10 Books to Read if You’re in the Mood for a Real-Life Adventure…

1. Wind, Sand, and Stars – by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

wind sand and stars

One of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. Saint-Exupéry describes his adventures in the early days of aviation (think flying in pairs because it was so likely that one plane would break down, or sticking one’s head out of the cockpit to try to see well enough to navigate through bad weather) — and the language he uses rolls off the tongue like poetry.

2. West with the Night – by Beryl Markham

west with the night.jpg

A beautifully written memoir of Markham’s experiences growing up in early 20th century east Africa, and about her adventures as an aviator in the early days of the flight. Full of amazing moments and inspiring stories.

3. Unbroken – by Laura Hillenbrand


This story follows the life of Louis Zamperini as he trains for the Olympics, survives the crash of his Air Force bomber only to be stranded on a raft in the Pacific, and ultimately spends a long stint as a POW in a Japanese prison camp. There’s an intensity in the writing that drew me in and made this book a difficult one to put down.

4. Kon-Tiki – by Thor Heyerdahl

kon tiki

Thor Heyerdahl takes an anthropological hypothesis — could Polynesia have been peopled by explorers from pre-Colombian South American cultures? — and turns it into the adventure of a lifetime, building a raft from materials that would have been available to these pre-Colombian people groups, and sailing across the Pacific with nothing but the stars to guide him.

5. A Time of Gifts – by Patrick Leigh Fermor

a time of gifts

An 18-year-old from London decides to travel across Europe on foot, with the ultimate destination of Constantinople. It’s the 1930s, between the two world wars, and the adventures that come his way are intriguing and very different than those encountered by a European traveler today.

6. Going Solo – by Roald Dahl

going solo.jpg

If you only know Roald Dahl as the author of books like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach, you should definitely check out his autobiography about the time he spent working for Shell Oil Company in East Africa and his adventures as an RAF pilot during WWII. Full of exciting stories about venomous snakes and plane crashes and told in Dahl’s inimitable style, this book is difficult to put down.

7. The Places In Between – by Rory Stewart

the places in between.jpg

Rory Stewart, a journalist from Scotland, decides to traverse Afghanistan on foot, just months after the Taliban was deposed. This is the account of his adventures.

8. In the Heart of the Sea – by Nathaniel Philbrick

in the heart of the sea

A whaling ship gets rammed and destroyed by an angry whale. The crew members that remain are left adrift in the middle of the Pacific ocean, and must figure out a way to survive. Read more

9. Whatever You Do, Don’t Run – by Peter Allison

whatever you do

An Australian man takes a job as a safari guide in Botswana. This is the account of his many hilarious adventures with both the wildlife and the tourists he encounters. Read more

10. Endurance – by Alfred Lansing


Ernest Shackleton’s 1914 expedition to explore Antarctica turns into a near-impossible quest for survival. This gripping account of their plight is well worth the read.


21 thoughts on “10 Books to Read if You’re in the Mood for a Real-Life Adventure…

  1. Bri

    I actually liked In the Heart of the Sea a lot more than I thought I would. The only part I really skimmed was the beginning when the boats were described in a lot of detail. I’ll definitely be adding Wind, Sand, and Stars to my TBR now, Great List!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gwen

    I’m not an adventure person, really – I’ve had no interest in Unbroken even though everyone keeps talking about it – but this list actually makes me want to read every book on it. They all sound fascinating!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Aletha Cress Oglesby, M.D.

    This is one of my favorite genres . I read Kon Tiki many years ago. I have not read Unbroken but enjoyed the movie version by Angelina Jolie. The others sound intriguing. Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air about his Mount Everest expedition is also a classic adventure story.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. mommynificent

    These all look amazing to me and I can’t even pick the one I’d want to read first! I did notice several of them are about countries we’ll be studying soon in our homeschool. Do you think any of them would be appropriate for a 3rd or 6th grader? Thanks for being a part of the Booknificent Thursday reading community this week!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Beth Strickenburg

      I would think “Going Solo” would be appropriate for either the 3rd or 6th grader. And “Wind, Sand, and Stars,” “West With the Night,” and “Kon-Tiki” would likely work well for the 6th grader. The others are probably more appropriate for adults.


  5. Forever Joyful

    Unbroken is one of my all-time favorite books (and movies). I love hearing it promoted! Thanks for sharing about Dahl’s biography too. His medical inventions fascinate me! The one book on your list that I’ve read (part of) and can’t get into is Endurance. It seems like something I would like, but it’s just not! Thanks for sharing at the #LMMLinkup.

    Liked by 1 person

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