Best Non Fiction Adventure Books

Sometimes real life is better than fiction – especially when it comes to adventure books about true stories that amaze and inspire!

Best Non Fiction Adventure Books

So to help you find your next page-turner, we’ve rounded up our picks for the best non fiction adventure books that you can start reading today.

These must-read non-fiction books offer real-life stories of adventure, excitement, and courage. And we must admit it: they’re all page-turners from the first page to the last!

So with all that said, here’s our list of 19 best non fiction adventure books that you need to add to your reading list!

1. Into Thin Air: A Personal Account Of The Mount Everest Disaster

  • Author: Jon Krakauer
  • Publication Date: 1997
  • Publisher: Anchor Books
  • Genre: Non Fiction, Adventure, Memoir

Is there a bigger adventure than one that takes you to the top of the world? Into Thin Air is the memoir of Jon Krakauer, who climbed and survived Mt. Everest during one of its worst-ever recorded seasons. It’s an edge-of-your-seat account that’s as inspiring as it is gripping.

2. Into The Wild

  • Author: Jon Krakauer
  • Publication Date: 1996
  • Publisher: Anchor Books
  • Genre: Non Fiction, Biography, Travel

You might have watched Into the Wild – the inspiring film about adventurer Christopher McCandless, starring Emile Hirsch.

Well, here’s the book, and it’s a must-read if you loved the movie – or often think about abandoning it all and going on an adventure!

3. Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage

  • Author: Alfred Lansing
  • Publication Date: 1959
  • Publisher: Carroll & Graf Publishers
  • Genre: Non Fiction, History, Adventure

In 1914, explorer Ernest Shackleton journeyed to the South Pole on an adventure that almost cost the lives of him and his 27-strong crew. Here’s everything that happened (and a lot did happen!), told in incredible detail by American reporter Alfred Lansing.

4. Touching The Void: The True Story Of One Man’s Miraculous Survival

  • Author: Joe Simpson
  • Publication Date: 1988
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial
  • Genre: Non Fiction, Adventure

Touching the Void is Joe Simpson’s personal account of his adventure climbing in the Peruvian Andes and how he managed to survive after his partner Simon was forced to leave him behind. A true story and by far one of the most riveting climbing accounts ever told.

5. A Walk In The Woods: Rediscovering America On The Appalachian Trail

  • Author: Bill Bryson
  • Publication Date: 1998
  • Publisher: Anchor Books
  • Genre: Non Fiction, Travel, Memoir

The Appalachian Trail is one of the most sought-after hiking trails in the world. And if you’re looking to hike it one day or are just interested in reading an in-depth guide of its trails, wildlife, and ecology—Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods is the book to read!

6. The Lost City Of Z: A Tale Of Deadly Obsession In The Amazon

  • Author: David Grann
  • Publication Date: 2009
  • Publisher: Doubleday/Random House
  • Genre: Non Fiction, History, Adventure

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon details Percy Fawcett’s adventure and quest to find a lost civilization in the Amazon.

If you like mysteries, ancient history, and lost cities, this is a true account of a 20th century expedition that’s engaging from start to finish.

7. Alive: The Story Of The Andes Survivors

  • Author: Piers Paul Read
  • Publication Date: 1974
  • Publisher: Avon
  • Genre: Non Fiction, History, Adventure, Survival

A survival story with adventure elements, Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors is a thrilling read about the 45 passengers who crashed in the Andes in October, 1972. Piers Paul Read gives a full account of the events that saw only 16 passengers survive.

8. The Perfect Storm: A True Story Of Men Against The Sea

  • Author: Sebastian Junger
  • Publication Date: 1997
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
  • Genre: Non Fiction, History, Adventure

Love stories about sea voyages? The Perfect Storm details one of the most incredible sea voyages ever made – and the unforgiving storm that almost shipwrecked the Andrea Gail and its six-strong crew. The sea isn’t to be underestimated, and this true story tells exactly why!

9. Wild: From Lost To Found On The Pacific Crest Trail

  • Author: Cheryl Strayed
  • Publication Date: 2012
  • Publisher: Knopf
  • Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir, Travel, Adventure

Cheryl Strayed embarked on a hike of the Pacific Crest Trail at the age of 22 with no hiking experience – totally on a whim. This is her full, and impulsive, adventure from the Mojave to Washington State, told in a personal memoir that’s both funny and inspiring!

10. In The Heart Of The Sea: The Tragedy Of The Whaleship Essex

  • Author: Nathaniel Philbrick
  • Publication Date: 2000
  • Publisher: Penguin Books
  • Genre: Non Fiction, History, Adventure

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex is the story of the Essex and its 20-man crew that embarked on a voyage for whales – only to sail into more than they bargained for when a huge sperm whale sank the ship. Love Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick? Here’s the true story that inspired it.

11. In The Kingdom Of Ice: The Grand And Terrible Polar Voyage Of The USS Jeannette

  • Author: Hampton Sides
  • Publication Date: 2014
  • Publisher: Doubleday
  • Genre: Non Fiction, History, Adventure, Survival

Storms, icebergs, polar bears, freezing cold temperatures, and starvation, Captain George Washington De Long’s 1879 voyage into the Arctic was no walk in the park.

Aptly titled, In the Kingdom of Ice is a true story of adventure, survival against the elements, and perseverance.

12. Miracle In The Andes

  • Author: Nando Parrado and Vince Rause
  • Publication Date: 2006
  • Publisher: Broadway Books
  • Genre: Non Fiction, Adventure, Survival

Miracle in the Andes details the same events of Alive: The Story of the Andes (listed above) but with a personal account from Nando Parrado – one of the survivors who was also the coach of the rugby team carried by the plane that crashed. If you enjoyed Alive, Miracle in the Andes is the book to read next.

13. Eiger Dreams: Ventures Among Men And Mountains

  • Author: Jon Krakauer
  • Publication Date: 1990
  • Publisher: Anchor
  • Genre: Non Fiction, Adventure

Here’s another book from Jon Krakauer (yep, he’s had his share of adventures – and close calls), in which he describes the ups and downs of his most daring climbs and his drive to raise the bar of physical and mental endurance – a must-read for hikers and mountaineers.

14. Adrift: Seventy-Six Days Lost At Sea

  • Author: Steven Callahan
  • Publication Date: 1986
  • Publisher: Mariner Books
  • Genre: Non Fiction, Adventure, Survival

Can you imagine spending over a month on a small raft in the middle of the ocean, alone? Adrift: Seventy-Six Days Lost at Sea is the real-life story of Steven Callahan, who managed to survive exactly that after his boat capsized in the Atlantic.

15. Shadow Divers

  • Author: Robert Kurson
  • Publication Date: 2004
  • Publisher: Random House
  • Genre: Non Fiction, History, Adventure

Deep wreck diving is awe-inspiring… and dangerous. And Shadow Divers provides a fascinating yet suffocating perspective of the mysterious German U-boat that was discovered in 1991, what was found on it, and the deep divers that pushed their limits to uncover the mystery behind what happened on the boat.

16. In A Sunburned Country

  • Author: Bill Bryson
  • Publication Date: 2000
  • Publisher: Broadway Books
  • Genre: Non Fiction, Travel, Memoir

Here is another first-hand account and personal guide by Bill Bryson, this time in Australia, that’s packed with travel insights, heartfelt humor, and dangerous surprises from his journeys and adventures down under – a must-read for travelers, hikers, and wildlife enthusiasts.

17. Seven Years In Tibet

  • Author: Heinrich Harrer
  • Publication Date: 1953
  • Publisher: Tarcher
  • Genre: Non Fiction, Travel, History, Memoir

Tibet is a place of beauty and mystery, and Seven Years in Tibet provides an up-close and personal account from the author, Heinrich Harrer, who fled to Tibet and spent seven years there learning about its history, culture, and religion.

18. The Innocents Abroad

  • Author: Mark Twain
  • Publication Date: 1869
  • Publisher: Modern Library
  • Genre: Non Fiction, Travel, Classics

Would this list be complete without this Mark Twain classic? The Innocents Abroad details Mark Twain’s travels in 1867, what he called his “Great Pleasure Excursion”, told with the kind of wit and humor that’s expected from the famous creator of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer.

19. The Climb: Tragic Ambitions On Everest

  • Author: Anatoli Boukreev and G. Weston DeWalt
  • Publication Date: 1997
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
  • Genre: Non Fiction, Adventure, Travel, Survival, Memoir

We began this list with an Everest adventure, so The Climb: Tragic Ambitions on Everest is the perfect book to wrap up our list.

Recounting a brave solo climb to rescue the climbers of two expeditions that went very, very wrong, The Climb is a must-read survival story and rescue mission that’s told by the hero himself, Anatoli Boukreev.

Final Word

And that concludes our list of the 19 best non fiction books that you need to read – real-life true stories that entertain, shock, excite, and inspire. Add these to your reading list and start checking them off today!

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