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The 100 Greatest Adventure Books of All Time

National Geographic have compiled a list of the 100 best adventure books of all time. I blogged about this ages ago, but just re-discovered it and thought it worth another airing.
It seemed a perfect excuse to ask about people’s own personal favourite adventure/travel/expedition books. I am always looking for new, quality books to read and learn from, so please do post a comment or drop me an email with your own opinions.

The National Geographic list is, clearly, deeply flawed. The two greatest travel books of all time didn’t make the cut, nor did my own personal favourite book. It is hard to quibble though with their choice of Number 1, Apsley Cherry Garrard’s ‘The Worst Journey in the World’ (which I blogged about here).

If you enjoy books, reading, excerpts and recommendations then do also dip into my Books blog.
Have a look at the complete National Geographic list here, see how many you’ve ticked off, and howl at what you perceive to be the unforgivable omissions. Then share them with me.

Here’s the Top 10.

1. The Worst Journey in the World, by Apsley Cherry-Garrard
2. Journals, by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark
3. Wind, Sand & Stars, by Antoine de Saint-Exup ry
4. Exploration of the Colorado River, by John Wesley Powell
5. Arabian Sands, by Wilfred Thesiger
6. Annapurna, by Maurice Herzog
7. Desert Solitaire, by Edward Abbey
8. West With the Night, by Beryl Markham
9. Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer
10. Travels, by Marco Polo

Any more suggestions? What would you add to this list…
How many of them have you read?

Read Comments

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  1. As I’ve already ticked off (well, you’ve just got to Russia) “the two greatest travel books of all time”… and have your personal favourite ordered, what others can you suggest?

  2. Rob,
    Have you read The Worst Journey in the World?
    A Time of Gifts? White Spider? Living Dangerously? The Life of My Choice…?

  3. Thanks Alistair, some good suggestions there. Added a couple to the “wanted list”. It was actually Ranulph Fiennes’ “Mad, bad and dangerous to know” that somehow led me to your books. Maybe it was the amazon “…Bought This Item Also Bought”.
    I’ll get back to your Siberian winter first.



  4. Ooops, I apologise for the misspelt name!

  5. Have you read ‘The Backpacker’ by John Harris? Amazing true tale that really captures the young spirit of adventure. Also, I really enjoyed ‘The Gringo Trail’ by Mark Mann a while back… neither would be in the ‘classic’ list, but ‘the backpacker’ especially will always be a personal favourite of mine..

  6. ‘Exploration Fawcett’ is a great read about Fawcett’s amazing expeditions into South America and his search for the lost city of ‘Z’.

  7. Any more suggestions? What would you add to this list…
    How many of them have you read?

  8. I know what is missing! 500 mile walkies.

  9. and Travels with Charlie.

  10. emmanuel leus Posted

    The list is fascinating for sure and open to endless comments and idea’s.
    But one big idea is completely missing form the lists :
    the fictional advanture books wish can be as inspiring as any other.
    Why not draw up a list of the 100 or any other number for that of good fictional travelbooks.
    Let me propose these three entries already :
    ‘Youth’ by Koseph Conrad
    a little gem about a mariner who wants to go east. Very inspiring. Pure joy to read. The man really wants to go travelling.
    ‘The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket’ by Edgard Allan Poe
    It’s a little know story by Poe and in my mind a book about the very worst trip ever set upon by a man.

    Would love to see more entries!

  11. Nation Harris Posted

    Hiya Alastair,
    could I recommend a few?

    Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer

    The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara

    The Autobiography of a Supertramp by W.H. Davies

    I can’t think of anymore, ahaha!

  12. fred blob Posted

    these books are not very recent and there aren’t many but thanx =)

  13. fred blobby Posted


  14. I just wanted to comment & say that I was very impressed with the design on your blog & also your writing skills.. happy holidays!

  15. Hamish Posted

    Just finished the Worst Journey after reading about it here. A fantastic read – many thanks for the recommendation. I feel guilty complaining about anything now after reading about the suffering of those fine men.

  16. Peter Cleghorn Posted

    Into the Heart of Borneo by Redmond O’Hanlon
    very, very Funny

  17. All the books here are pretty serious/hardcore adventure travel books. I miss some more quirky travel books (and that’s my kind of adventure). Indispensable on the list:
    * Round Ireland with a Fridge – Tony Hawk
    * Tuva or Bust – Richard Feynman and Ralph Leighton
    * Travels on my Elephant – Mark Shand
    * Swimming to Antarctica – Lynne Cox
    and tons more to find on

  18. In terms of books that should inspire a good mirco-adventure is one red paperclip.

  19. Jean-Yves Domalain: Panjamon

  20. Swanand Apte Posted

    Don’t miss : ‘Blood River’ & ‘Chasing the devil’ by Tim Butcher.

  21. Marshall Posted

    Sounds like I’ve got some reading to do, might I also suggest “the walking drum” by Louis L’amour, “The Walk Series” by Richard Paul Evans, and “Kidnapped” by Robert Louis Stevenson?



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