The best books to make you want to experience life-changing adventures

Who am I?

I have been fascinated with travel and adventure stories since I read The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. I finished a whole Walter Scott book; with a dictionary balanced on one knee because Jeanie Deans decides to walk from Edinburgh to London. Romance? Bah! Humbug! I’d rather journey into The Heart of Darkness, follow the hobbits to Mount Doom, or ride a sandworm with Paul Atreides. Show me a lone traveler thrown into the middle of an unfamiliar, confusing culture and you have my full attention. Naturally, when I started typing out my first manuscript, it just had to be a fantasy adventure about an Iban headhunter.


I wrote...

Iban Journey

By Golda Mowe,

Book cover of Iban Journey

What is my book about?

Even though Nuing is the son of a renowned headhunter, he is marked as cursed from the day he was born. Out of options for living with dignity within his own community, he embarks on a journey to find a new place to call home. Along the way, he meets a group of similarly ostracized people who welcomes him into their fold. During their journey, Nuing kills a demon huntsman in self-defense and the monster’s brother swears revenge. The story, which is based on Iban myth, chronicles Nuing’s adventure, misadventure, and his struggle to protect his new home from demon huntsmen.

The books I picked & why

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Eaters of the Dead

By Michael Crichton,

Book cover of Eaters of the Dead

Why this book?

This book is a re-interpretation of the epic saga of Beowulf, re-imagining him as a real-life hero who fought in a historical human world. The magic of this story is that it is hard to tell where facts end and story begins. Ahmad, the narrator, is opinionated in a dry and pedagogic way. He complains about many things but, like a true traveler, refuses little. Even though he regales us with his sense of superiority, his outward manner is meek and passive which helps him get along with the Northmen. Please don’t read this book in a public library if you do not want to be shush-ed. Some of Ahmad’s commentaries on Viking life have sent me into loud, sudden guffaws. 

Eaters of the Dead

By Michael Crichton,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Eaters of the Dead as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Eaters of the Dead is a brilliant, stirring tale of historical adventure which deserves a place on readers bookshelves alongside Michael Crichton's bestselling techno-thrillers.

It is AD922 and Ibn Fadlan is sent north from Baghdad as a peaceful ambassador. But before he reaches his destination, he falls in with some Vikings and when they are attacked by mystical bloodthirsty creatures in the midst of a terrible fog, he reluctantly agrees to become the prophesied 13th warrior in order for them to survive.

Later turned into a major Hollywood film, Eaters of the Dead is an imaginative and breathlessly exciting…


The Last Wild Men of Borneo: A True Story of Death and Treasure

By Carl Hoffman,

Book cover of The Last Wild Men of Borneo: A True Story of Death and Treasure

Why this book?

What must we treasure? That is the question that came to mind when I was reading this book. Is a vanishing lifestyle or a piece of indigenous art worth risking your life and reputation for? Two men – Bruno Manser and Michael Palmieri – dodged the draft then went on to live dangerously. These real-life Robinson Crusoe and Indiana Jones eventually made their way into the jungle of Borneo, where they tried to save for posterity what they believed was important to the history of human culture. Hoffman presents their stories in a riveting style that is perfect for adventure lovers.

The Last Wild Men of Borneo: A True Story of Death and Treasure

By Carl Hoffman,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Last Wild Men of Borneo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A 2019 EDGAR AWARDS NOMINEE (BEST FACT CRIME) • A BANFF MOUNTAIN BOOK AWARDS FINALIST

Two modern adventurers sought a treasure possessed by the legendary “Wild Men of Borneo.” One found riches. The other vanished forever into an endless jungle. Had he shed civilization—or lost his mind? Global headlines suspected murder. Lured by these mysteries, New York Times bestselling author Carl Hoffman journeyed to find the truth, discovering that nothing is as it seems in the world’s last Eden, where the lines between sinner and saint blur into one.

In 1984, Swiss traveler Bruno Manser joined an expedition to the…


I Was a Potato Oligarch: Travels and Travails in the New Russia

By John Mole,

Book cover of I Was a Potato Oligarch: Travels and Travails in the New Russia

Why this book?

John Mole tells his stories the same way an Iban man would when he returns from a particularly harrowing work travel. I personally think that the memoir is a tragedy disguised as a comedy because some parts of his description of life in Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union made my stomach cramp with emotion. At the same time, they also made me laugh because his imageries are so comical. His first-world naiveté either gets him scammed or rescued, but his survival instincts always kick in when it matters. So, if you are interested in a modern Wild-Wild-West adventure, this is the book for you.

I Was a Potato Oligarch: Travels and Travails in the New Russia

By John Mole,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Was a Potato Oligarch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In a charming saga of sun, sea, sand - and cement - John Mole tells of the back-breaking but joyous labours of fixing up his own Arcadia and introduces a warm, generous and garrulous cast of characters who helped (and occasionally hindered) his progress.


Lord Jim

By Joseph Conrad,

Book cover of Lord Jim

Why this book?

This is one of those books that I had to put down a couple of times previously because the protagonist’s flaw hit too close to home. Jim is so ashamed of his past cowardice that each time his identity is found out, he will travel farther away from the spreading Western colonies. A Western marauder eventually invades the Malay and Bugis community where he lives, and Jim has to bear the consequence of speaking up for the man in good faith. After so many years, this book is still one of my top favorites because Jim finally stops running and faces his fear. He ultimately becomes the hero that he has always wanted to be.

Lord Jim

By Joseph Conrad,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Lord Jim as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'To the white men in the waterside business and to the captain of ships he was just Jim - nothing more. He had, of course, another name, but he was anxious that it should not be pronounced.'

Lord Jim tells the story of a young, idealistic Englishman - 'as unflinching as a hero in a book' - who is disgraced by a single act of cowardice while serving as an officer on the Patna, a merchant-ship sailing from an Eastern port. His life is blighted: an isolated scandal assumes horrifying proportions. An older man, Marlow, befriends Jim, and helps to…


Neverwhere

By Neil Gaiman,

Book cover of Neverwhere

Why this book?

Ever wonder what it would be like if you stumble through a magic portal and end up among the fairy folk? Well, this book recounts it for you, but make sure to hold a scented handkerchief over your nose while you read. You’ll be meeting a host of unwashed fae characters living in the sewers of London. They are eccentric and disgusting and annoying, but the good ones are thoroughly lovable despite all their shortcomings. This book must be read with an adventurer’s heart, else most of what you read will make little sense. Be forewarned: Gaiman has a knack for trapping you in his mythical world. Maybe I will find that portal in one of his books someday.

Neverwhere

By Neil Gaiman,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Neverwhere as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE EXTRAORDINARY FIRST NOVEL BY THE MASTER OF STORYTELLING

'Prose that dances and dazzles . . . Gaiman describes the indescribable' SUSANNA CLARKE

'It's virtually impossible to read more than ten words by Neil Gaiman and not wish he would tell you the rest of the story' OBSERVER

'Much too clever to be caught in the net of a single interpretation' PHILIP PULLMAN

ACCLAIMED BBC RADIO 4 DRAMATISATION WITH ALL-STAR CAST INCLUDING JAMES MCAVOY, NATALIE DORMER, DAVID HAREWOOD, SOPHIE OKONEDO AND BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH

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'I love doors. Anything that leads to possibilities' NEIL GAIMAN

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Under the streets of London…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in vikings, Russia, and Indonesia?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about vikings, Russia, and Indonesia.

Vikings Explore 78 books about vikings
Russia Explore 258 books about Russia
Indonesia Explore 23 books about Indonesia

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Land Below the Wind, Artemis Fowl, and Wool if you like this list.