attempt to flee through a hijacked hot air balloon, which crashes on a mysterious island where they must strive for survival.

Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne

Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne is a thrilling adventure narrative set mostly in Victorian England but covering the globe as its protagonist, Phileas Fogg, travels. Around the World in Eighty Days is a great book written with a multicultural and open worldview. Fogg, a stern, brittle man who slowly displays that he does have the heart of an Englishman, is vividly described. The novel is impossible to put down and depicts a spirit of adventure growing at the turn of the century.

Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

In this iconic Peter Pan tale, Barrie works magic on listeners of all ages. The boy who refused to grow up is a timeless character who needs no introduction. The fly works alongside Pan and the Lost Boys as they fight off Captain Hook and his merry band of pirates. For nearly a century, J. M. Barrie’s literary masterwork has been the bedtime story of choice for growing boys. Peter Pan is a great classic of imaginative fiction because it is comical and full of exciting suspense and bittersweet truths. It produces a charm on readers of all ages.

 

The Beach by Alex Garland

The Beach, a nationwide bestseller and Alex Garland’s debut novel is a highly competent and intriguing story that focuses on a generation in their twenties. A small group of teenage backpackers embarks on a once-in-a-lifetime expedition to quest a famous beach claimed to be flawless. Nevertheless, as they get to the beach, they realize that something so exquisite is difficult to keep hidden. And hence, it is their adventure all around the beach which makes this book spellbinding.

Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini

Rafael Sabatini is known for work for The Captain Blood, which also happens to be one of his bestsellers worldwide. The story is about an Irish doctor convicted of treason but manages to flee and avoid execution. He gradually makes his way to the Caribbean and becomes one of the most renowned pirates on the high seas. While Captain Blood is a work of fiction, his actions are partially inspired by a pirate’s life by the name of Henry Morgan. 

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

William Golding, one of the famous writers who knows how to make readers hooked to the novel, left no stone unturned to win the heart of many through his work for the Lord of Flies. On the surface, this classic is a story of adventure and endurance. Still, it is also an in-depth examination of human nature. For example, when a plane crashes on a secluded island, there are no adult survivors, leaving the children to fend for themselves until help arrives.

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Joseph Conrad’s mysterious “Heart of Darkness” is on the list of the world’s 100 best novels, as it continues to intrigue and entices the readers. This book is a harsh critique of humanity’s corruption. Marlow presents the story of Conrad’s alter ego, based on his expedition up the Congo River in 1980. It’s a descent into darkness and terror, both physically and symbolically, as the narrator descends into a terrifying jungle landscape and faces the morally evil Mr. Kurtz.

The Three Musketeers by Alexandra Dumas

In this swashbuckling epic, a young D’Artagnan sets off for Paris in the hopes of joining the Musketeers, a force of warriors revered by King Louis XIII and feared by Cardinal Richelieu. D’Artagnan proves he has the heart of a Musketeer by battling alongside Athos, Porthos, and Aramis as they battle their foes, earning him a spot in their ranks. Soon, the courageous trio is due to protect the queen’s courage against the cruel games of their enemies. 

The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan 

A piece of classic literature written in the 20th century, the thirty-nine steps, is Richard Hannay’s story. He has recently returned to England after spending years in South Africa and mundane life in London. Just days after contacting an American who told him about an assassination plot, a murder occurs in his flat. Hannay runs in Scotland, an obvious suspect for the cops and an easy target for the killers. To stay ahead of his enemies, he needs courage and grit. This is a gripping piece by John Buchan which keeps you hooked till the end.

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

The best-selling book published by author Jack London features Buck, a loving dog. He is kidnapped from his family home and forced into the horrific life as an Alaskan sled dog in this compelling narrative. Buck is passed from master to master on an incredible adventure that culminates in being the renowned wolf pack leader. This book compels the reader into a dog’s life in the sledding world while also touching London’s 19th-century culture.

The Sea Wolf by Jack London 

This book presents the intriguing story of Humphrey Van Wheydon, a wealthy man who jumped into the water when his ship collides with another in a thick fog. He is eventually saved by a seal-hunting expedition led by a violent guy known as the Sea Wolf, who decides to keep him on board as a servant. This novel appears to be an adventure story on the surface. Still, it presents a story of Wolf’s inhumanity and brutality if investigated deeply.

Roughing It by Mark Twain

As Mark Twain journeys through the Old West, he presents his unique perspective. From Stagecoaches, gold, prospecting to a villain straight out of a Spaghetti Western, this book makes for a thrilling read from beginning to end. Put under the fictional category, Twain stated that these anecdotes were factual. Still, it is widely believed that some of them had been embellished.

Lands of Lost Borders by Kate Harris

This book is written when one is faced with choices to make in life. Kate Harris also felt that she was stuck in a monotonous lifestyle when she wanted to be a generalist adventurer in a world where everything was already discovered and mapped. As a result, she resolved to be a scientist who also travels to space. For pass time, Kate cycled down a little portion of the mythical Silk Road with her friend from childhood until her launch into space, then stayed down to study at MIT and Oxford.

Running Home by Katie Arnold

Running Home is a novel on the tales we tell each other so that sense is made of our lives — the ones that keep us chained and the ones that happen to free us. Exhilarating, transcending, and mesmerizing, this book brushes on marathon runs, love and is fit for anyone who understands the lure of something wilder and bigger among themselves or has been beaten over by life.

Beyond Possible by Nimsdai Purja

This book presents Nims, a former Gurkha soldier who accomplished what is impossible in most people’s books. He is known as Project Possible because he has climbed 14 summits over 8,000 meters in seven months and seven days. Nims recounts his time before his latest heroic success of leading a team to the summit of K2 in the winter. He discusses how the world’s greatest climbing exploits require collaboration, integrity, willingness to learn, and leadership.

The Lost Pianos of Siberia by Sophy Roberts

This book is an intense read for people who love traveling and history. The writer delves deep into the cultural writing, music, and history from the subject of old pianos. In this book, Roberts embarks on a journey of three years to track down several musical instruments to discover one with a Siberian heritage. Her trip takes her to a lonely country inhabited by tigers who are wild and molded by its grim history, but also incredibly beautiful one — and sprinkled with pianos.

This Road I Ride by Juliana Buhring

This book will be a treat for everyone who wants to know more about physical and mental strength. Juliana’s account in this book includes glimpses of her time in captivity in a religious cult, being depressed since the loss of a man she loved, and other terrible events which she worked her way through while across the world cycling by herself to commemorate her lover’s memory. This book is an inspiration to beginner cyclists. It shows the journey of the very first young woman to cycle around the world, starting from Italy.

Wild By Cheryl Strayed

Wild discusses the true nature of hiking. From her unpreparedness to her tiredness, the writer makes sure we empathize with her. There are moments when you feel like you are right there with Cheryl, carrying a heavy pack with painful feet, filth, hunger, and loneliness. At the same time, other times, you will question her lack of preparation. Cheryl is a writer who is exceptional at what she does, and this book will convince you to take up hiking. The horrors and delights of one woman are vividly captured in Wild through this book.

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Shortly after graduating from college, McCandless had wandered through the SouthWest and West, pursuing a vision like that of his heroes. He left his car and all his money in the Mojave Desert. He gives himself a different name to be free from luxuries for the experiences that unfiltered nature offers, one that is devoid of belongings. McCandless tossed the maps away because he wanted a vacant place on the map. He flees into the wilderness, abandoning his family in search of excitement.

She Explores by Gale Straub

Gale Straub’s She Explores is a vibrant festival of female strength and courage, as well as a motivational friend for any woman who aspires to experience traveling the world independently. “She Explores,” tells the tale of 40 different women on remarkable trips in nature, combining spectacular travel photography with engaging personal narratives: women living in vans, trek in the jungle, embark on an unexpected camping trip, and so much more.

Spirit Run by Noe Alvarez

Spirit Run is a debut memoir by a superb storyteller known as Noe Alvarez. It is both heartbreaking and inspiring; it is a story about straining a body to its rock bottom. A Mexican immigrant’s son runs a marathon within Native American from Guatemala to Canada to flee a life of fruit-packing plant employment. He forges a new relationship with the country by running across mountains, cities, and the Mexican region that his dying parents left behind. The story happens to be more of a spiritual journey than just a person who runs back and forth from places.

Karakoram by Steve Swenson

Karakoram is the personal narrative of a world-class alpinist Steve Swenson, who climbs K2 and some other Karakoram Range peaks, traversing the boundaries of Pakistan, India, and China, set against the background of great altitude and rivalry between these countries over Kashmir. Readers accompany him on multiple trips on these 8000-meter summits, get an up-close glimpse at everything from expedition dynamics among his various mountaineering companions to trip logistics.

Alone on the Wall by Alex Honnold

Honnold’s incredible life and career are chronicled in Alone on the Wall, which is packed with lessons about living bravely and independently, taking many risks and chances, and staying motivated even in the challenge of tremendous peril and difficult situations. The readers also get to view more of Alex’s journals and a better look into his thoughts by reading his journey in this novel.

Sovietistan by Erica Fatland

In this book, Sovietistan, Erica Fatland takes the booklovers on a thoughtful and enlightening trip to learn how a legacy of the Soviet has shaped these countries, with administrations trying to democracy and authoritarianism. She meets the bride snatching victims in Kyrgyzstani villages; she sees Kazakhstan’s vast and barren Polygon, where the Soviet Association experimented with nuclear bomb explosions; she meets gatherers of Shrimp on the dried-up Aral Sea’s banks, and she observes dictators.

 Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

This book is a result of curiosity, simply behind the question, “why does my foot hurt?” Christopher McDougall sets out to uncover the secrets of a tribe of the world’s greatest distance runners in the hunt for an answer. In the process, he proves that everything we thought we understood about running is incorrect. In this journey, he takes us from Harvard’s high-tech science labs to North America’s valleys and cold peaks, where a growing number of ultra-runners are straining their bodies to the limit, and finally to Copper Canyons race.

Full Tilt by Dervla Murphy

This is a bicycling adventure book that paints a vivid imagination of the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Pakistan in the 1960s and shows a lone woman cycling through these nations. The book is based on letters she wrote home while traveling from Ireland to India and is an inspiring account of her journey and dreams and aspirations, which are fulfilled.

Eat The Buddha by Barbara Demick

This book shows the continuous Tibetan struggle. Hence, it is a compelling read for those looking into the royal family of Ngaba, who died at the hands of the Chinese communist parties’ tyranny. Her storytelling, a type of novelization of interviews with exiles and refugees mixed in with history, effectively pulls people in these far locations closer to us, eliciting empathy and spurring more action and change.

Why We Swim by Bonnie Tsui

This book sheds insight into why we swim and brings the limelight onto Olympic gold medalists. One of the swim clubs located in Baghdad immerged into Saddam Hussein’s swimming pool, present-day swimmers straight from Japan, and a fisherman from Iceland. He resists a freezing swim right after the Lilli wreckage. It is accurately penned down by the writer Bonnie Tsiu to keep the reader glued to the book!

Leave Only Footprints by Conor Knighton

For those who need a change in nature, this is a perfect book for you. The protagonist, Conor Knighton, was scared that spending a year traveling throughout “America’s Best Idea” would turn out to be his worst decision. However, he wanted a change of scenery because of a broken heart and broken engagement. Thus, his journey across every national park in the United States changed his worldview and made him see things in an entirely different mindset for God, technology, and love.

In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick

The whaling ship and its twenty-member crew set out for the South Pacific in 1819 from Nantucket Island. They were traveling when they were attacked by an enraged sperm whale, which wrecked their ship. Forced to surrender the ship and huddle together for ninety days in three small boats, In the Heart of the Sea are a tale of endless battle and social cohesion that every adventurer must read.

Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing

Endurance is one of history’s most spectacular sea expeditions. The journey of adventurer Sir Ernest Shackleton and his company of 28 men as they attempt to cross the Antarctic continent is portrayed in this book. It is a tale about immense determination and the human will to live. Shackleton gives one of the finest leadership performances of all-time against the most unimaginable of obstacles.

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

Mount Everest is the highest point on the planet. The few courageous souls who attempt to reach the top face formidable obstacles and some of the world’s most hostile weather. Jon Krakauer was attempting to ascend Mount Everest on May 11th, 1996, when the weather at the peak abruptly changed, and a big storm closed in. As a result, one of the deadliest mountaineering tragedies in history occurred. Moreover, this novel highlights the story of the courageous climbers and their day on the mountain.

Beau Geste by Percival Christopher Wren

In the years before World War I, Wren’s tale accurately reflects the life in the French Foreign Legion. The Geste brothers, led by the eldest Michael (nicknamed Beau), join the Foreign Legion to pursue their old-fashioned notions of “doing the right thing,” This is the story’s final beau geste—a great act that leads to nothing. However, there are desert battles, brutal commanders, and plenty of adventure value to be found, so it’s not all for nothing. 

Sahara by Clive Cussler

Cussler is widely regarded as the king of the contemporary adventure novel, and Sahara is his best work. It is a story about Dirk Pitt, who thwarts an attempted assassination of a scientist discovering a disease that drives thousands of North Africans mad while searching for a treasure on the Nile. Since this novel has integrated a lot, the writer assures that the reader doesn’t get a chance to depict mundanity. 

EPIC ADVENTURES RECOMMENDATIONS!

FAQs

What is a good adventure book to read?

Some of the best adventure books to read are:

  1. Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
  2. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
  3. Treasure Island by Robert Louis
  4. The Three Musketeers by Alexandra Dumas
  5. Odyssey by Homer
  6. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonath Swift

What ten books should everyone read?

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  3. 1984 by George Orwell
  4. The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
  5. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  6. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  7. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  8. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  9. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  10. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

What are the ten best novels of all time?

  1. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
  2. Emma by Jane Austen
  3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  4. Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  5. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  6. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  7. War and Peace by Tolstoy
  8. Mystery by Stephen King
  9. Ulysses by James Joyce
  10. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust

Why should one read adventure books?

A good adventure book has the power to take us to a place we might not otherwise discover. We become interested in the characters and the things that matter to them. We go to locations we would never go ordinarily, and we sometimes see a spark of adventure in ourselves that we did not realize existed.

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