Books on Adventure
A list we had hoped our readers would enjoy turned out to be one of our most popular features. You asked for it—repeatedly—now you got it: the 100 best in all their glory. Plus: Help us update this list by posting a comment nominating your favorite new adventure books.
Text by Anthony Brandt
Illustration by Jack Unruh
What are the essential ingredients in a great adventure story? The Latin root of the word, oddly enough, means "an arrival, " but adventure almost always entails a going out, and not just any going out but a bold one: Sail the Pacific on a balsa raft; pit your skills against K2; sledge to the South Pole. It is a quest whose outcome is unknown but whose risks are tangible, a challenge someone meets with courage, brains, and effort—and then survives, we hope, to tell the tale.
"Safe return doubtful, " as the famous apocryphal newspaper ad soliciting Antarctica volunteers put it. No matter: There's seldom a shortage of applicants. Humans hunger for adventure, and most is voluntary—people choose to go out and explore or climb or fly alone across vast oceans. But sometimes adventure is thrust upon us: A jet crashes in the high Andes, stranding its passengers in the snows. A whale staves and sinks a ship. These, too, are tests of courage, endurance, resourcefulness. We stay up all night reading to see what happens.
Such stories are as old as civilization. The ancient Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh is an adventure story. So are the Odyssey, the Viking sagas, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. And they have mythological roots: Culture heroes go out into the unknown, endure various tests, bring back a boon—the Golden Fleece; the Holy Grail; the knowledge, at the very least, of strange new lands, strange new people.
The adventurer's rewards today are more personal but no less considerable. And those of us who stay behind still ask: What was it like? These are the books that answer that question. To help us choose and rank them, we gathered a panel of writers, critics, and other experts. We asked them to help us find the best stories of exploration, survival, and daring recreation—true stories, we should add; fiction is something else. (War stories are something else as well, and not included here.)
It might seem an impossible task to rank 100 great, but very diverse, books in terms of fine gradations of greatness. Yet anyone can tell you why they prefer one book over another. And that's what our panelists did. We asked them to assign a number of points to each book, taking several factors into account: the book's pure literary merit; its "adrenaline factor, " or the level of excitement they felt reading it; and its impact on our history and culture. When we tallied the scores, we found the books that rose to the top were those that succeed on more than one front: great writing about great deeds.
In order to keep the list focused on adventure—as opposed to travel or nature writing, both of which deserve lists of their own—we excluded books that didn't involve at least a measure of physical risk or audacity. And we leaned toward first-person accounts over later retellings. Until quite recently, writing about one's adventures has been largely a luxury of men—and usually white, Western men at that. This is an unfortunate fact of history that a list like this cannot help but reflect, despite our inclusion of some neglected classics by others. Finally, for all the scientific rigor we brought to the task, our rankings reflect the personal tastes of our panelists. Readers may well disagree. So quarrel away. But read.
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Great Books On This ...2004-01-26 12:36:14 by Hoskie
There are some great books out there on this topic ... unfortunately I am no where near my bookshelves to give you some titles. I do know that I have a book or two on the process of working your way around the world ... as well as the whole process of structuring flights for a circumnavigation of the globe.
Here is a great site/company for planning your adventure: luck!
I only read books when I've no computer access.2012-01-15 20:12:22 by blue_aster
Last one I read was "To Have And To Hold" because it was on the top of the top box of the nearest book pile. People do not write like that anymore. They are going to make a movie of it again soon. It is an adventure romance set in the English colony of Virginia some time ago. It is interesting to read something I wouldn't ordinarily read.
Somebody posted a news story here about Andamanese people being bothered by tourists. I liked the song they sang. I knew I'd read of these people before and sought links for more reading. Read this one:
David Shannon books are great2007-07-19 08:34:29 by -----
Duck on a Bike
How I Became a Pirate
Pirates Don't Change Diapers
A Bad Case of Stripes
Toot and Puddle books are fun, too.
Other good books are Usborne books. They have some great books called their Adventure Series. These are longer books with seek and find pictures on each page and kids can pick what happens next. They are a good introduction to listening to longer chapter books.
Outside Mag on Tyler Hamilton's book2012-08-31 20:48:14 by Brah
Wow. I didn't think this book would amount to much, but Outside thinks differently. Nine former Postal teammates agreed to cooperate with him on The Secret Race, verifying and corroborating Hamiltons account.
LANCE ARMSTRONGS SECRET IS OUT
a historic, definitive indictment of cyclings culture of doping during the Armstrong era
LANCE ARMSTRONG: CASE CLOSED
Tyler Hamiltons new book, The Secret Race, makes it impossible to believe Lances story anymore
The Tim Burton Collection + Book (Pee Wee's Big Adventure/Beetlejuice/Batman/Batman Returns/Mars Attacks!/Corpse Bride/Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) [Blu-ray]
DVD (Warner Home Video)