Books with 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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Looking for people to play PNP & PC games with2012-01-17 15:15:09 by MaliciousMoose
Looking for one or more people to join us in playing PNP (GURPs, etc.) games and PC games with (Many of them through Steam). We have three players now but four seems to be best for a lot of what we like doing. Prefer people that can play fairly regularly, and we prefer talking over Skype rather than having to organize meeting up to play.
Need someone that is just looking to have some fun and isn't too obsessed about the PNP rules, as we like to change them to suit our needs and focus more on having a fun adventure and less on having to read rule books constantly.
MUST be willing to stick to a G rating, as the group does not want anything sexual in any way, including jokes and comments and such.
8 Memorable Books of 20072007-12-30 20:30:35 by Brimmer
I spent the better part of 2007 perched on a bar stool in San Franciscos fabled literary saloon, Vesuvio Cafe across the alley (that would be Jack Kerouac Alley) from famed City Lights Books. The circumstances that put me on a bar stool for 12 months is a long and often painful tale painful literally and figuratively. Ive written up an account of this adventure but havent had the nerve to post it yet. If a sufficient number of hands raise, perhaps Ill post. Until then
heres a quick rundown of some of the good and the bad in books acquired and devoured, along with many pints of Bass Ale, in 07
Can Someone Please Recommend a book?2009-09-23 20:23:42 by -
I am very particular about what I read and tend to NOT read what people tell me to or what Oprah tells me to :)
I like dark, philosophical, disturbing subjects that are grounded in reality but have ironic twists. I also like adventure stories involving epic journey's and self discovery; i am obsessed with the history of NYC and stories that take place in the 30s-50's in NY. Some books I like are:
Catcher In The Rye
Into The Wild
The Odd Sea
Can anyone make any recommendations? thanks a bunch!
And three more good books for ages 8-182012-09-24 18:35:19 by -
Books for Grades 4 to 8< WhyNotWhyNot >09/24 12:08:44
I am a great believer that the most important purpose of elementary education is training in imagination. It is a given that there is always the need for basic skills that require rote work (the 3Rs) but ultimately the most valuable skill for a lifetime is imagination (and a burning desire to pursue ideas). Adventure books, historical fiction, and biographies about people who pursued visions with great passion are the tools for training students to imagine. Your post indicates that you have the adventure books category covered
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)