From long beloved classics to modern tales of exploration, we round up our favorite adventure books to read or gift this holiday season. We open our list with two time-honored works of fiction, followed by 10 real-life accounts of survival and adventure.
1. Around the World In 80 Days, Jules Verne, 1873
Possibly the world’s most famous adventure novel, this story of an eccentric British gentleman circumnavigating the world never grows old. If anything, it gets better with every year.
2. The Call of the Wild, Jack London, 1903
Set during the Klondike Gold Rush, The Call of the Wild is not only a story of a brave dog named Buck, but also a fascinating account of the late 18th century Yukon as witnessed by the author.
3. The Kon-Tiki Expedition: By Raft Across the South Seas, Thor Heyerdahl, 1948
When in 1946 a young anthropologist proposed a theory that South Americans had once travelled to Polynesia by sea, his fellow scientists laughed at him. To prove his point, he built a traditional wooden raft and embarked on a treacherous journey.
4. Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage, Alfred Lansing, 1959
One of the greatest survival tales ever told, Endurance recalls the harrowing experiences of a group of sailors trapped on drifting ice for over a year.
5. Tracks: A Woman’s Solo Trek across 1700 Miles of Australian Outback, Robyn Davidson, 1980
This heartbreaking and heartwarming story of one woman’s nine-month journey across the desert was documented by a National Geographic photographer and later made into a Hollywood movie.
6. Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer, 1996
In 1992, a young man ventured into Alaska in search of the meaning of life, and never came back.
7. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, Cheryl Strayed, 2012
Made famous by a blockbuster movie with Reese Witherspoon, Strayed’s memoir is even more compelling than its movie adaptation.
8. Alone on the Wall, Alex Honnold, David Roberts, 2015
The biography of the greatest free soloist of all times offers a glimpse into the life and mind of a climber who in 2017 succeeded in making the first ropeless ascent of Yosemite’s El Capitan.
9. Ruthless River: Love and Survival by Raft on the Amazon’s Relentless Madre de Dios, Holly FitzGerald, 2017
When a plane crash turns a honeymoon trip into a harrowing ordeal, a young couple is forced to fight for their lives.
10. The Push: A Climber’s Journey of Endurance, Risk, and Going Beyond Limits, Tommy Caldwell, 2017
From early childhood, through kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan, to the ascent of the Dawn Wall, Tommy Caldwell’s biography, is a candid and beautiful read.
11. In Extremis: The Life of War Correspondent Marie Colvin, Lindsey Hilsum, 2018
Veteran Sunday Times war correspondent Marie Colvin had a thirst for truth and an unparalleled writing style. Her biography brings to the fore a fascinating individual who had previously remained hidden behind her accounts dispatched from the world’s most dangerous conflict zones.
12. American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West, Nate Blakeslee, 2018
The White Fang of our times, American Wolf is a riveting account of the reintroduction of wolves into the Yellowstone National Park. Following the lives of animals and humans, we learn that today it is the wilderness that needs the most protection.