Stepping Out Into the World – Top 10 True Adventure Books

Posted on November 30, 2022

by Amy H

The best adventure stories enlighten as well as entertain us. It’s one thing to show how something exciting happened, another to show what we can learn from this amazing experience. Below are some wonderful recently written true adventure stories to enjoy.

Life on the Mississippi: An Epic American Adventure by Rinker Buck

eBook | eAudiobook | Large Print

Buck relates building a wooden flatboat like those used in the early 1800s and sailing down the Mississippi River to New Orleans, aiming to relive the initial expansion of the United States by intrepid farmers, merchants, and hopeful pioneers. He shares great stories of the history of the river and those he meets along the way as he navigates the dangers of one of the largest rivers in the US. American history buffs and armchair adventurers will relish the trip.

Into the Great Emptiness: Peril and Survival on the Greenland Ice Cap by David Roberts


In March 1931, a 2-man expedition ventured out to the wilds of Greenland to relieve a fellow team member who had been braving deteriorating weather conditions with dwindling supplies and manning a distant weather station solo for months. Soon all three would be fighting for their lives. Perfect for fans of adventure stories, this is stellar writing and an essential read for Arctic enthusiasts.

Catch Me if You Can: One Woman’s Journey to Every Country in the World by Jessica Nabongo

eBook | hoopla

Nabongo shares her adventures as she travels to all 195 UN-recognized countries in the world, showing that a positive, open-minded worldview can connect across even the widest cultural barriers.

River of the Gods: Genius, Courage, and Betrayal in the Search for the Source of the Nile by Candice Millard

eBook | eAudiobook

In 1854, the Royal Geographical Society chose Richard Francis Burton to lead an expedition to locate the source of the longest branch of the Nile River. Millard creates a palpable sense of the daunting task undertaken by three ambitious men: the magnetic, impulsive, and often combative expedition leader Richard Burton; John Hanning Speke, an aristocratic infantry lieutenant and passionate hunter whose initial interest in East Africa was largely for the animals he could kill; and their resourceful native guide, Sidi Mubarak Bombay a former enslaved person whose intimate knowledge of tribes and terrain proved to be indispensable. Readers will be riveted in this engrossing, sharply drawn adventure tale.

Icebound: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World by Andrea Pitzer


16th-century Dutch explorer William Barents and his crew of sixteen ventured farther north than any Europeans before and, on their third polar exploration, they lost their ship off the frozen coast of Nova Zembla to unforgiving ice. The men would spend the next year fighting off ravenous polar bears, gnawing hunger, and endless winter. Pitzer masterfully combines a gripping tale of survival with a sweeping history of the great Age of Exploration.

Bicycling with Butterflies: My 10,201-Mile Journey Following the Monarch Migration by Sara Dykman


Outdoor educator and field researcher Sara Dykman is the first person to bicycle along­side monarch butterflies on their storied annual migration–a round-trip adventure that included three countries and more than 10,000 miles. An extraordinary story in which Dykman seamlessly weaves together science, a real love of nature and the adventure and hazards of biking with butterflies from Mexico to Canada and back.

Every Day the River Changes: Four Weeks Down the Magdalena by Jordan Salama

Journalist Salama debuts with a mesmerizing travelogue spanning four weeks on different stretches of Colombia’s Magdalena River, including embarking on a hunt for invasive hippos with local biologists and befriending a former schoolteacher who delivers books, via donkey, to local children. Through keen reporting, Salama unpacks how “the ever-shifting fortunes of the Colombian people have long mirrored the rise and fall of their country’s greatest river”–from the river’s booming “golden age” in the 1940s to its ecological ruin and the violence of guerrilla war that plagued subsequent decades. Both complex and achingly beautiful, this is outstanding and insightful writing.

Olive the Lionheart: Lost Love, Imperial Spies, and One Woman’s Journey into the Heart of Africa by Brad Ricca

eAudiobook | Large Print

In 1910, Olive MacLeod, a thirty-year-old, redheaded Scottish aristocrat, received word that her fiancé, the famous naturalist Boyd Alexander, was missing in Africa.

So she went to find him.

The Arbornaut: A Life Discovering the Eighth Continent in the Trees Above Us by Meg Lowman

Nicknamed the “real-life Lorax,” conservationist Lowman takes a passionate look at the “unexplored wonderland” of trees in this vivid survey of life among forest canopies. Over half of all land creatures live “about one hundred feet or more above our heads,” Lowman writes, and notes that, historically, information about trees has focused from “trunk-level,” despite the fact that the dark ground is vastly different from the sun-filled canopy. This is a winning combination of fascinating science and real-life adventure making a highly engaging read.

Lost in the Valley of Death: A Story of Obsession and Danger in the Himalayas

eBook | eAudiobook

In the vein of Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild, this riveting work of narrative nonfiction centers on the unsolved disappearance of an American backpacker in India in 2016–one of at least two dozen tourists who have met a similar fate in the remote and storied Parvati Valley.

Did you like this blog post? Keep up to date with all of our posts by subscribing to the Library’s newsletters!

Keep your reading list updated with our book lists. Our staff love to read and they’ll give you the scoop on new tv-series inspired titles, hobbies, educational resources, pop culture, current events, and more!

Looking for more great titles? Get personalized recommendations from our librarians with this simple form.