Adventures are always an exciting experience for any person. They can be found in traditional outdoor activities like traveling or skydiving. Reading a thrilling adventure book is also a fantastic experience no matter if you are taken to the frozen hell of mountains, hunting for buried treasure, or exploring faraway jungles.
If you are seeking for this kind of adrenaline, BooKKooks offers a list of the best adventure books ever written. Expect to meet 100+ titles recommended and highly rated by literary critics and readers of all time. Let’s review the rank from more to less fascinating books.
Top 18 Famous Adventure Books from Best to Worst
Lord of the Flies: Best Adventure Book of All Time
This book was written in 1954 by the British author and Nobel Prize winner William Golding. It focuses on a group of schoolboys who appear being stranded on an uninhabited island after a plane crash. Far from civilization and without adult supervision, the boys try to forge their own society but fail in the face of sin, terror, and evil.
The author touches the themes of morality and immorality, rationality and emotions, and group and individual thinking. This popular reading in schools is also ranked as one of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005.
The novel has 3 film adaptations and has inspired a lot of musicians and writers.
- A must-read timeless classic
- A captivating and easy-to-read narration
- There are some episodes of racism in the book
- It may be horrifying for some readers
Into the Wild: Awesome Story About Wilderness
The book describes the adventures and mysterious death of the young man Christopher Johnson McCandless in search of transcendent experience encouraged by books of Henry David Thoreau and Jack London, who lived in the Victorian era.
The man gave his college fund to charity, abandoned his family and his possessions, and began traveling across the USA without maps and under a new name. He disappeared in the Alaskan wilderness and was found dead after 4 months. The author of the book Jon Krakauer suggests that death was caused by poisonous seeds of some edible plant.
The film adaptation based on the book was released in 2007 directed by Sean Penn.
- Shows an eternal desire of people to freedom
- You will never find yourself bored with the book
- Some readers don’t consider the protagonist a hero because of his sanity and impulsiveness
Hatchet: Good Survival Adventure Book
With more than 100 books in his collection, Gary Paulsen is considered one of the most honored writers for young readers.
This novel portrays a 13-year-old boy, a son of divorced parents, who plans to visit his father. The trip ends in a plane crash, and the boy is the only survivor. He is alone in the Canadian wilderness without anything except a hatchet, a present from his mother. Throughout the summer, he learns how to survive and deal with various threats of nature like wild animals and even a tornado.
The author continued the story of the boy with 4 more novels.
- An enjoyable and informative read for any child
- Available in an awesome audio version
- The story is not long
- Has an abrupt ending
The Road: Top Post Apocalyptic Adventure
The book is written by the American novelist and screenwriter Cormac McCarthy known for his unique writing style, recognizable by a lack of punctuation.
This is a post-apocalyptic novel about a father and his son walking through burnt America to the sea to find a better place for living, but they don’t know what awaits them at this destination. The things they have are a pistol to fight against lawless bands, their clothes, and a cart with scavenged food.
This story is about a journey with no hope. The only thing that keeps these people alive in this ultimate destructiveness is their love for each other.
- Shows strong bonds that unite the father and the son
- A heart-wrenching and impressive story
- May seem a dark and depressive read for some people
- Some readers find it annoying to read the text without punctuation (the author’s style)
The Old Man and the Sea Book
This short novel written by the American novelist Ernest Hemingway brought him the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and contributed to his Nobel Prize in the literature (1954) making the author a celebrity in one day.
The story tells about an aging and experienced fisherman who is unlucky for the last 80 days without catching a fish, but one day he struggles with a huge marlin far off the coast of Cuba.
This is a timeless classic for all ages, which has been adapted for the screen 3 times.
- The book about bravery, endurance, and friendship
- A happy and satisfying end
- A short and easy read
- Some readers find the plot trivial and boring
Watership Down: Stunning Animal Illustrations
Watership Down is a debut novel written by the English author Richard Adams. Initially, he told the story to his young daughters during a car journey and then decided to put it on paper.
The name of the book denotes a real place – a hill in Hampshire, close to the place where Adams was born.
The story revolves around a group of rabbits who escape the destruction of their home and seek a new place to establish their shelter. They face a lot of temptations and perils on their way to Watership Down.
The characters are anthropomorphized, possessing their own language, culture, mythology, and poetry.
- A kind and heart-touching story for young readers
- Awesome illustrations with some of them spreading across 2 pages
- Rather long
- There is a great number of characters that are impossible to remember
The Chronicles of Narnia: Nice Fantasy Adventure
This series of fantasy novels are written by the English author C. S. Lewis and is originally published between 1950 and 1956.
The action is set in the fantasy world of Narnia full of talking animals, mythical beasts, and magic. The protagonists are always children who are transported to this world by magic. The books narrate the whole history of Narnia from its creation to the eventual destruction.
In the post-WWII (World War II) era, those books had a great influence on fantasy literature. They are adapted for television, radio, and stage performance.
- One of the most popular books for adults and kids with more than 100 million copies sold
- Includes black-and-white art performed by the original illustrator Pauline Baynes
- The binding is glued
The Odyssey by Homer: Epic Adventure Book
The Odyssey is an epic tale written by Homer near the end of the 8th century B.C. It describes the Greek hero Odysseus, the King of Ithaca, and his journey home after the Trojan War. It takes him 10 years of sailing to reach Ithaca and meet his wife Penelope.
The book is written in a mixture of Ancient Greek dialects and comprises 12,110 lines. The image of the hero inspired numerous authors and composers to use it in their works. Most writers seek to imagine a new ending for the book.
- One of the earliest and greatest works of literature
- An unabridged edition with footnotes
- A necessary read to learn the history and understand western civilization
- The plot of the book is non-linear and not easy to understand
Ready Player One: Good Science Fiction with Adventures
Ready Player One is a debut science fiction novel from the American writer Ernest Cline. The action is set in the dystopian world in 2045 with the protagonist Wade Watts. In the very near future, the world will turn in a bleak place where OASIS is the only place that people like to visit. By plugging to this virtual reality world, most of the humanity find whatever they want.
The man dreams to find 3 keys in this game because the victory will allow him to inherit the fortune left by the eccentric game creator. He finds the first clue, but there are a lot of rivals ready to kill to take the prize.
- This thrilling narration has inspired Steven Spielberg to make a film adaptation
- Has a fantastic audio version narrated by Wil Wheaton
- Extremely interesting for people who are obsessed with the life and culture of the 1980s
- Too many explanations and expositions that make readers skip a few paragraphs
Life of Pi: Outstanding Adventure Fiction Book
The author of Life of Pi is Yann Martel, a Canadian writer born in Spain. This story is about the 16-year boy Piscine (Pi) Patel, a son of a zookeeper. When his family emigrates to North America, their ship sinks, and the boy leaves alone in a lifeboat with several animals, including a 450-lbs Bengal tiger.
He survives 227 days in the Pacific Ocean until rescued near the coast of Mexico. The tiger escapes to the jungle, and the local authorities don’t believe the boy’s fantastic deliverance.
The book was adapted for a film by the 4-Oscar winner, director Ang Lee.
- A deep and spiritual narration
- The chapters are short and easy to read
- The story is an example of indomitable spirit and human endurance
- The described facts are unrealistic
The Secret Lake: Great for Children
This story from Karen Inglis will be interesting for girls and boys aged 8-12. Trying to find a missing dog of their neighbor, two siblings Tom and Stella discover a time tunnel and a lake that takes them to this very place 100 years in the past.
In this world, they will have lots of mystery adventures, make friends (and enemies), and help a young boy who is in trouble.
- Focuses on justice, courage, and friendship
- Develops imagination
- Has random unexpected plot twists
- Seems ideal for younger kids than stated in the description
- The plot is similar to Tom’s Midnight Garden written by Philippa Pearce
The Great Adventure: Theodore Roosevelt and the Rise of Modern America
The author of the book is Albert Marrin, an American professor of history and an author of more than 40 non-fiction books for teenagers.
This time in the American Adventure series, he describes the life of a dominant political figure who has become a symbol of America. Teddy Roosevelt (as called by friends) is the first American who received a Nobel Prize. Highlighting his achievements that made Roosevelt an influential person and a hero of the country, the author shows his faults as well.
- Informative and interesting narration full of humor
- A very factual and detailed book for students’ projects
- The vocabulary is difficult for middle schoolers
- Includes a lot of facts and may seem a bit boring
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
This story is a memoir of Cheryl Strayed who lost her mother died of cancer and had her marriage destroyed at the age of 22. She started a 1,100-mile hike on her own on the Pacific Crest Trail, which lasts from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State.
Having no experience in long-distance hiking, the woman managed that adventure, which strengthened and completely healed her. She was ill-equipped but succeeded to survive among bears and rattlesnakes.
- A very honest memoir
- May help some lonely women overcome life obstacles
- The book is full of memorable characters
- The memoir has received some negative reviews from readers
- The life of the protagonist was quite immoral: spontaneous encounters with strange men, heroin, and others
The Sign of the Beaver: Cool for Young Adults
The Sign of the Beaver is written by the U.S. writer Elizabeth George Speare known for children’s books, and her works have become mandatory for reading in schools.
The book describes a 13-year-old boy left alone in his cabin home in the Maine Wilderness while his father transports the rest of the family to a new house. He befriends with a grandson of the Indian chief of the Beaver tribe. The boy discovers new facts in the relationships between Native Americans and new settlers and is even invited to join the tribe.
- Raises a lot of historical questions
- Teaches kids to respect other humans
- An easy read with a catching plot
- The critics have found some vocabulary mistakes in the book (the white boy uses modern slang in the 1700s and others)
The Martian: Awesome Space Adventure Book
This is the first novel of Andy Weir, a software engineer and an expert in relativistic physics and orbital mechanics, whose path to the world fame was unrepeatable. He self-published his book and earned millions on it.
In this novel, the author takes readers to Mars. One of the astronauts was presumed dead and left behind on this inhospitable planet. The man succeeds to survive on the Red Planet until the Earth sends a rescue mission. The smart protagonist improvises solutions and escapes danger.
- Brings a passion for science to readers
- Very entertaining and captivating
- All the details are scientifically accurate and have explanations
- Some critics say the book lacks humor
Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage
This is the best-known book written by Alfred Lansing named after the ship used by Sir Ernest Shackleton and his crew in their expedition to the South Pole in 1914.
The expedition failed after the ship had been trapped and crushed in the ice. This was a very detailed account of the voyage since the author spoke with all crew members and was granted access to personal diaries and journals.
The members of the expedition spent several months of drifting on ice packs with no food and medicines attacked by Antarctic sea leopards.
Spoiler: all the men got home safely.
- Thorough research of the expedition
- The story gives plenty of adrenaline
- Includes unique photographs, which the crew has miraculously protected from destruction
- Some readers think the book is drawn out and repetitive
A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail
The book is a modern classic of travel literature written by Bill Bryson. The author has spent 20 years in Britain, and when he is back in the States, he decides to walk the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail with a group of companions. He describes astonishing landscapes with awesome lakes and forests. Like a professional guide, he gives a lot of historical facts about these places. The author tells a lot of jokes and witty remarks.
- A funny and humorous narration
- It helps get a useful experience of how to identify plants, forage food, etc.
- Awesome descriptions of picturesque surroundings
- Some readers think the author sounds irritating, being smug, and superior, and constantly complains about his companions
Journey to the Center of the Earth: Top Book with Historical Review
This science fiction novel was written by Jules Verne in 1864. It narrates about the eccentric professor Lidenbrock who acquires an ancient book and finds a piece of parchment between the pages. He deciphers the text that leads him and his nephew Alex to an adventure.
The men believe there are volcanic tubes that go toward the core of the Earth. They descend into an extinct Icelandic volcano and discover an astonishing subterranean world with prehistoric animals.
The book has numerous film adaptations, animated television and radio serials, video and board game adaptations.
- The book is enormously influential in this genre
- This is a 1,000-copy limited collectors edition with 53 full-page illustrations
- The narration is fun, fast-paced, and interesting especially for boys
- The illustrations are a little dark
Additional Books About Adventures for Readers
This list features a broader selection of adventure novels with a synopsis of each masterpiece. The collection is suitable for any type of reader since it includes fantasy, romance, history, and books of other genres.
Here are unknown facts about some books offered above that will warm up your interest while choosing any to read.
- The real name of the author of The Road is Charlie McCarthy. He changed it to Cormac to avoid association with a dummy of the same name.
- Hemingway donated his Nobel Prize in the literature to the venerated Marian image of Our Lady of Charity in 1954. In 1986, the gold medal was stolen, but then returned upon the threat of the brother of Fidel Castro, Raul Castro.
- Watership Down written by Richard Adams was rejected 7 times by publishers. The only publisher who took the novel was Rex Collings. The associate of Collings called it a mad risk to publish a novel about rabbits with extra-sensory perception, but the book turned out to be a success.
- The name Narnia is actually the name of a little town in ancient Italy, Narni, located near Rome. On the map, it was written in Latin – Narnia. C.S. Lewis liked the sound of the word and used it in his fantasy series.
- Theodore Roosevelt was a war hero, a cowboy, a brilliant politician, and an explorer. In 1913, he set off a journey to the River of Doubt (afterward renamed as the Roosevelt River) in the Amazonian jungle, in Brazil. The former president nearly died during the expedition. He never fully recovered after the trip.
If you are a busy person with little free time, BooKKooks will save time on choosing a good adventure book and offer a selection of the best novels. To read a well-written novel and get lost in its marvelous world is a real pleasure that will remain in your memory for long. Today you are turning page after page, while someday you will find a true adventure in your life. Start with the top-selling books above and share your opinion about the favorites!