An adventure can be perilous, thrilling, audacious, and vivacious. It may involve extreme activities, travel, or skydiving.
But an adventure might also be reading an adventure book, watching a thrilling movie, or creating an interesting story.
We, therefore, dare you to read these 7 leading adventure novels of all time if you consider yourself to be a bohemian, nomad, or risk-taker.
The 7 Best Adventure Novels Ever
It’s difficult to forget the first adventure book you ever read since we all recall the first moment our imaginations were fired up by tales of hidden riches, undiscovered kingdoms, and exotic jungles.
Keep reading for 7 amazing adventure novels to reignite your love for the genre!
Herman Melville’s Moby Dick is a classic. The narrator, Ishmael, declares his intention to embark on a whaling ship.
He has traveled on numerous sailing trips, but never as a whaler. He makes his way to Massachusetts and stays at a whaler’s inn there.
He has to spend the night with Queequeg, a harpooner because the inn is quite full.
Ishmael is first repulsed by Queequeg’s unusual customs and frightening appearance, but over time he wins Ishmael’s respect and the two choose to look for employment on a whaling ship together.
They board a ferry and travel to Nantucket, which has long served as the whaling industry’s hub.
They reserve beds on the ship called the Pequod, a wild-appearing ship with sperm whale teeth and bones as decorations, there.
The Quaker owners of the Pequod, Peleg, and Bildad, haggle over wages. On a chilly Christmas Day, the Pequod departs Nantucket with a team of men from all nations and ethnicities.
The enigmatic captain, Ahab, makes his initial appearance on deck soon after the ship enters warmer waters, cautiously balancing on his artificial leg crafted from a sperm whale’s jaw.
He declares his intention to hunt down and slay Moby Dick, the storied big white whale who stole his leg, as he views the whale as the personification of evil.
Ahab fastens a golden doubloon to a mast and announces that the first person to see the whale will win it.
Whales are spotted as the Pequod travels towards the southernmost point of Africa, and they are unsuccessfully hunted.
A group of guys emerges from the hold during the hunt, none of whom the ship’s crew has ever seen before during the journey.
Fedallah, a strange-looking man, is the group’s leader. These men, who were brought onboard against the will of Bildad and Peleg, make up Ahab’s private harpoon crew.
Ahab is counting on their expertise and Fedallah’s prophecy to aid him in his search for Moby Dick.
- Explores deep themes such as obsession, revenge, and the search for meaning
- Provides a window into the world of whaling in the 19th century
- The novel is long and can be difficult to get through
Themes: Knowledge, free will, nature, fate
Odyssey is a 24-book epic poem that is generally credited to the historical ancient Greek poet Homer.
The poem tells the tale of Odysseus, ruler of Ithaca, who travels for ten years, but the action takes place mainly during the last six weeks of his attempt to return home following the Trojan War.
Only his devoted dog as well as a nurse recognise him upon his return.
Odysseus regains control of his realm with the aid of his son Telemachus by destroying the persistent suitors for his devoted wife Penelope and some of the maids who were friends with the suitors.
There is no chronological order in The Odyssey. Beginning at the midpoint of the story, the reader only has access to Odysseus’ narration of earlier events.
The first 4 books describe Ithaca’s setting. Odysseus’ wife Penelope and their infant son Telemachus are helpless in the face of her haughty suitors as they become impatient for Odysseus to return from the Troy siege.
Telemachus is looking for information on his father, who hasn’t been seen since embarking on a nearly 20-year war about 20 years prior.
He makes a covert trip to the Peloponnese where he meets Nestor and Menelaus, two warriors who fought alongside Odysseus at Troy, and learns that his father is still alive.
Odysseus, the primary character, is introduced in the second 4 books as he is being set free from captivity on the land of Ogygia by the nymph Calypso.
He had a shipwreck and washes ashore in the Phaeacian country of Scheria.
In Books IX through XII, Odysseus recounts to the Phaeacians the perilous voyage he and his crew underwent as they attempted to navigate their way home.
The second part of the poem, Books XIII–XXIV, concludes with Odysseus returning to Ithaca and encountering perilous situations.
Before devising a complex scheme to get rid of the suitors, he consults with his protector-goddess Athena, then exposes himself to her dedicated swineherd Eumaeus before doing the same to Telemachus.
These men had stayed at Odysseus’ home and were eating, drinking, and having a good time as they waited for Penelope to make a choice.
With the help of Telemachus and Philoetius, Odysseus murders them all in order to reconnect with his wife.
- Descriptions of the natural world, the gods, and the heroic characters are vivid and immersive
- Raises deep questions about the nature of humanity, the gods, and the universe
- Written in a style and language that can be difficult for modern readers to understand
Themes: Hospitality, loyalty, vengeance
Chris McCandless, a man who wandered far into the Alaskan tundra and whose emaciated corpse was discovered four months later, is the focus of Jon Krakauer’s book Into the Wild.
Chris McCandless ventured into the wilderness of Alaska by himself in April 1992.
In an effort to live an independent life, he had burned his wallet’s contents, donated his money to charity, sold his car and other belongings, and abandoned his home.
Four months after that, Chris was discovered dead. Jon Krakauer tells the story of the forest, its horrifying beauty as well as its relentless harshness, as he pieces together the final journeys of this incredible young man’s life.
A captivating examination of what motivates many of us to take risks that are greater than what we can bear to lose.
Anyone who has ever fantasized about venturing out into the harsh elements of nature should take a look at this riveting book.
- Multiple narratives create a rich and complex portrait of McCandless and his journey
- Raises important questions about the nature of freedom, the allure of the wilderness, and the role of society in shaping our lives.
- Some readers and critics have argued that Krakauer’s portrayal of McCandless is too sympathetic and that he overlooks some of the young man’s flaws and mistakes
Themes: Self-reinvention, wilderness, isolation
Young Jim Hawkins, the protagonist, assists his parents in managing a hotel close to Bristol, England.
Billy Bones “the captain,” a thug with a desperate appearance, shows up there and rents a room one day.
Billy has a stroke after being approached by Black Dog, a former friend. He informs Jim that he’s a pirate while sipping rum.
Later, Dr. Livesey’s care for Jim’s sick father results in his passing. A blind beggar then appears and gives Bones something. Pew departs, and Billy suffers a deadly stroke.
Opening Billy’s sea treasure, Jim and his mom take the money due to them along with a packet before running away.
Pew leads a bunch of pirates as they approach the inn, but they’re quickly scared away by the sound of coming horses, and Pew is crushed to death as a result.
Jim looks for Dr. Livesey, traveling with Squire Trelawny since he thinks the pirates are looking for the packet.
The three choose to embark on a voyage to Skeleton Island in search of the buried treasure after learning that the packet contains a treasure map.
Long John Silver, the head of the pirates, and some other former crew members are tricked into working for them.
Jim hears Silver and his crew discussing their plans to kill all the non-pirates and steal their money once it is discovered while on the journey.
The story that follows features mutiny, deceit, sword fights, and murders as they must rely on their wits to survive vicious foes.
- Fast-paced, filled with colorful characters, thrilling action, and moments of suspense and drama
- Filled with memorable characters, including the cunning Long John Silver and the mysterious Ben Gunn
- The use of dialect and archaic vocabulary can be a barrier for some readers
Themes: Adventure, self-discovery, coming of age
Outside Magazine commissioned author and mountaineer Jon Krakauer to write a piece about tourism on Mount Everest.
Krakauer makes the decision to ascend the mountain and joins the historically worst Everest expedition.
Krakauer joins the Rob Hall-led climbing company Adventure Consultants. The goal of the service is to hasten acclimatization and lead climbers safely to Mount Everest’s peak.
Krakauer describes his team members, his guides, and other mountain expeditions as he climbs.
He makes an effort to put together a consistent timeline of the happenings during the weeks they spend on the mountain.
Each of the clients struggles to acclimatize to the altitude and experiences fatigue, weight loss, and delayed movement.
The mountain climbers’ experiences vary; some are fairly qualified, while others are relatively inexperienced and heavily dependent on the guides.
Everything starts to go wrong during the summit push. Anyone who has not physically reached the peak by 2:00 PM, regardless of how near they are, must turn around.
Only Krakauer plus a few more climbers succeeded in reaching the summit before 2:00 pm that day.
The turnaround deadline is not enforced, so some of his group’s members arrive at the summit much later.
That afternoon, a storm approaches the top, but Krakauer only sees the last of it before making it to Camp Four’s trash.
While most of his companions are well behind Krakauer, he is unaware of what is waiting for them.
Twelve people pass away that season in total, and Krakauer, who had gone there to write about the business of escorting tourists up the mountain, is unable to forget what he saw there.
Krakauer conducted in-depth investigations and spoke with every victim to create this masterpiece.
According to him, the events that took place on the mountain should be described as accurately and completely as is humanly possible. He pondered what transpired and how it affected his life forever.
Krakauer addressed issues related to what happened on Everest that may not have solutions while also battling survivor’s guilt as well as a reframed perspective on mortality.
Krakauer expressed regret and accepted any hurt or resentment his book may have caused for the relatives and loved ones of the victims, but he remained diligent in recounting the truth of the events, whether they were brave, self-centered, or tragic.
- Raises important questions about the ethics of commercializing Everest and the risks associated with high-altitude mountaineering
- Explores themes such as ambition, courage, and the human spirit
- Some readers and critics have questioned Krakauer’s account of the events on Everest, particularly his portrayal of other climbers and guides
Themes: Trust, loyalty, adventure, survival
Colin Fletcher’s remarkable journey through the Grand Canyon by foot is chronicled in this book.
The Grand Canyon National Park’s full length has only been traveled by a few people, and even fewer have done it in a single trip. The first person to accomplish the latter was Colin Fletcher.
Fletcher, a self-described obsessive walker, started his epic hike through the Grand Canyon in June 1963.
The next two months saw people battling heat, cold, a shortage of water, and running out of food.
Despite the difficult physical conditions and nearly inaccessible terrain, Fletcher came away from the adventure with a fresh understanding of where people stand in the grand scheme of things.
- Descriptive and evocative provides a vivid and intimate portrait of the Grand Canyon and the challenges of hiking through it
- Some readers and critics have argued that Fletcher’s account of his hike is overly self-indulgent and lacks a strong narrative arc.
Themes: Adventure, knowledge, nature
One of the handfuls of non-fiction adventure books to receive the distinction of classic American fiction is this one.
Despite being prominently displayed on the bookcase next to colorful editions of Treasure Island, this book is one of those that is frequently left unread.
It’s a shame because the tale is fantastic and a must-read for all fans of the adventure genre.
The interesting account of Francis Parkman’s trip over the Great Plains throughout 1846 is told in The Oregon Trail.
Following a two-thousand-mile voyage on horseback with several companions, Parkman sets out from Westport, Missouri, by stagecoach, boat, and wagon.
The book has become recognized as a classic account of one man’s experience of the harsh American Wilderness since its release.
- Provides an important historical perspective on the westward expansion of the United States in the mid-19th century
- Some readers and critics have criticized Parkman’s portrayal of Native American cultures as exotic or primitive
Themes: Exploration, friendship, wilderness
How To Choose Adventure Novels
Choosing adventure novels can be a fun and exciting process. Here are some tips to help you select the right adventure novel for you:
Consider Your Interests
Think about the types of adventures that appeal to you. Do you like stories about explorers, treasure hunters, or survivalists?
Are you interested in stories that take place in specific settings, such as the wilderness, the ocean, or space?
Look For Recommendations
Ask friends, family members, or your local librarian for recommendations. You can also look for reviews online or on social media.
Read The Blurb
The blurb on the back of the book or the summary on the website can give you a good idea of what the book is about and whether it will interest you.
You are never too old for adventures, no matter your age! You now have a wide selection of wonderful options to start your trip into the amazing adventure genre if you’re searching for an action-packed escape thanks to this article on the finest contemporary and classic adventure novels for adults!
Frequently Asked Questions
What Makes A Great Adventure Novel?
A great adventure novel often features protagonists who are brave, resourceful, and determined.
Adventure novels often involve high-stakes situations where the protagonist’s life or the fate of the world is at risk.
- 20 Must-Read Genre-Blending Literary Fiction Books - May 26, 2023
- 32 Gripping Epic Fantasy Books To Transport You To Another World - May 26, 2023
- 12 Books Like Red, White, And Royal Blue You Will Love - May 17, 2023