Explore Your World

Did you ever wish you could explore the remote areas of the world? Through the books on this list, based on National Geographic Adventure Magazine's list of the 100 Greatest Adventure Books of All Time, you can go west with Lewis and Clark, cross the pacific by raft with Thor Heyerdahl, and climb Annapurna with 13 women. These stories and more make up some of the greatest true adventures ever told.

 
Apsley Cherry-Garrard. The Worst Journey in the World
In 1910, Robert Falcon Scott hoped to be the first Englishman to reach the South Pole. This gripping story of courage and achievement recounts Scott's last fateful expedition, as told by a surviving expedition member. [Audio]
Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. Journals
At the dawn of the 19th century, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark embarked on an unprecedented journey from St. Louis, Missouri to the Pacific Ocean and back again. Their assignment was to explore the newly acquired Louisiana Territory and record the geography, flora, fauna, and people they encountered along the way. The tale of their incredible journey, meticulously recorded in their journals, has become an American classic.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Wind, Sand & Stars
Captures the grandeur, danger, and isolation of flight. Its exciting account of air adventure, combined with lyrical prose and the spirit of a philosopher, makes it one of the most popular works ever written about flying.
John Wesley Powell. Exploration of the Colorado River
Powell’s first-person account of his crew’s unprecedented odyssey along the Green and Colorado Rivers and through the Grand Canyon. A bold foray into the heart of the American West’s final frontier, the expedition was achieved without benefit of modern river-running equipment, supplies, or a firm sense of the region’s perilous topography and the attitudes of the native inhabitants towards whites.
Wilfred Thesiger. Arabian Sands
Thesiger recounts his adventures exploring the Arabian desert for five years in the mid-twentieth century.
Edward Abbey. Desert Solitaire
With language as colorful as a Canyonlands sunset and a perspective as pointed as a prickly pear, Cactus Ed captures the heat, mystery, and surprising bounty of desert life. Desert Solitaire is a meditation on the stark landscapes of the red-rock West, a passionate vote for wilderness, and a howling lament for the commercialization of the American outback.
Beryl Markham. West With the Night
Autobiography of the first woman to fly the Atlantic solo from east to west. But it is much more than a story of aviation, revealing a poet's feeling for the land, an adventurer's engagement with life, and a philosopher's insights into the human condition.
Jon Krakauer. Into Thin Air
The story of the headline-making and worst disaster on Mt. Everest, that took the life of eight climbers, including seasoned guides, Scott Fischer and Rob Hall.
Marco Polo. Travels
Marco Polo was the most famous traveller of his time. His voyages began in 1271 with a visit to China, after which he served the Kubilai Khan on numerous diplomatic missions. On his return to the West he was made a prisoner of war and met Rustichello of Pisa, with whom he collaborated on this book. The accounts of his travels provide a fascinating glimpse of the different societies he encountered.
Fridtjof Nansen. Farthest North
This brilliant first-person account, originally published in 1897, marks the beginning of the modern age of exploration, vividly describing Nansen's dangerous voyage and his 15-month-long dash to the North Pole by sled.
Peter Matthiessen. The Snow Leopard
When Matthiessen went to Nepal to study the Himalayan blue sheep and , possibly, to glimpse the rare and beautiful snow leopard, he undertook his five-week trek as winter snows were sweeping into the high passes. This is a radiant and deeply moving account of a "true pilgrimage, a journey of the heart".
Mark Twain. Roughing It
A fictionalized account of Twain's travels all over the American West and Hawaii in the 1860's.
Richard Henry Dana. Two Years Before the Mast
Dana's account of his passage as a common seaman from Boston around Cape Horn to California, and back, is a remarkable portrait of the seagoing life: the day-to-day routines and conversations, the sailors who manned the ship, the brutality of incompetent officers, and the style of life in the newly emerging coastal towns of California.
Ernest Shackleton. South
In 1914, as the shadow of war falls across Europe, a party led by veteran explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton sets out to become the first to traverse the Antarctic continent. Their initial optimism is short-lived, however, as the ice field slowly thickens, encasing the ship Endurance in a death-grip, crushing their craft, and marooning 28 men on a ploar ice floe. In an epic struggle of man versus the elements, Shackleton leads his team on a harrowing quest for survival over some of the most unforgiving terrain in the world.
Eric Newby. A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush
This frank and funny account of an ill-prepared Himalayan expedition, taking the reader from London to the wilds of Afghanistan, is one of the classics of travel writing.
Thor Heyerdahl. Kon-Tiki
The record of an astonishing adventure -- a journey of 4,300 nautical miles across the Pacific Ocean by raft. Intrigued by Polynesian folklore, biologist Thor Heyerdahl suspected that the South Sea Islands had been settled by an ancient race from thousands of miles to the east, led by a mythical hero, Kon-Tiki. He decided to prove his theory by duplicating the legendary voyage.
 
Mary Kingsley. Travels in West Africa
Until 1893, Mary Kingsley led a secluded life in Victorian England. But at age 30, defying every convention of womanhood of the time, she left England for West Africa to collect botanical specimens for a book left unfinished by her father at his death. Traveling through western and equatorial Africa and becoming the first European to enter some parts of Gabon, Kingsley’s story—as an explorer and as a woman—would become an enduring tale of adventure. [Web site]
Charles Lindbergh. The Spirit of St. Louis
Lindbergh takes the reader on an extraordinary journey, bringing to life the thrill and peril of trans-Atlantic travel in a single-engine plane. Eloquently told and sweeping in its scope, Lindbergh's Pulitzer Prize-winning account is an epic adventure tale for all time.
Heinrich Harrer. Seven Years in Tibet
In this vivid memoir, Heinrich Harrer recounts his adventures as one of the first Europeans ever to enter Tibet.
 
Douglas Mawson. Home of the Blizzard
A tale of discovery and adventure in the Antarctic--of pioneering deeds, great courage, heart-stopping rescues, and heroic perseverance. This is Douglas Mawson's first-hand account of his years spent in sub-zero temperatures and gale-force winds. At the heart of the story is Mawson’s epic sledge journey in 1912-13 during which his companions Ninnis and Mertz both perished. [Website]
Charles Darwin. The Voyage of the Beagle
When the Beagle sailed out of Devonport on 27 December 1831, Charles Darwin was twenty-two and setting off on the voyage of a lifetime. His journal shows a naturalist making patient observations concerning geology and natural history, as well as people, places and events. The insights made on the five-year voyage were to set in motion the intellectual currents that led to the most controversial book of the Victorian age: The Origin of Species.
T.E. Lawrence. The Seven Pillars of Wisdom
The monumental work that assured T.E. Lawrence's place in history as "Lawrence of Arabia." Not only a consummate military history, but also a colorful epic and a lyrical exploration of the mind of a great man who helped shape the Middle East as it exists today.
 
Mungo Park. Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa
Park's account of his first expedition to discover the River Niger and the fabled city of Timbuctoo. Travelling with only native guides, or for the latter part of his journey alone, Park endured tremendous hardships.
Tom Wolfe. The Right Stuff
The first Americans in space--Yeager, Conrad, Grissom, and Glenn--battle the Russians for control of the heavens and put their lives on the line to demonstrate a quality beyond courage.
 
Joshua Slocum. Sailing Alone Around the World
The classic travel narrative of a Don Quixote-of-the-seas-the first person to circumnavigate the world singlehandedly. [Website]
 
Richard Burton. First Footsteps in East Africa
One of the great adventure classics. Victorian scholar-adventurer’s firsthand epic account of daring 1854 expedition to forbidden East African capital city. A treasury of detailed information on Muslim beliefs, manners and morals; plus pleasures and perils of the desert. A wealth of geographic, ethnographic and linguistic data. [Website]
Sebastian Junger. The Perfect Storm
A book taut with the fury of the elements which depicts the courage, terror, and awe which the men of the fishing vessel "Andrea Gail" faced as they were caught in the grip of a savage force of nature.
Francis Parkman. The Oregon Trail
Parkman laconically narrates his series of misadventures involving Indians, buffalo, and bad weather in this account of his long journey from St. Louis to the wild west and back, beginning in spring of 1846.
Isabella L. Bird. A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains
The watershed year of Isabella Lucy Bird's life was 1873. In autumn of that year, the forty-one-year-old English gentlewoman embarked by rail from San Francisco's east bay, bound for the Colorado Rockies. A challenging journey, it drove Bird to the utmost physical effort & initiated her lifelong career in what today is called adventure travel. [eBook]
F.A. Worsley. Endurance
First published in 1931, this is the legendary tale of Ernest Shackleton's grueling Antarctic expedition, recounted in riveting first-person detail by the captain of the HMS "Endurance."
Isak Dinesen. Out of Africa
In this book, the author gives a true account of her life on her plantation in Kenya. She tells with classic simplicity of the ways of the country and the natives.
 
Robert Falcon Scott. Scott's Last Expedition: The Journals
The explorer's detailed account of his time in Antarctica. [Website]
 
John Muir. My First Summer in the Sierra
The naturalist's account of his first visit to the High Sierra and the Yosemite. There he recognized his life's calling: to preserve wilderness areas. Muir's extraordinary memoir vividly communicates the excitement and reverence he felt at discovering the spectacular natural world of the Sierra. [Website]
Francis Chichester. Gipsy Moth Circles the World
When 65-year-old Francis Chichester set sail on his solitary eastward journey around the world in 1966, many believed he wouldn't return alive. But when the old man returned nine months later, he had made history's fastest circumnavigation.
Richard Byrd. Alone
Already famous for his flights over the North and South Poles, Admiral Richard E. Byrd set out in 1934 on what would become his most harrowing adventure. Isolated in the polar night with no hope of rescue until spring, Byrd began suffering inexplicable symptoms of mental and physical illness. Alone is the remarkable story of his struggle to save his life and his sanity.
 
Eric Hansen. Stranger in the Forest
Eric Hansen was the first westerner ever to walk across the island of Borneo. Completely cut off from the outside world for seven months, he traveled nearly 1,500 miles with small bands of nomadic hunters known as Penan. Beneath the rain forest canopy, they trekked through a hauntingly beautiful jungle where snakes and frogs fly, pigs climb trees, giant carnivorous plants eat mice, and mushrooms glow at night.
 
Richard Halliburton. The Royal Road to Romance
Chronicles the author's choice of adventure over career after graduating from college in the early 1900s, and includes his recollections of a breakthrough ascent of the Matterhorn to being jailed on Gibraltar for taking forbidden photos.
 
Clarence King. Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada
Describes the perils and pleasures experienced by Clarence King while conducting the first geological survey of California in the 1860s. [eBook]
Alexandra David-Neel. My Journey to Lhasa
In 1923 a stout fifty-five-year-old Frenchwoman named Madame Alexandra David-Neel, a former opera singer and a dedicated student of the East, disguised herself as a male pilgrim and ascended to the ancient Tibetan city of Lhasa.
Joe Kane. Running the Amazon
The voyage began in the lunar terrain of the Peruvian Andes, where coca leaf is the only remedy against altitude sickness. It continued down rapids so fierce they could swallow a raft in a split second. It ended six months and 4,200 miles later, where the Amazon runs gently into the Atlantic. Joe Kane's personal account of the first expedition to travel the entirety of the world's longest river is a riveting adventure in the tradition of Joseph Conrad, filled with death-defying encounters.
Piers Paul Read. Alive
The dramatic tale of the Uruguayan rugby team, whose plane crashed in the Andes, trapping the survivors for 70 days.
 
Richard Hakluyt. Principall Navigations
A collection of English exploration and adventure stories compiled by Hakluyt in the 16th century. [Web Site]
Owen Chase. Shipwreck of the Whaleship Essex
Melville's famous description of the sinking of the Pequod by the white whale -- one of the most exciting moments in American literature -- was based on a true story documented in 1821 by first mate Owen Chase in his Narrative of the Most Extraordinary and Distressing Shipwreck of the Whaleship Essex, and by his shipmate and captain in two separate accounts.Each account tells of a sperm whale's attack on the Essex in the South Seas, and of the crew's three-month struggle while stranded in small open boats.
 
George Frederick Ruxton. Life in the Far West
Recounts the story of mountain men in far western American of the 1840s. [eBook]
Arlene Blum. Annapurna: A Woman's Place
An acccount of the 1978 climb, by 13 women, of Annapurna I in the Nepal Himalaya, the 10th highest mountain in the world.
William Bligh. Mutiny on the Bounty
The names William Bligh, Fletcher Christian, and the Bounty have excited the popular imagination for more than two hundred years. The story of this famous mutiny has many beginnings and many endings but they all intersect on an April morning in 1789 near the island known today as Tonga. That morning, William Bligh and eighteen surly seamen were expelled from the Bounty and began what would be the greatest open-boat voyage in history, sailing some 4,000 miles to safety in Timor. The mutineers led by Fletcher Christian sailed off into a mystery that has never been entirely resolved.
Steven Callahan. Adrift
In some ways the model for the new wave of adventure books, Adrift is an undeniable seafaring classic, a riveting firsthand account by the only man known to have survived more than a month alone at sea, fighting for his life in an inflatable raft after his small sloop capsized only six days out.
Joe Simpson. Touching the Void
Joe Simpson and his climbing partner, Simon Yates, had just reached the top of a 21,000-foot peak in the Andes when disaster struck. Simpson plunged off the vertical face of an ice ledge, breaking his leg.   After failing to lower Simpson to safety, Yates had to cut him loose and returned to base camp.  Miraculously, Simpson survived, albeit with severe frostbite and other injuries.
 
Washington Irving. The Adventures of Captain Bonneville
Captain Benjamin L. E. Bonneville left the east for California in May of 1832. No one heard from him, and many people assumed he was dead (or AWOL). Three years later he returned. Washington Irving met Bonneville, bought the rights to his journal, and after editing it and recasting it in the third person, published it.
Tim Cahill. Jaguars Ripped My Flesh
An exhilarating--and frequently hilarious--collection of adventure travel writing.
Osborne Russell. Journal of a Trapper
In the mid-1800's Russell joined an expedition headed through the Rocky Mountains. Along the way he acquired the skills necessary for survival in the mountains, and kept a journal that forms the basis of this vigorously authentic book.
 
Dervla Murphy. Full Tilt
A diary, by Irish travel writer Murphy, of her bicycle trek from Dunkirk to India. [Audio]
Sara Wheeler. Terra Incognita
Sara Wheeler spent seven months in Antarctica, living with its scientists and dreamers. No book is more true to the spirit of that continent--beguiling, enchanted and vast beyond the furthest reaches of our imagination.
David Howarth. We Die Alone
One of the most exciting escape narratives to emerge from the challenges and miseries of World War II chronicles Jan Baalsrud¿s escape from Nazi-occupied arctic Norway.
Gontran de Poncins. Kabloona
In this classic of adventure, travel, anthropology, and spiritual awakening, de Poncins is a French nobleman who spent fifteen months in 1938 and 1939 living among the Inuit people of the Arctic.
Michael Collins. Carrying the Fire
NASA astronaut Michael Collins was the first man to walk in space and also piloted the first manned craft to land on the moon.
Freya Stark. The Valleys of the Assassins
The book chronicles Stark's, early 20th century, travels into Luristan, the mountainous terrain nestled between Iraq and present-day Iran, often with only a single guide and on a shoestring budget.
 
Doug Peacock. Grizzly Years
For nearly twenty years, alone and unarmed, author Doug Peacock traversed the rugged mountains of Montana and Wyoming tracking the magnificent grizzly. His thrilling narrative takes us into the bear's habitat, where we observe directly this majestic animal's behavior, from hunting strategies, mating patterns, and denning habits to social hierarchy and methods of communication. As Peacock tracks the bears, his story turns into a thrilling narrative about the breaking down of suspicion between man and beast in the wild.