I have to admit it, I’m a bit of a book addict. I love books – books about computers, books about travel, books about science, books about poker, sci-fi books, classic literature, cyberpunk you name it – if it’s a book I’ll read it. One of my favourite types of book though are books about action and adventure, books about people pushing the boundaries, taking risks, and really experiencing life.
My book shelves are packed with these sorts of books, and I thought I’d share ten of my favourites in the hope that it might inspire people to share some their own. So if you have some suggestions make sure you leave a comment below…
Over The Edge
This book charts Michael’s attempts to try everything on his list. From ice climbing to extreme mountain biking, kayaking off a waterfall to running the Death Valley ultramarathon this is the story of someone going all out to try some awesome adventure sports, and it’s well written and funny too! This is the book which inspired me to start my own LIST and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in action, adventure, extreme sports and in finding and pushing your own limits.
This is the story of one man’s quest to become a BASE jumper. After jumping with a parachute from a building, an antenna tower, a bridge and a cliff Jevto became the 66th official fully fledged BASE jumper. The book charts his attempts to make his early jumps, some near death experiences, and tells of adrenaline, terror, horror, joy and friendship. If you’re interested in extreme sports them this one needs to be on your bookshelf.
Flying With Condors
This is the only book on the list I’ve read twice! It’s about Judy’s adventures with hang gliders and para gliders. It starts with her struggling to learn to fly, and follows her journey to becoming a three times world champion, six times British womens champion, and from crossing the English channel to flying with the eponymous condors in the Andies. If you’re at all interested in flying or adventure you’ll love this.
Between A Rock And A Hard Place
This book alternates chapters telling stories of climbing in Colorado – avalanches, snowstorms and adventure, with a detailed account of a near-death accident when the author was canyoning alone and his arm got trapped by a rock which moved as he climbed over it. Knowing he was in a place that few people visit, he spent several days hoping for rescue and trying to free himself before eventually amputating his own arm, knowing the alternative was to die. Aron holds nothing back in his telling of the story, but don’t think this is a book about someone cutting their arm off – it’s a book about living life to the full, adventure, climbing, and pushing your own limits. One of my favourite books of all time.
A Bike Ride
This is the story of an ex-headmistress who gave up her job and cycled solo around the world for 15 months during the 1980s. It’s quite refreshing to read about someone who you wouldn’t expect to be much of an adventurer doing a trip like this. Anne was 54 at the time, and wasn’t in great physical shape before she set off – she just decided that she was going to do it, and nothing would stop her. Really makes you think “if she can do it, I can do it”
Long Way Round
Ewen McGregor and Charley Boorman
I watched the TV series of this adventure when it was first shown in 2004, and instantly wanted to get a motorcycle! The book is just as good as the series, and charts an awesome 20,000 mile ride around the world. Even though they had a support crew and cameras on them you get a real sense of adventure which is infectious. I’ll always remember this as the reason I got into motorcycling!
Triumph Around The World
There are a lot of motorcycle adventure books, such as Jupiter’s Travels and Running With The Moon, but this one captured my imagination. I’m not sure if it was the style of writing, the encounters he describes along the way, or the fact he was riding a Triumph Trophy, but when I do my first long distance motorbike trip this is the book I’ll cite as being a major inspiration!
Dark Shadows Falling
Joe is probably better known for Touching The Void, another great book, but this one is even better in my opinion. It covers Joe’s own climbing adventures, mixed in with reflections on a number of climbing tragedies and goes into the morals and ethics of climbing and adventure sports in general. While Touching The Void is a more powerful story, this goes a lot deeper into why people choose to attempt extreme climbs, head into the mountains and put themselves at risk.
One Step Beyond
Quite a different book to the others on this list, but even more inspiring. While this book certainly involves adrenaline and adventure, it’s not about someone seeking adventure, but rather a brave and hugely inspirational individual coping with harrowing adversity and showing immense inner strength. Chris was working on a landmine clearance team in Cambodia when he was captured by the Khmer Rouge, but through superb leadership skills managed to free himself and his colleagues with their lives. After than, an accident while clearing landmines and lost his lower right leg and arm. Not only did he survive, but he completed the London Marathon less than one year afterwards, and went on to become the first amputee to complete the 250km Great Sahara Run 2 years later. A truly inspirational book.
Another book which doesn’t immediately seem to fit with the others on this list, but I still felt I should include it. The other books on this list are about life, and living it to the full. At first glance this book appears to be about death – what happens to our minds and bodies in those final moments when an adventure goes wrong, but in fact it’s through talking about what can go wrong and explaining both the science and psychology behind it that Stark manages to shed some light on why people are drawn to extreme sports and adventure. It’s certainly not for everyone, but I found it very interesting, and there is lots of real-world useful information in there which could help save lives for anyone who finds themselves in a perilous situation.
So there we go, my top ten adventure books. So come on, why not share some of your own favourites? Please leave a comment below telling everyone what your favourite books about action and adventure are!