Classic Adventure Books


Flan­nel and beards have final­ly made a come­back, but it seems that good ol’ books are tak­ing a lit­tle longer. Everybody’s read Bill Bryson and Jon Krakauer, but some­body some­where inspired them to take notes and tell sto­ries about the road less traveled.

The Trav­els of Mar­co Polo, by Mar­co Polo
He trav­eled east from Venice through parts of the world then large­ly unknown to Euro­peans, was a guest in the court of Kublai Khan, gained and lost incred­i­ble trea­sures, fought in land and sea bat­tles, then dic­tat­ed his adven­tures to a cell­mate dur­ing his time as a pris­on­er of war before his release and return to “nor­mal” life.

The Man Who Would Be King, by Rud­yard Kipling
Two con­men set out from a news­pa­per office in India to con­quer Kafiris­tan. Escap­ing death and claim­ing armies along the way, they suc­ceed in their endeav­or but find that life at the top isn’t easy to maintain.

The Four Voy­ages, by Christo­pher Columbus
The Niña, The Pin­ta, & The San­ta María…we’ve all heard about those ships in 1492. What you’ll learn here is the sto­ry of a sea cap­tain devot­ed to spread­ing his reli­gion, hun­gry for the wealth of the New World, para­noid and excit­ed, fight­ing with his offi­cers, and explor­ing the Caribbean long before John­ny Depp arrived.

Around the World in 80 Days, by Jules Verne
Phileas Fogg and his ser­vant, using what­ev­er means avail­able to a gen­tle­man of the day, set out to cir­cum­nav­i­gate the globe in—you guessed it—80 days. Like prob­a­bly half of the great adven­tures ever under­tak­en, this one starts with an out­landish bet and a man bent on prov­ing himself.

On The Road, by Jack Kerouac
Sal Par­adise and friends bounce back and forth across the coun­try on a series of road and bus trips punc­tu­at­ed with sex, drugs, jazz, and a case of dysen­tery. This was the gen­er­a­tion before Val­ley Upris­ing start­ed and served as a cat­a­lyst for sev­er­al those char­ac­ters’ lifestyles.

The Odyssey, by Homer
Fol­low­ing the fall of Troy, Odysseus heads home to Itha­ca. It takes ten years. Suit­ors pur­sue his wife, his son’s guid­ed by Athena to find him, and that’s not even the adven­ture part. Odysseus and his men were attacked by pirates, blown off-course in a storm, drugged, cap­tured by a Cyclops, and cursed by Poseidon.

Moby Dick, by Her­man Melville
Hell-bent on revenge against a white whale who destroyed his ship, sev­ered his leg, and claimed his san­i­ty, Cap­tain Ahab sets sail with Ish­mael, the nar­ra­tor, and a Poly­ne­sian har­poon­er named Quee­queg. Their hunt takes them through the sev­en seas but ulti­mate­ly claims the lives of the crew.

Robin­son Cru­soe, by Daniel Defoe
Robin­son Cru­soe was a slave, cast­away, and slaver. Sur­viv­ing mul­ti­ple ship­wrecks, he spends 28 years on “The Island of Despair” fight­ing can­ni­bals, free­ing pris­on­ers, and con­ning pirates in an effort to return to Eng­land where he’s pre­sumed dead.

Tarzan of the Apes, by Edgar Rice Burroughs
The orphaned child of a marooned cou­ple is adopt­ed by an ape. If that’s not enough, he learns to hunt, avenges his ape-mom after she’s killed by a local tribe, and even­tu­al­ly inspires enough jeal­ousy in the alpha-male ape, Ker­chak, to cause a bat­tle to the death. Oh, there’s a love sto­ry in there, too.

The Rough Rid­ers, by Theodore Roosevelt
Ear­ly in the Span­ish-Amer­i­can War, a young Ted­dy Roo­sevelt left his post as Sec­re­tary of the Navy to join the Army as a Lt. Colonel over a mixed group of cow­boys, Ivy Lea­guers, and out­laws. They trained in the desert and even­tu­al­ly waged war in Cuba.