Adventure fiction has a long and varied history, spanning from the first written stories in Ancient Greece to modern day. Whether you are looking for action-packed thrillers with dramatic twists or gripping adventure tales that take place on far off worlds, these 50 books will satisfy your craving for an adrenaline rush.
These are the 50 best fiction adventure books that you should definitely give a read. Read more in detail here: best adventure fiction books.
A good adventure story calls to man’s heart like nothing else. The adventure narrative is one kind of literature that remains with you for a lifetime, whether it’s a bedtime story given to young boys or a nail-biting page-turner that keeps you up at night. The very mention of such books conjures up ideas of hidden wealth deep in the jungle of a desolate island, guarded by ruthless pirates and the indigenous cannibal population. Perhaps the vision of a forgotten planet comes to mind instead, replete with lost civilisation and horrific animals from a bygone period.
There are certain tales that we can all connect to, no matter what our particular adventurous fantasies are. Here are fifty adventure books that no man should live a lifetime without reading, in no particular sequence. This is not intended to be a comprehensive list of all excellent adventure books, so please use the comments area to tell us about any adventure novels you think your fellow guys should read. Also, keep an eye out for the second installment of this series, The Essential Man’s Library: 50 Nonfiction Adventure Books Edition, which will be released soon.
Now it’s time to enter the realm of great adventure….
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Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet
Hatchet is a survival story about a young boy named Brian who is stuck in the Canadian wilderness when his aircraft crashes. Brian’s resolve to life is put to the test as he is forced to survive with minimal food or equipment.
Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island
Stevenson’s masterwork and perhaps the most well-known adventure book. Young Jim Hawkins, the son of an innkeeper, is plunged into the world of piracy when he joins Long John Silver in the quest for hidden riches.
Johann David Wyss’ Swiss Family Robinson
A family is stranded on a desert island as a consequence of a terrible shipwreck and must rely only on natural resources to live. They eventually manage to construct an incredible complex inside which they may live comfortably in their forest environment.
Rudyard Kipling’s Captains Courageous
Follow Harvey Cheyne, the son of a railroad magnate, as he is tossed overboard on a steamship cruise, only to be rescued by fisherman who transform him into a genuine seafarer.
H. Rider Haggard’s She
A college professor and his young apprentice follow directions on a shattered pottery shard to a famous lost city in the African jungles, where they meet She Who Must Be Obeyed, the land’s supposedly eternal queen.
H. Rider Haggard’s Ayesha: The Return of She
This story continues the same characters as they journey to the remote corners of the earth in search of a reincarnation of She Who Must Be Obeyed sixteen years after the events of She.
H. Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines
Allan Quatermain, an adventurer, is conscripted into a search and rescue mission that takes them into the wide unknown of undiscovered Africa, where whole civilizations are unearthed and legends of the location of King Solomon’s mines lead the crew on one of the greatest adventures in fiction.
We came out of the dark and are returning to it. We soar out of the Nowhere like a storm-driven bird at night; for a little minute, our wings are visible in the light of the fire, and then we’re gone again into the Nowhere.
Antoine de Saint-Southern Exupery’s Mail/Night Flight
This book is a two-for-one offer that tells the story of the early postal pilots as narrated by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of Wind, Sand, and Stars and himself an experienced flyer.
Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World
This timeless masterpiece by Arthur Conan Doyle sparked the Lost World genre and captured the imagination of many young boys. Professor Challenger, the protagonist, is a tour guide on an unexplored plateau in South America, full of dinosaurs and other strange creatures that time seems to have forgotten.
Rudyard Kipling’s The Man Who Would Be King
The renowned short tale by Rudyard Kipling about two traveling British adventurers who become rulers of Kafiristan, only to endure a dramatic fall from power.
Jules Verne’s The Adventures of Captain Hatteras
Captain Hatteras assembles a crew with the intention of reaching the North Pole in this, one of Verne’s lesser-known novels. Willpower is challenged along the route as they confront sub-zero temperatures and the possibility of famine, and the soldiers finally begin to mutter about rebellion. The novel is jam-packed with classic adventure from beginning to end, as is typical of Verne’s writing.
Emilio Salgari’s The Tigers of Mompracem
This is the first book in Italian author Emilio Salgari’s acclaimed Sandokan series, which follows the pirate Sandokan, also known as the Tiger of Malaysia, on his high-seas adventures.
Emilio Salgari’s The Pirates of Malaysia
This is the sequel to The Tigers of Mompracem, and it’s just as action-packed as the original. Follow Sandokan, the infamous pirate, as he meets his most difficult task yet.
Emilio Salgari’s The Two Tigers
In this, the last installment of the Sandokan series to be translated into English, watch as Sandokan takes on the Thuggee cult, a real-life group immortalized in the film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
Michael Crichton’s Congo
Follow an expedition into the Congo that is half rescue mission, part treasure hunt as the crew seeks for missing friends and locates a diamond mine that may contain the diamond required to finish their ambitious study. When the previous crew is assaulted by man-eating gorillas in the area, the fate of the previous squad is revealed. The novel is much superior than the film that was based on it.
Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park
Join a group of scientists in the ultimate island amusement park, John Hammond’s “biological preserve” known as Jurassic Park, where Hammond’s scientists have genetically produced dinosaurs to walk the world once more. When corporate sabotage causes a power outage, the electrical barriers that keep the dinosaurs isolated from the park guests become much less effective.
Michael Crichton’s novel The Lost World
Join Ian Malcolm, who was thought to be dead after the events of Jurassic Park, as he is dragged back into the company of monsters, this time on his own rescue mission. Instead of Isla Nublar, Malcolm must journey to Isla Sorna, often known as Site B, where dinosaurs roam free.
Homer’s Odyssey is a Greek epic poem.
One of the earliest major adventure tales is Homer’s epic poem, which serves as a continuation of The Iliad’s events. Odysseus starts his trip home to Ithaca after the destruction of Troy, but is stopped when an enraged Poseidon tosses him off course, setting in motion a timeless adventure that is as wonderful today as it was over 3000 years ago.
J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit
Explore the shire with a young Bilbo Baggins as he discovers a world few hobbits will ever see, all while being pursued by the mysterious Gollum, from whom Bilbo had taken the enigmatic Ring of Power. Bilbo’s bravery and ingenuity are put to the test as he tries to free a fearsome dragon from his treasure trove.
I’m from beneath the hill, and my travels took me under the hills and over the hills. As well as via the air. I am he who goes unnoticed. I’m the stinging fly, the web-cutter, and the clue-finder. The fortunate number was assigned to me. I am he who burys his pals alive, drowns them, and then resurrects them from the river. I arrived from the bag’s end, but there was no bag that went over me. I am a bear’s buddy and an eagle’s visitor. I’m a Barrel-rider, a Ring-winner, and a Luckwearer.
J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series
This, J. R. R. Tolkien’s masterwork, need little introduction. The peoples, locations, and languages of Middle Earth, which are painted with such delicate strokes that they might easily be mistaken for actual people, demonstrate Tolkien’s amazing attention to detail. Join Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring as they try to put an end to the evil that Sauron and his minions have brought to Middle Earth.
One Ring to govern them all, one Ring to find them, one Ring to gather them all together and bond them in the darkness in Mordor, the Land of the Shadows.
J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion
This collection of Tolkien stories, published posthumously, serves as a literary prequel to the events of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, describing the genesis of Middle Earth and the history of its early peoples before closing as the events of the more renowned trilogy begin to unfold.
Robert Louis Stevenson kidnaps her.
Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous coming-of-age story about David, a young Scotsman who seeks out his uncle to claim his fortune when his parents die. David is sold into slavery in the American colonies by his uncle, who wants to claim the fortune as his own. As David makes his way back to Scotland to face his uncle and recover his birthright, he discovers adventure.
Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
The adventures of Captain Nemo and his ship the Nautilus are chronicled in this literary masterpiece.
Everything revolves around the water. It takes up seven tenths of the earth’s surface. It exhales clean, wholesome air. It’s a vast desert, yet man never feels alone since life is stirring all around him. The sea is nothing more than the physical manifestation of a miraculous and glorious life. It’s all about love and feeling.
Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island
Although the themes are quite different, this lesser-known work by Jules Verne is really a sequel to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A group of American Civil War POWs flee the country in a hijacked hot air balloon, which falls on a magical island where they must struggle for life.
Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days
Sure, eighty days may seem like a long time to go around the globe these days, but Phileas Fogg, who bet 20,000 British pounds in 1872 that he could accomplish it, was clearly hopeful. As he seeks to make good on his promise, he uses trains, steam ships, and even the odd elephant ride in his circumnavigation.
Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers
The exploits of d’Artagnan and the Three Musketeers are chronicled in this famous story, which follows these noble swashbucklers as they protect the dignity of their queen and nation.
Our slogan is “all for one, one for all.”
Peter Pan is a fictional character who appears in the J. M. Barrie’s story
The youngster who refused to grow up is a timeless figure who need little introduction. Fly with Pan and the Lost Boys as they fight battle against Captain Hook and his merry gang of pirates. For over a century, J. M. Barrie’s literary masterwork has been the bedtime tale of choice for growing boys.
Ernest Hemingway’s True at First Light
Ernest Hemingway describes lion hunting with his wife in East Africa during the 1953 Mau Mau insurrection in this fictitious book. As he juggles a busy hunting schedule, his responsibilities as a game warden and local defender of the people, and a secret tribal marriage to a local tribeswoman, fact and fiction collide.
John Buchan’s The Thirty-Nine Steps
Follow Richard Hannay as he flees the law in the Scottish countryside, hoping to establish his innocence while also deciphering clues that might alter Britain’s destiny in World War I. It’s a mix of Sherlock Holmes and The Da Vinci Code.
Jack London’s novel The Call of the Wild
This novel, written by author Jack London, follows Buck, a domestic dog who is pushed into the sledding world in the Yukon during the gold rush of the nineteenth century.
There was no quiet, no repose, no sense of security here. All was chaos and activity, and life and limb were on the line at all times. Because these dogs and men were not city dogs and men, they needed to be continually attentive. They were all savages who lived by the law of the club and the fang.
Jack London’s The Sea Wolf
The intriguing story of Humphrey Van Wheydon, a rich man who is flung into the water after his ship collides with another in a thick fog. Van Wheydon is finally saved by a seal hunting expedition, whose commander is a violent guy known as the Sea Wolf, who chooses to keep him on board as a servant. On the surface, this novel seems to be an adventure story, yet deeper inspection reveals essential insight into man’s inhumanity to man.
Mark Twain’s Roughing It
As he travels around the Old West, Mark Twain shares his own unique viewpoint. Stagecoaches, gold, prospecting, and a villain straight out of a Spaghetti Western make for thrilling reading from beginning to end. Though Twain stated that these anecdotes were factual, it is widely believed that some of them had been exaggerated.
Alex Garland’s The Beach
A small group of teenage travellers embarks on a once-in-a-lifetime expedition in quest of a famous beach that is claimed to be perfect in every aspect. However, as they get at the beach, they realize that something so exquisite is difficult to keep hidden.
Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick
Captain Ahab’s obsessive pursuit for vengeance on the big white whale that injured him, as narrated by Ishmael, a sailor on board Ahab’s ship.
All that enrages and torments; all that stirs up the lees of things; all truth with malice in it; all that fractures the sinews and cakes the brain; all the subtle demonisms of existence and thinking; all evil were visibly personified, and rendered practically assailable in Moby-Dick, according to insane Ahab. He placed the total of all the universal wrath and hatred felt by his whole species from Adam down upon the whale’s white hump, and then, as if his chest were a mortar, he exploded his hot heart’s shell upon it.
Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe
The legendary narrative of the shipwrecked Robinson Crusoe as he forges a new life on a distant island off the coast of South America, written as though by Crusoe himself.
And so I have presented the first Part of a Life of Fortune and Adventure, a Life of Providence’s Chequer-Work, and of a Variety that the World will seldom be able to display the likes of: Beginning stupidly, but ending far more pleasantly than any Part of it ever gave me Leave to hope for.
Rafael Sabatini’s Captain Blood
An Irish surgeon is wrongfully accused of treason, but he manages to leave and avoids death. He finally makes his way to the Caribbean and becomes one of the most infamous pirates on the high seas. While Captain Blood is a work of fiction, his actions are partially inspired on the life of pirate Henry Morgan.
Anthony Hope’s The Prisoner of Zenda
An English tourist visiting imaginary Ruritania is thrust into unusual circumstances when he is selected to mimic the newly abducted monarch in order to avoid the political turmoil that would inevitably ensue if the king’s kidnapping was made public.
William Golding’s Lord of the Flies
On the surface, this classic is a narrative of adventure and survival, but it is also an in-depth examination of human nature and society. When an aircraft crashes on a lonely island, there are no adult survivors, leaving the children to fend for themselves until help arrives. As the guys strive to build their own society, problems arise, and the leaders’ influence threatens to corrupt their values.
Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness
As reported by Marlow, the man sent to recover Kurtz, an ivory merchant in the Belgian Congo who has “gone native.” An adventure novel wrapped in a deep indictment of human nature.
They had all gone forth on that stream, bringing the sword and often the torch, messengers of the strength inside the nation, carriers of a spark from the holy fire, whether they were wealth hunters or glory seekers. What majesty had not sunk into the mystery of an unknown world on the ebb of that river? . . . Men’s dreams, the germs of empires, the seeds of commonwealths.
Clive Cussler’s Inca Gold
Dirk Pitt, a dashing adventurer in the spirit of Indiana Jones or James Bond, is the only thing standing between smugglers and a centuries-old Incan treasure trove buried high in the Peruvian Andes.
Clive Cussler’s novel Sahara
This narrative follows Dirk Pitt as he hunts for the wreck of a Civil War-era iron-side ship and the wealth it carries in the most improbable of locations in another installment of Cussler’s brave adventurer.
Clive Cussler’s Treasure
In this contemporary classic, join Dirk Pitt as he searches for the mythical riches of the Library of Alexandria.
Jules Verne’s The Lighthouse at the End of the World
The Lighthouse at the End of the World is a lesser-known Jules Verne tale about three men who work at a lighthouse on an island near the southern point of South America. When the lighthouse is attacked by pirates, who aim to use the light to crash unwary ships onto the surrounding reef, the men are forced to fight for survival.
Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur
Malory’s depiction of King Arthur’s narrative, which dates back centuries, is a literary masterpiece. It covers love, treachery, conflict, and a never-ending search for the Holy Grail in multiple unique Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table stories.
Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth
In this adventure classic, descend down the mouth of a volcano and into the depths of the unknown on a quest to reach the earth’s core.
I quickly felt that peculiar and enigmatic emotion that arises in the mind when staring down from high peaks, and I was now able to do it without feeling anxious, having thankfully hardened myself to such profound contemplation. I lost track of who I was and where I was. Without thinking about the abysses into which my boldness was going to plunge me, I got enamored with a feeling of high sublimity.
Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan of the Apes
Over twenty sequels and numerous feature films have followed the immortal title character, who was initially presented here. Tarzan, who was raised by gorillas, searches for the truth about his origins and ends himself at conflict with the gorilla king who killed his father.
Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo
The Count of Monte Cristo is largely regarded as a dramatic story of retribution and vindication, but it also has a hearty dose of adventure for its readers. Swordfights, jail escapes, and buried wealth all contribute to Edmond Dantes’ transition into the enigmatic Count of Monte Cristo persona.
Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book
These timeless tales provide the ideal bedtime stories for a young boy, and they are a compilation of yarns appropriate for the young explorer. The life stories of Mowgli, the little boy raised by wolves, and Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, the brave mongoose, are particularly noteworthy.
Jules Verne’s novel In Search of the Castaways
A telegram from Captain Grant of the Brittania, long thought to be lost at sea, is recovered in a bottle found on a beach. The information in the letter leads to the commencement of a rescue effort, but the rescuers have limited information to work with since they only have incomplete coordinates and hints in a foreign language.
H. Rider Haggard’s The People of the Mist
Fortune seekers come to Africa in pursuit of the legendary People of the Mist, who are said to be hiding an unrivaled treasure of gems. The fortune seekers, disguised as gods, get more than they bargained for when they get embroiled in a power struggle between the monarch and the priests who are controlled by the people’s crocodile deity.
It’s now your time! What more fantastic fictional adventure tales did we overlook? Please share your suggestions.
Click here to get a list of simply the titles and author names for printing.
The “adventure books for adults 2020” is a list of 50 best fiction adventure books. The list includes titles from multiple genres, including fantasy and science-fiction.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a good adventure books to read?
A: There are so many adventure books out there it is hard to name a good one. Some of the most famous ones include The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter.
Who is the best adventure writer?
A: Ernest Hemingway
What action books should I read?
A: Lets see if I can answer this question for you. Have you read War and Peace? Or The Lord of the Flies
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