These 17 Books Will Have You Ready to Set Off on a Grand Adventure
The world isn't exactly prime for exploring these days, but if you're looking for some great books about adventure to keep your imagination lively, we've got some ideas for you! Adventure books come in all genres, including science fiction, young adult, literary fiction, and even history and nonfiction, so there's something for everyone's taste. The best adventure stories suck you into a thrilling world full of interesting characters and breathless escapades — or, perhaps, tales that are a little less explosive, but no less meaningful.
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
The Bear and the Nightingale, the first entry in Katherine Arden's Winternight trilogy, pulls readers into an eerie Russian fantasy adventure. When Vasya's new stepmother forbids her from honoring the spirits, strange things begin happening in their village. Vasya finds herself having to draw upon power she's long concealed in order to stand up for her home against her stepmother and against the evil forces of nature.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
It's always a good time to visit the now-iconic YA adventure series by Suzanne Collins. The original book, The Hunger Games, introduces us to the totalitarian society of Panem, which has replaced North America sometime in a post-apocalyptic future. Katniss Everdeen, a hunter from an impoverished district, volunteers to replace her little sister in a televised fight to the death between teenagers, and — in trying to remain true to herself — helps spark a rebellion in a downtrodden society.
Sahara by Clive Cussler
Sahara is, arguably, Clive Cussler's most famous book. It's an international conspiracy thriller set in the unforgiving desert. When adventurer Dirk Pitt discovers a secret research facility is leaking chemicals into the environment, he sets off on a dangerous trek to warn the world about the potential disaster.
Recursion by Blake Crouch
Blake Crouch's Recursion is a sci-fi adventure where an apparent pandemic turns out to not be a virus, but instead something more sinister, originating in time itself. A detective and a neuroscientist must team up to discover the truth and fight back before time loops and the world turns to eternal chaos.
Toward the Midnight Sun by Eoin Dempsey
Toward the Midnight Sun is Eoin Dempsey's historical adventure with a fierce woman at the center of it all. Anna agrees to marry a wealthy prospector to save her family from ruin, and on the perilous voyage there, she befriends a pair of men who agree to escort her safely to her destination. Their arrival seems smooth, but no one is who they seem, especially when there's gold to be found.
This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
Sci-fi authors Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone team up on This Is How You Lose the Time War, a sci-fi adventure with a twist. Two time-traveling agents on opposite sides of a futuristic war strike up a correspondence and, gradually, a close emotional bond. Across timelines, they must work against enemies and time itself to avoid losing the war — or each other.
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Maybe you loved one of Neil Gaiman's books — or one of their screen adaptations — or maybe you're a total newbie. Either way, American Gods, the tale of a newly released convict whose life is touched by tragedy, is a must read. He's offered a job from a mysterious stranger, and soon learns about a dark and secret world beneath the surface where a war is brewing for the fate of whole world.
Underground by Will Hunt
Not all adventure books are works of fiction. Will Hunt's Underground is a thrilling look at strange and fascinating underground structures around the world and the people who explore them. From ancient catacombs to abandoned subways, Hunt embarks on a series of adventures along with other explorers, setting out to learn more about the history hidden underneath our feet.
The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin
With The City We Became, N.K. Jemisin turns the sci-fi adventure genre into a strange and evocative love letter to New York City and its mythology. A group of apparent strangers enter the city and realize that they can somehow hear and feel the hearts and souls of the boroughs themselves calling out. But what exactly are they saying?
This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger
In This Tender Land, William Kent Krueger narrates the story of four young orphans who run away from their indoctrinating school in the 1930s. As they journey down the Mississippi River in search of a new home, they cross paths with a variety of other people who are all on their own adventures, too.
Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
Jon Krakauer's Mount Everest memoir Into Thin Air has been required reading for years, and it's easy to see why. Krakauer survived a massive storm-triggered disaster on Everest in 1996, and his memoir outlines the tense transition from hopeful adventure to a struggle for survival and, eventually, a struggle with survivor's guilt.
A Burning by Megha Majumdar
Megha Majumdar's debut novel, A Burning, isn't a sci-fi or wilderness adventure: it's the kind of adventure that takes place among the realities of modern conflict in India. The central figures are Jivan, a girl from the slums accused of a terrorist attack thanks to a careless social media post, PT Sir, an ascending figure in far-right circles, and Lovely, a charming outcast. Their paths converge in the aftermath of the aforementioned attack, setting each on a journey toward discovering what kind of futures they really have in this world.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Set in a post-pandemic collapsed society, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel traces the travels of a wandering troupe of artists and performers dedicated to preserving the remains of human culture. When they encounter a so-called "prophet" in one town, their very existence comes under attack as the past and present collide.
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
Erin Morgenstern's The Starless Sea is a different kind of adventure book: one that takes place in, literally, a world of stories. Grad student Zachary discovers a mysterious book that shouldn't exist, and when he tries to pursue the truth, he finds himself entangled in a strange and timeless struggle centered on a magical ancient library, the guardians who protect it, and the enemies who would harm it.
The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz
In The Future of Another Timeline, Annalee Newitz creates a time-traveling crime adventure that spans two different time periods. In the past, a teenage girl and her friends become vigilantes who protect young women from abusers, while, in the near future, a time traveler tries to go into the past and rewrite history for more just outcomes. The two women's goals collide when a war for time itself breaks out, threatening to leave humanity's fate in the hands of a powerful few.
Bonds of Brass by Emily Skrutskie
Got Star Wars withdrawals? Bonds of Brass, the first book in a planned trilogy by Emily Skrutsie, is your new must read. In the aftermath of a galactic war of empires, the only person that hotshot pilot Ettian trusts is his best friend, Gal. When Gal is revealed to secretly be the heir to the empire that destroyed Ettian's home, Ettian makes a split-second decision to go on the run with Gal, thrusting both of them into a fast-paced adventure while they try to deal with their burgeoning more-than-friendly feelings for each other.
The Martian by Andy Weir
If you saw the film adaptation of The Martian but haven't picked up Andy Weir's original novel, now's your chance! It's a survival adventure story with one major twist: our hero, Mark Watney, isn't stranded in the woods or in the desert, but on Mars. After being presumed dead and left behind in a Martian dust storm, Mark has to use every skill he has to contact Earth — and then survive until help arrives.