Have I read the best adventure books?

KeskusteluTravel and Exploration literature

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Have I read the best adventure books?

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Muokkaaja: marraskuu 19, 2009, 8:23pm

I've read some good ones, I think: http://www.librarything.com/catalog/deniro&tag=true%2Badventure

I've been re-reading some classics and have wondered if it's possible that I've read the best ones already. Something like Undaunted Courage, for example, though it won much praise, I simply can't put next to great ones like Alone and We Die Alone, which I have read multiple times and neither of which is depressing, despite their titles. I especially admire the one man against the elements aspect of these books. I am interested in survival and not another death on Everest story. I also like a polar/wintry setting though I don't insist on it. Great Heart comes to mind.

I wonder if anyone out there has an adventure classic that I've missed.

joulukuu 4, 2009, 10:57am

I am not sure if these two titles will fit your quest, because they are not polar/wintry setting, but... anyway:
Jungle: A Harrowing True Story of Survival by Yossi Ghinsberg and , Blood River : A Journey to Africa's Broken Heart by Tim Butcher

joulukuu 4, 2009, 2:52pm

I enjoyed River of Doubt - Teddy Roosevelt and son's journey along a tributary of the Amazon. Not polar, but interesting.

joulukuu 10, 2009, 6:20am

Probably you already know theese ones but , just in case...

Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors by Piers Paul Read

and the same story but seen from another prospective

Miracle in the Andes: 72 Days on the mountain and My Long Trek Home by Nando Parrado

joulukuu 18, 2009, 6:55pm

River of Doubt is good as was said. I dont know if you would call these classics but if you have never read INTO THE ABYSS: Explorers on the Edge of Survival. Mad White Giant, Into the Crocodile's Nest, Hunting the Gugu, and there are others he does with different authors as well. He is a man that has done some crazy things and usually always alone. He has had numerous tv shows on he recorded himself kind of like Les Stroud does on Survivorman but its a whole expedition. Also he was on a History Channel show called Expedition Africa. Just a suggestion. I like reading his stuff a lot.

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 3, 2011, 8:45am

I have looked at the 50 books shown by your url in #1 and do not find what I thought was a riveting account:

4072. Between a Rock and a Hard Place, by Aron Ralston (read 16 Sep 2005)

I suppose you have read it, but it was not listed so in case you haven't you might consider looking at it.

lokakuu 2, 2011, 12:30pm

> 1
I looked at your list of books and asked myself why had you chosen them. I have read 2 of your fifty, The White Nile and Seven Years in Tibet but reading them led me to other books about or connected to that place that I may not have read otherwise. Because I have traveled across Africa I read The Blue Nile, Journey to the source of the Nile. When ever I see books on Africa I have to look at then and in most cases read them, fiction and non-fiction, because of my interest in and having traveled in Africa.

When I was a child I remember hearing a radio news report of a young boy escaping from Tibet. I was intrigued by this and that eventually led me to read Seven Years in Tibet. From there I read of his return to Tibet, books written by the Dali Lama and members of his family.

I live beside a river and this has led me to read books about rivers, travels on rivers, countries through which the rivers flow.

I have read over 130 literary travel books and countless other fiction and non-fiction that were influenced by those travel books. My passion are mysteries and even they have some times been influenced by the travel books I read.

Why is a book touted as a classic? You, the reader, make your own decisions about the books you are read, are they good, bad or indifferent? Are any in the good section classics in your mind? Follow your own interests and you may find some classics of your own.

I think I got a little carried away as my short note is not short...

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 6, 2011, 2:21pm

By "classic" do you mean there's a cutoff date for your purposes, deniro? I'm thinking again of Eric Hansen's Stranger in the Forest: On Foot Across Borneo which has all the earmarks of a Victorian exploration classic but was written in the '80's (1980's). Planning a trip to Borneo on my own I picked it up at the library thinking "well here's another "guy" exploits book" and found it was anything but limited, from my perspective, in that way. It has it all.

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 6, 2011, 1:00pm

Well, I don't want to get into what makes a classic, but no, I had no cutoff date in mind. In fact, the recent book Unbroken, which I haven't read, may even classify.

I belonged to a book club called The Adventure Library, now defunct, which was dedicated to releasing the classics of exploration and survival in high quality volumes. So if you check my list, that's where most of those books came from.

lokakuu 6, 2011, 2:20pm

Please do get into what makes a classic. I, and I'm sure others, would be interested in your thoughts. Or is there an accepted definition?

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 8, 2011, 2:23pm

>10 joannay:

Do I detect some condescension in your comment?

To me, most of the titles published by the The Narrative Press are classics.

Then, there's the familiar term "instant classic". So, something from the 80's, especially a travel or adventure narrative could be a classic. Classic might also mean somewhat well-known. I enjoy obscure travel narratives (and there are many out there), but I'm not sure anyone would call them classics. Chappe d'Auteroche, Auguste Guinnard, George Kennan, Matilda Betham-Edwards, Frederick Gustavus Burnaby, etc.

I don't know, Junger is a great journalist. I can't exactly say he wrote a "classic".

Say travel literature, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, perhaps not the most adventurous, but a classic nonetheless.

lokakuu 6, 2011, 4:50pm

>11 DanMat:

DanMat, no, not at all, the difficulty with the conversational written word, no inflection. The comment was absolutely sincere. I AM interested in what defines "classic". I work in a library and such definitions or distinctions are useful and above all interesting to me. Does the term require distance (time) to credibly make the distinction?

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 8, 2011, 2:30pm

Oh, good. I think trying to make distinctions is a worthwhile activity, even if it tends toward personal bias. What else does one do when they finish a book besides analyze and assess its merits?

I think deniro has a few on that list that are the classics of the genre. I occasionally dip but am not conversant enough to make serious judgement.

Regarding the time of composition, I think there's more leeway than with literature. There are areas of the world that have changed remarkably within the last 20 years. Perhaps a work has captured a city, a people, an event that is unique or transient. The Great Railway Bazaar, written in 1975 and could be--or perhaps is--a classic.

But again, maybe there should be some distinction made between travel writing and adventure writing. A travel writer might be better trained in the art of composition but more prone to intellectualize during the physical process. An adventure writer might be more exciting, more willing to take risks or place themselves in situations a person of letters might not.

For travel literature, roughly, from my knowledge:
Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes & An Inland Voyage
The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides
Travels through France and Italy
A tour through the whole island of Great Britain
Pictures from Italy & American Notes for General Circulation
The Persian Expedition (not sure if this really falls under travel or adventure)
Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al-Madinah and Meccah (or half a dozen other works by Burton, might be more adventure than travel depending)
Typee (though, there are a lot of fictional constructs and asides)

That's why I tend to favor obscurer accounts. You seem to get an even blend of writer and adventurer. Also, some of the areas are very much off the beaten path and/or no longer exist today.

There are many interesting things compiled in The Principal Navigations Voyages Traffiques & Discoveries of the English Nation which is a collection of accounts made by navigators, sailors, etc.

And The Travels of Sir John Mandeville...da Vinci owned a copy!

lokakuu 11, 2011, 4:40pm

This may be a bit far out, but for pure adventure and guts I think the first of the great American travel writers still holds up more than well. I'm talking about John Lloyd Stephens. Cosimo Classics has reprints available. I'm currently reading Incidents of Travel in Egypt, Arabia Petraea and the Holy Land. Also available are Incidents of Travel in Greece, Turkey, Russia, and Poland as well as his Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan and Incidents of Travel in Yucatan. This is the first of the famous travel writers in the U.S.A. One wonders why the Library of America has neglected him.

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 11, 2011, 8:19pm

Yeah, America travel narratives are wonderful. Xerox sponsored a series 40 years ago in conjunction with UMI called the making of america series. All in a light blue buckhram. I read the Bark covered house by Nowlin last fall. There about 100 of them. Any large university or college should have most of them. Of course most concern travel and life in the US.

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 12, 2011, 11:34am

I would make a distinction between adventure and travel. Probably I posted in the wrong group, as this group is for travel and exploration.

To quote one British wit: Adventure is what happens when things go wrong.

On my shelf, adventure would also include escape and survival. Travel narratives, for the sake of travel, generally don't interest me. Obviously, one needs to make room for overlap and loose terminology. But I doubt any of the books listed in 13 would interest me.

Recent books that have caught my attention but which I haven't read include Unbroken and River of Doubt.

lokakuu 14, 2011, 12:22pm

That's a pretty good list. Thanks for sharing.

lokakuu 14, 2011, 12:32pm

"Unbroken" is a book I could not put down. I didn't expect to like it since I have never stayed with books written by soldiers in World War II....i.e. Audy Murphy etc. But this story grabbed me and sustained my interest. since it was the story of a local southern California hero, Louie Zamperini, it made even more compelling a read.

lokakuu 14, 2011, 2:26pm

Yes, that is the list! Well done.

lokakuu 16, 2011, 11:33am

About to start reading Rinker Buck's memoir about his 1966 teenage Flight of Passage in a Piper Cub from New Jersey to California. Looks like a great adventure ahead!

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 16, 2011, 12:53pm

Also check out Darf Publishers.


Website isn't much, but check out their catalogue, especially Travel - North Africa, and Travel - Various sections. Facsimile reprints of the original books, even if you end up grabbing the book free from google, theres some good ideas for titles here that you may not have heard of. Some definitely qualify as adventure.

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 17, 2011, 5:07pm

Great list (#17 above) and pleased to see Eric Hansen among them.

syyskuu 15, 2013, 7:46am

If it's not on your list yet, I would recommend this historical fiction "survival" book: Arundel by Kenneth Roberts. Once you have pictured northern Maine in the dead of winter or in black fly season, you will never forget this book.

joulukuu 9, 2013, 10:40am

I enjoy reading Antarctic exploration history and would highly recommend such titles as Endurance, by Lansing; Home of the Blizzard, by Douglas Mawson; Scott's Last Expedition; and The Worst Journey in The World, by Appsley Cherry-Garrard, just to name a few. Also on the topic of survival, I would suggest Touching the Void by Joe Simpson, an amazing mountaineering epic.